Threats in the workplace are becoming more and more common, and the lines of what is considered an actual threat have been blurred due to technology: Was that employee's angry Facebook post or an actual THREAT or was he or she just venting about a bad day on the job? Workplace bullies use various forms of threats, sometimes bosses use them, and while most are not carried out, they are very frightening and intimidating, even when initiated via technology.
It's important to know that there are different types of threats. Each should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. The three different types of threats are:
1. Direct Threat. This is a clear and specific threat such as “I’m going to kill you” or “I’ll get even with you.” This is the type of threat that law enforcement will investigate when there are witnesses or documented proof, and with more and more threats coming in via technology, there is now more concrete evidence other than one person's word against another.
2. Conditional Threat. This threat depends on your course of action, so it could be “Fire me and you'll pay” or “Go ahead and report me and see what happens.” Often the victim of this type of threat stays silent because they are afraid if they come forward, the threat will be carried out.
3. Veiled Threat. This threat is not as explicit and (in my opinion) is the creepiest of all threats. This is the type of threat that keeps the victim up at night wondering "What exactly did that mean? Am I in danger?" A Tweet that reads "Just got suspended from work. Cleaning my gun" could be considered a veiled threat.
These threats are often aimed at family members, such as “Your kids get home from school at 3 o'clock, don’t they? And they are there alone until you get home at 6 o'clock? I would hate to see something happen to them!” The veiled threat causes the most fear for the recipients, especially when aimed at family members.
Supervisors and managers must assess all threats, along with the risk, and if they don’t feel capable to handle the situation properly (maybe the person being accused of the threat is a friend of theirs), then they need to take the information to human resources, security, or an outside consultant. Regardless of the course of action, it is vital to carefully document all threats as any of these could be a warning sign of potential violence.
I heard this story on the evening news and it's so bizarreI had to share. A 23-year-old female was shopping at a Phoenix,AZ Target store and noticed that a man was following her. The next thing she knows he's dropped to the floor and biting her foot. He apparently bit through two layers of skin before she was able to kick him away.
News Report of the Attack:
The news reporter does a great job covering the story but when he gets to the very end he makes a comment suggesting that women may reconsider wearing open-toed shoes before they go out shopping. It seems this comment was said in jest but it got me thinking about how the media sometimes creates fear where it is not needed. This is indeed a strange and bizarre story, but it's certainly not necessary for women to wear closed-toed shoes while shopping.
For years in our personal safety seminars women would share a fear that a man would hide under their car and slash their ankles when they were entering. This rumored story has been going wild for years, and while we have investigated many reports, we've never found an incident that was substantiated.
There is an important lesson with stranger than fiction stories: Don't buy into fear based stories and rumors - they are probably false! So shop with or without your open-toed shoes just remember to be aware of your surroundings and be careful if you think someone is following you. And if you do notice someone following you, head immediately to the safety of other shoppers or employees.
To learn more about Violence Free's Personal Safety Programs call (623) 242-8797 or email email@example.com.
We all have intuition – we were born with it. As children we use it because we don’t know anything different. As we grow older and our rational and reasonable mind develops we lose touch with it. We also lose touch with it because society teaches us to focus on reasoning and intellect for our decision making. We begin to ignore our intuition as we get older and many people forget about it altogether.
It is critical for you to talk to your child about their “belly siren.” Tell them when they get that uncomfortable or mysterious feeling in their belly that they should listen to it. This could save your child’s life!
When a child tells you that they are uncomfortable with someone or with a situation, it is important that you listen. For instance, a young child refuses to kiss their Uncle Bill goodbye after a visit and the parent insists that they give Uncle Bill a hug and a kiss. The child may instinctively be uncomfortable with this uncle but by insisting that they have physical contact we teach them to question their instincts.
Suspicion, hesitation, apprehension and fear are natural signals that your child may be in danger. Children are most likely to be sexually abused by someone they know so it is important to teach children to connect and listen to their ‘belly siren’ as this may prevent abduction or a sexual assault.
Here are important intuition tips to teach your children:
Treat all intuitive experiences as real and natural.
Provide a vocabulary for your child to express their intuitive experience. You can even brainstorm with your kids on a code word. We call it the “belly siren” or “gut feeling” but you and your child can get creative. I have even heard of a child who called intuition “the creepies” or “the woolies.” This is a way of calling attention to what your child is feeling without having to explain intuition.
Encourage your child to look within for guidance. Ask your child questions regarding his or her safety and really listen to their answers. Make sure you ask about their feelings and how those feelings led them to their decision regarding their own safety.
Give your child permission to say ‘NO.” In many cases children don’t follow their intuition because they are afraid of their parent’s response. My father taught me early on that if someone wanted to hug me or touch me and I didn’t want them to then I had his permission to say “NO!”
Teach your child that intuition helps alert us to dangers and that everyone has it.
Intuition is empowering to a child. I encourage you to help your child to recognize it and nurture it because intuition is a real gift that will keep them safe and serve them well.
New Technologies Indicate Dangerous Crimes are Moving to Middle-Class Neighborhoods
Law enforcement agencies are using geographical information systems to predict crime hotspots. They have discovered some startling facts using these new systems, including the stark reality that meth labs are slowly making their way into more and more middle-class neighborhoods.
One of my mantras throughout my 18-year career as a violence prevention expert is, "A crime can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere."
We all need the skills necessary to instinctively act safe, powerful and in control whether it's leaving work late in an urban area, or coming home to a gated community.
Contact me today to talk about my Savvy Street Smarts Program which can be customized for women, business travelers, front desk personnel, college students, healthcare professionals or HR/Risk Control Professionals. (623) 242-8797 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By now most of you have seen the picture of President Obama and Governor Jan Brewer taken in Arizona last week. Following this encounter, the Arizona Governor said on TV “I was trying to be gracious!” The picture sure tells a different story, doesn’t it?
I think most of us would agree that it doesn’t appear that Governor Brewer was being gracious. Take politics out of it and judge the picture just on what you see. Most of us do not like having a finger pointed at us, much less have one pointed in our face. I certainly am not privy to the conversation that the President and the Governor were having, but I am very clear that the Governor was not being gracious.
Non-verbal communication conveys very strong messages and can get us into real trouble, especially when we are attempting to de-escalate an angry person. Most times we focus on verbal communication and reason to calm the other person down. If you find yourself in that position and discover that nothing that you say is working, consider what your body language is telling the other person.
We all interpret non-verbal communication a little differently. Our life experience, our belief system and our judgments collectively help us interpret both words and body language. So, we never know what is going to trigger the other person’s hostility. Our best bet is to be flexible both verbally and non-verbally.
If you are uncomfortable with conflict the chances are high that you will show this non-verbally. Here are a few non-verbal communication tips to help you when faced with an angry person:
1. Develop a neutral stance so your weight is evenly distributed over your feet at hip distance. Stand at least two feet away from the person that you are attempting to de-escalate. This neutral stance will give you a stronger presence.
2. If you are nervous or uncomfortable, push down on the balls of your feet. It is almost like you are pushing the adrenaline out of your body. This will help you to stop shaking.
3. Attempt to look the person in the eye even if you are uncomfortable with this. Most people who are nervous or afraid of conflict look down or away.
If you are comfortable with conflict and have a knack for de-escalation you may be seen as the aggressor. If you are aggressive in the way you de-escalate conflict, here are a few tips to follow:
1. Avoid pointing your finger and ensure that your hands are empty.
2. Avoid smiling as it may be seen as mockery or condescending behavior.
3. Be at the same eye level. If you are taller, avoid towering over someone, instead invite them to sit.
4. Ensure that your posture is upright and relaxed. Uptight or overly erect posture can be seen as extreme or commanding.
5. Relax your facial muscles as much as possible and look into the other person's eyes no more than 85% of the time. Constant, continual eye contact can escalate the situation.
The person who is angry wants to be heard. They will not begin to de-escalate until they feel that they are being heard. So make sure that what you say both verbally and non-verbally demonstrates that you are listening and engaged. We don’t know exactly what will tick them off and escalate the situation, so be flexible and if one thing doesn’t work then shift your body language which will change the result.
Domestic Violence DOES NOT stop at the door when employees go to work!
A national telephone survey by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) found that 21 percent of full-time employed adults were victims of domestic violence and 64 percent of them indicated their work performance was significantly impacted.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), intimate partner violence victims loose a total of nearly 8 million days of paid work a year - the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs, and the cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is more than $8.3 billion.
Many workplace violence policies in companies across the U.S. fail to address domestic violence and many small to medium size companies never provide any training to their employees on how to recognize or respond to it.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What steps are you and your company taking to avoid an incident such as the one in this article?
Many violent and even deadly terminations could have been avoided if managers had said and done the right things – and brought in the right authorities at the appropriate times.
Now more than ever, as economic news worsens and unemployment keeps climbing, the pressure, fear, and anxiety facing newly terminated workers could turn your next termination into something far, far worse.
Here are 11 steps to reduce the risk of violence and increase safety for you and your employees during a termination.
1. Pause before rushing into a termination.
2. Address the immediate safety concerns by evaluating and eliminating the risks as much as possible. In high-risk terminations we recommend taking the time to stabilize the situation by fulfilling due diligence and effectively using threat assessment procedures. If you are in doubt about the risk, hire an experienced outside consultant.
3. Planning occurs at every step of the process. The more dangerous the termination the more fluid the situation.
4. Choose a neutral environment for the termination such as a conference room. The room should have lots of windows, be closest to the entrance, and have minimal furniture.
5. Create a safe environment. Clear the table or desks of any objects that can be used as weapons (pens and pencils are also on this list of objects that could be used as weapons).
6. Have a male and a female in the room to handle the termination. Only one person actively communicates the termination, the second person does not participate but is there as a witness and to provide assistance if necessary.
7. De-personalize the situation. When/if possible, emphasize that the termination is about the position, not the person.
8. Control your emotions. Remain as neutral as possible and focus on the situation, not the person.
9. Ensure that all company property has been retrieved and that the employee’s property is being packed and inventoried. The employee should sign for their property and be given their personal belongings at the completion of the termination. Employees should not be allowed to return to their offices or work stations after termination.
10. Separate completely. Any termination process with a high risk individual should strive for a complete separation in which there is no opportunity to reestablish a relationship with the company.
11. Avoid the walk of shame! Respect the person’s dignity.
Terminations are never fun or comfortable. Follow these 11 steps to reduce the risks associated with terminations and move forward in a productive, safe manner.