Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

It's not easy to step up and report on troubling behaviors or a gut feeling that something's not right.

The more informed you are about the warning signs of potential threats of violence, the more confident you will be in reporting your concerns.

Scroll through the pages below to gain an understanding of the range of warning behaviors. Bookmark this page so you can return when you need to validate observations that indicate a potential cause for reporting a concern.


Inappropriate behaviors

Inappropriate behavior disrupts or disturbs the workplace in a non-threatening way.

Frequent displays of unacceptable behavior may signal a lack of control or willingness to ignore the limits of acceptability – a potential precursor to warning or high-risk behaviors.

  • Failing to treat others with courtesy and respect
  • Spreading negative gossip targeting a coworker(s)
  • Acting in a manner that is unprofessional and out of line with corporate ethical standards
  • Making rude, loud and off-colored remarks
  • Sharing inappropriate, degrading or discriminating jokes in public
  • Disregarding authority – believing rules don’t apply to actions and behaviors


Detrimental behaviors

Detrimental behaviors are more hostile in nature and typically directed at a specific target(s).

Repeated conduct of this type interferes with or prevents productive work relationships and environments. It is capable of rising to the level of workplace bullying – a destructive form of interpersonal abuse. Without proper intervention, it could move either party toward high-risk behaviors.

  • Degrading an employee or coworker in front of other people
  • Speaking in a condescending or belittling way
  • Displaying insensitive, curt and disrespectful treatment as a form of intimidation
  • Making disparaging, demeaning or humiliating comments
  • Disregarding or exploiting others in a callous way
  • Isolating an employee or coworker and/or giving them the silent treatment
  • Taking vindictive actions such as sabotaging other's work
  • Falsely accusing others of errors
  • Abusing authority or imposing impossible deadlines
  • Creating toxic interactions that jeopardize relationships and disrupt performance
  • Lacking awareness of or denying anger issues and their impact on self and others
  • Engaging in romantic triangles with coworkers
  • Showing extreme envy of others – prone to holding grudges


Intimidating behaviors

Intimidating behaviors create a level of unease brought on by direct or indirect expressions of anger and verbal hostility.

These warning behaviors leave employees feeling vulnerable or unsafe. Increases in the frequency or intensity of anger and hostility may be a sign that the individual is moving along the spectrum toward high-risk or violent behaviors.

  • Shouting, throwing things or slamming doors
  • Expressing anger or rage through explosive outbursts that are not directed at anyone
  • Acting out in increasingly disruptive or unusual ways
  • Displaying frequent mood swings
  • Attacking immediately if criticized or questioned
  • Threatening litigation when displeased or challenged
  • Vocalizing aggressive complaints about management to coworkers
  • Expressing chronic, unsubstantiated complaints about persecution or injustice – a victim mindset
  • Brushing or touching someone in inappropriate ways
  • Making sexually suggestive comments or displaying inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Reporting to work or performing work while under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance
  • Showing signs of substance misuse and abuse


Threatening behaviors

Threatening behaviors include aggressive verbal or physical actions that create duress or alarm but fall short of actual physical violence.

Sexual harassment, stalking and slander are overt examples of threatening behaviors. Equally concerning are the more subtle troubling signs. Sudden behavioral shifts that may point to domestic violence or psychological issues. Immediate, formal intervention is necessary to address all threatening behaviors since they signal a potential attack.

  • Making direct or indirect threats to harm someone
  • Ranting about an individual or company in person or on social media
  • Acting out with alarming explosive and manic outbursts
  • Displaying erratic, impulsive or bizarre behavior that generates fear
  • Sending unwanted, intrusive and frightening communication by phone, email, text or social media
  • Retaliating for perceived wrongs
  • Making explicit sexual propositions
  • Intruding upon others in an obsessive way, such as a persistent unwanted romantic pursuit
  • Executing acts of sabotage
  • Expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts or ideas, including comments about "putting things in order"
  • Showing signs of domestic violence, stalking or abuse
  • Demonstrating a preoccupation with violent themes, fantasies, weapons or violent groups
  • Increasing psychological fixation on a target or potential target
  • Admitting to being “unstable,” diagnosed with depression and having homicidal thoughts
  • Confessing to having violent thoughts in the workplace
  • Expressing anger and/or violence associated with alcohol or drug use
  • Possessing a weapon while on company property or while on company business


Violent Behaviors

Violent behaviors are physical assaults directed at people or property with the intention of inflicting fear, harm or damage.

Every act of violence must be immediately addressed through rapid intervention and execution of risk assessment protocols to prevent further acts or escalation to lethal levels.

  • Physically assaulting an employee or other individual (e.g., pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking or biting) in the workplace
  • Damaging employer property or the property of another employee in retribution or to create fear
  • Using physical force that causes injury to others
  • Acting out in any way that results in unintentional personal harm, injury or destruction of property


Lethal Behaviors

Lethal behaviors in the workplace are rare, but no place of work is immune from fatal acts of violence and their catastrophic consequences.

Recognizing and reporting behaviors that might indicate someone intends to inflict fatal harm on others and/or themselves is the best way to prevent these acts of violence.

  • Targeted attacks
  • Mass shootings
  • Stabbings
  • Bombings
  • Suicides
  • Law-enforcement-assisted suicides

You can prevent an act of workplace violence

The more informed you are about the warning signs of potential threats of violence, the more confident you will be in reporting your concerns.

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