I was once witness to one of the strangest sights ever – workplace violence!
Being an “away” university student, I didn’t get to see my friends much. So whenever I was in town, no matter how short a visit it was, I made it a point to seek them out. During one of such trips, I heard a friend had started work somewhere so I went looking for him. He was interning at an insurance firm and had a couple of colleagues and two superiors. Two guys.
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When I got there that afternoon, those guys were just talking, laughing, and generally having a good afternoon. Within minutes of my being there, however, something happened. I cannot remember exactly what caused the fight or how it started, but the next thing I knew, these two grown men were slugging it out. And I mean throwing punches and grappling with each other. My hapless friend was trying to separate them but he got a punch in the face for his troubles. He sat down and watched.
The one female in the office just kept screaming – and then suddenly there was blood all over the office. Her screams got louder and more intense, just as it seemed as though the sight of blood sobered the grownups. One of them had broken the nose of the other and they were both showering in his blood.
I bet the above scenario is not completely strange.
You probably would have worked with someone, at some point or the other, who thinks every problem is a nail and so just hammers away at it. This is especially if said problem is another human being. This person does not understand dialogue and has no concept of peaceful resolution. If he has a problem with you, he’s fighting it out with you.
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Workplace violence is completely unacceptable and should be strongly frowned upon for obvious reasons. It is not a boxing arena, it is an office. The office space could be wrecked, someone could be injured and worst, you can mare the reputation of your organization if clients come calling at that moment.
Why would violence be a solution?
Some people do not understand the power of conversation, simply sitting down to have a chat and therefore hashing out whatever is an issue politely. I once stated an example of a colleague who completely lost his cool because the boss was hounding him. Now that I think about it, I realise that situation could easily have become violent. Somebody could have hit somebody else – and that would have been it.
Sometimes, “violence” involves but is not limited to the use of physical assault against a colleague and so on. Workplace violence also involves threatening behaviour (shaking of fists and verbal or written expressions intended to inflict harm), swearing, sabotage and harmful pranks.
Why do people get violent?
A lot of factors could be responsible for violent behaviour in a colleague/employee. He/she could be going through some personal issues where he or she feels the best way to express their pain is through physical releases. It may be due to frustration, like in the case of my colleague referred to above. The person – the perpetrator of the violent act – may also be unstable.
A workplace environment in which someone does not feel safe and secure is a dangerous place and, therefore, employers should take note and serious action when such is reported. The human resources person should be involved and discreet investigations should be carried out. Also, the identity of the accuser should be protected because of witch-hunting and what not.
More attempts should also be made by employers to evaluate the mental state of the people they employ. There should be psychological tests regularly carried out by the company to evaluate their staff. Art often imitates life, and according to the movies, the most balanced-appearing of us all are the worst.
The story I was telling at the beginning? My friend and I had to go buy a shirt for the nose broken person to replace his with, and then he went home. And showed up the following day as though nothing happened. I was mortified. What if that had been junior staff?
Workplace violence is real. Pay attention.
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