Conflict Resolution – Preventing Tragedy In The Workplace

Understanding patterns of escalation and utilizing preventative measures to resolve conflict in the workplace should be an ongoing component of any workplace violence prevention training curriculum. Much has been said in recent times regarding what we as a society should be doing to try and prevent, deter, or otherwise stop Active Shooter (AS) and similar workplace violence incidents. One key component to this effort should be that we spend considerable time and energy learning how to recognizing crisis behavior and conflict long before an individual decides to act out. This can be achieved through effective conflict resolution training.

In the early part of 2013, I was asked to be a guest presenter for a few of the US Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Workshops in the mid-west USA. I was asked to present AS information to groups of 150+ to 200 people in security, law enforcement, corporations, risk management, etc. specifically regarding the “profile” or lack thereof, of an Active Shooter. I covered the concept of applying what is known as Systems Theory to the personality/mindset of an active shooter. A common theme that is prevalent with past Active Shooters is that they have often experienced a series of events (either real or imagined) which have impacted them in a number of areas of their life such as: home and family issues, workplace issues, community issues, financial issues, social network issues, and health/wellness issues. It has been found that not only one area of the AS life is affected, but a combination of issues, leading the individual to believe that committing acts of violence is the only way to resolve, express, or handle the issues going on within and around them.

Although no single profile is known to exist that is able to predict violent behavior, there are common traits and behaviors that have been observed in the past which can help identify potentially violent individuals earlier in the process, prior to an incident. Activities that may be observed in the workplace or by those involved personally with the potential AS fall into 3 areas: thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

Thoughts: An individual that has been overheard talking about previous violence, experiences paranoid thinking, shows an overwhelming focus or concentration on weapons, and prior overreactions to workplace changes or circumstances.

Feelings: An individual that shows signs of depression or withdraws from others and isolates when given the opportunity to interact, has unstable emotional responses, or experiences intense anger and hostility.

Behaviors: An individual who is violating company policy on small/large scale, increased absences, blaming or exploiting others, increased use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Considering the above, it would then make sense that if we are to stay more focused, more aware, and more observant of the potential issues and/or events happening in each others lives, we may be able to assist or otherwise prevent someone from continuing down the path of taking harmful action. Intervening in this process will require effective conflict resolution skills and techniques regularly utilized in the workplace.

Conflict Resolution – Effective Training

An effective strategy to raise focus, awareness, and observation skills would be to train employees in an effective conflict resolution training program that addresses ongoing open communication, building connections, increasing awareness, improving and guiding access to employee assistance programs, and teaching additional conflict resolution tools. Additionally, the training program should provide attendees with a wide array of skills and techniques to utilize during low-to-mid level conflicts to avoid further escalation. A curriculum should emphasize leaving a positive and lasting impression of compassion, openness, and willingness to try and help someone who may be struggling with any of the issues mentioned earlier. As a final component in the conflict resolution training, there should be a series of actual nonviolent physical crisis intervention skills which would allow for persons to safely intervene (if necessary) during most mid-to-high level conflicts (non-active shooter scenarios) should an individual become aggressive or threatening in the workplace, and there is no other option but to use those methods to prevent harm.

For highly effective training options proven to increase safety in the workplace, please review course information at Crisis Consultant Group, LLC and contact CCG today. Find out how our training will help your employees and your organization better prepare for these types of situations.