COPE CopeLine Supervisor

June 2016

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

Violence: What Do To If....

Our society has become increasingly technological and mobile. With social media, text messaging, computers, and email, face-to-face communication is on the decline. Some individuals may begin to feel isolated and their proximity to those who know them best---and by extension, those you might detect a sudden worrisome change in behavior---is decreased.

This newsletter is devoted to addressing basic steps that each of us can take to be as prepared as possible for an act of violence. We'll review the warning signs of a potentially violent person, ways to assist a troubled person before they turn violent and share steps for responding to someone who is threatening violence.

Recognizing potential violence requires observation, information, and judgment. The behaviors listed below may help you determine the potential for violence in someone else or help you assess your own feelings of aggression before you act.

Threatening Language: The person repeatedly makes direct, veiled or conditional threats to harm someone;
Unreasonable Behavior: The person regularly makes slighting references to others, is seldom happy with the status quo, consistently over-reacts to feedback or criticism and tends to take comments personally;
Control Oriented: The person has a compulsive need to force their opinions on others. He or she uses intimidation to get their way, e.g., fear tactics, threats, harassing behavior, including unwelcome phone calls, email and stalking;
Low Impulse Control: The person is unable to resist a temptation, urge or impulse that may harm himself or others. Examples include substance-related disorders, careless sexual behavior and gambling;
Paranoid: A paranoid person thinks other employees are out to get them, feels persecuted, or believes they or a group that they self-identify with are victims of an injustice;
Irresponsible: The person doesn't take responsibility for their behaviors, faults or mistakes, but instead pushes the blame on others;
Desperation: The person expresses extreme anxiety over family, financial or marital issues;
Angry, Argumentative & Confrontational: The person has many anger issues on and off the job--with co-workers, family, friends, or the government--and frequently argues with supervisors, neighbors, etc.
Sleep Deprived and/or Absence from Work: The person is sleep deprived and is chronically absent from work.

These behaviors in isolation or in combination, can be early warning signs of a person who is in need of emotional support. If recognized early, the underlying distress can be mitigated with counseling, sleep, healthier life-style choices and medication. If you have any further questions on the subject, contact your Human Resources Department or your EAP professional.

I. C. U. OR "I See You"

You do not need to be a nurse, doctor or counselor to reach out to someone who appears mentally distressed. To help employers assist mentally distressed employees, DuPont's Employee Assistance Program developed the I.C.U. or "I See You" program, which is available at no cost to employers across all sectors, industries, and sizes. It consists of the following quidelines;

Identify. First, notice if there are any signs that point to a change in the person's mental health. Do they seem tired, irritable, withdrawn?

Connect. Next, connect with the person. Find a quiet place to talk and in a non-intrusive way ask, "I've noticed you are not your usual self. Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help?"

Understand. Finally, understand the way forward together. Listening in itself can be very helpful, but some people need extra help. Encourage them to reach out for assistance.

When Confronted by a Violent Person

If you are confronted by someone who you fear is violent and you are unable to remove yourself from the situation, Kristal Wortham, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), offers several tips to avoid escalating the situation. "Above all, remain calm," she says. "Keep your voice low and level. Move cautiously to avoid startling the person. If you get emotional or panic, you will unintentionally heighten the emotional charge of the other person."

Identify, Connect and Understand. Wortham recommends you say, "I am ready to listen" and "Let me be sure I understand you."Be respectful, even if the person is being unreasonable. Don't contradict the person, discount their grievances or minimize the person's experiences. There will be time to sort out the issues when things calm down. Don't promise anything you cannot deliver. The goal now is to de-escalate the situation.

Protect Yourself. Pay attention to the situation around you, Wortham advises. Where are you? Where is the nearest exit? You don't want to block the aggressive person's escape, but consider your own escape options. Is there a colleague nearby and a way for you to signal for assistance? For example, at COPE the staff has learned that certain key words are a signal to call 911 immediately.

Cope Incorporated