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Course 720 - Preventing Workplace Violence

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5 Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior

Warning Signs

Possible Responses


Behavior characterized by bewilderment or distraction. Unsure or uncertain of the next course of action.
  • Listen to their concerns.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Give them factual information.


Behavior characterized by reaction or resistance to information. Impatience. Feeling a sense of defeat in the attempt of accomplishment. May try to bait you.
  • See steps above.
  • Relocate to quiet location or setting.
  • Reassure them.
  • Make a sincere attempt to clarify concerns.


Placing responsibility for problems on everyone else. Accusing or holding you responsible. Finding fault or error with the action of others. They may place blame directly on you. Crossing over to potentially hazardous behavior.
  • See steps above.
  • Disengage and bring second party into the discussion.
  • Use teamwork approach.
  • Draw client back to facts.
  • Use probing questions.
  • Create "Yes" momentum.

Anger - Judgment call required

Characterized by a visible change in body posture and disposition. Actions include pounding fists, pointing fingers, shouting or screaming. This signals very risky behavior.
  • Utilize venting techniques.
  • Don't offer solutions.
  • Don't argue with comments made.
  • Prepare to evacuate or isolate.
  • Contact supervisor and/or security office.

Hostility - Judgment call required

Physical actions or threats which appear imminent. Acts of physical harm or property damage. Out-of-control behavior signals they have crossed over the line.
  • Disengage and evacuate.
  • Attempt to isolate person if it can be done safely.
  • Alert supervisor and contact security office immediately.