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the worker to accept a “no-violence” contract so that any future concerns
will be dealt with in a violence-free atmosphere. It is wise, at this point,
to provide the worker with an advocate or an ombudsman to help in
future disputes. The advocate represents the interests of the worker and is
recognized as the worker's ally.
Level 2. Obsessive thoughts about a plan to pay others back for the
way the worker believes that he/she has been treated. The plan may be
diffuse and non-specific or it may be elaborate. The plan is sometimes
shared with others on the job who may think that the person is just vent-
ing anger. Usually, others do not take the plan seriously. This is a consid-
erable mistake since, at this point in time, the worker begins to obsess
about revenge, and the plan they've devised becomes more firmly fixed in
their minds. The reason for the progression to level two is that organiza-
tions often badly handle the worker at level one. The way the worker is
dealt with initially can have significant meaning for the progression or the
lack of progression of violent impulses. All threats, plans, indications of
payback, obsessive thoughts and preoccupations with unfairness should be
seen as problematic by the organization, and every attempt should be
made to deal with the problem through the use of an EAP, mediation, or
some conciliatory process to logically resolve the problem. If the worker
is being laid off, it should be done with notice, with respect, and with
some semblance of concern for the worker's long-term well-being.
Stories of the way organizations lay people off in cruel, insensitive, and
often rude and disrespectful ways suggest reasons for the development of
anger in workers and dramatically increase the risk of violence.
Level 3. The plan is now articulated to those in the workplace, who
need to respond. Generally, pre-violent workers will confide their plan or
make specific threats to supervisors they trust or find sympathetic. At this
stage, if threats are not taken seriously and if something isn't done to deal
with them, the anger grows and workers become unable to control feel-
ings and emotions that are now clearly out of control. Most perpetrators
of workplace violence have discussed their plan, to the extent that it is
now clear, with others in a position of authority. Some managers act on
this information, but all too many others ignore it, thinking it best not to
make problems for the worker, or they worry that any report of the plan
might end in a legal action by the worker. For whatever reason, most
workplace homicides have been articulated clearly by perpetrators, and it
often doesn't come as a surprise when perpetrators actually end up killing
someone. When one hears about a workplace killing, it is almost always
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