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"Yesterday, Dennis A. Davis, Ph.D., talked about dealing with workplace conflict. Today, we'll get his take on reacting to anger and violence, and we'll get a look at a unique program for the small (even one-person) HR department.
Sometimes people think anger leads to violence, so they won't let an angry person talk. But it's not anger that leads to violence - it's frustration, says Davis.
Davis is the director of client training for the national law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC. His remarks came during a recent audio conference sponsored by our parent company, BLR.
Anger, Davis says, is the emotion that results when we feel bad, hurt, or taken advantage of. Frustration is the emotion when we feel powerless. People who feel powerless make threats. Here are his tips for helping your supervisors and managers to deal with violence and anger:
If the Employee Says Something Violent
What should you do if you hear a statement such as, "If things don't get right around here, someone's going to blow this place up"? You have to respond to that right away, says Davis.
"Frank, I'm willing to hear what you have to say, and I want to deal with your issues and concerns. But I'm very concerned about what you just said because to me it sounds like a threat. Are you threatening violence, Frank?"
Managing an HR Department of One was recently recognized as one of SHRM's "Great 8" best-selling products.
"You have to ask that question," says Davis, and pay careful attention to the response. People who are on the verge of violence will stand behind such a statement: "Well, you know, I understand how it could happen. I'm not saying any more."
What about a person who recognizes that he or she just let go for a moment and knows that the remark was inappropriate? They will back away from the statement, saying something like: "No, no, no. I'm not saying I would do anything like that."
You definitely can't show empathy toward an inappropriate statement, says Davis.
What About Angry People?
An angry person typically doesn't make threats. The voice increases in volume, but it often has a pleading quality — "I can't believe you're doing this; I don't get the respect of a dog." Allow the person to express that.
Often an employee just wants to be heard. You can respond, "I'm hearing you say that you don't feel appreciated." You're not agreeing with the employee's sentiments; you're simply acknowledging that you understand what he or she is saying, Davis says.
If you are part of what employees are complaining about, it's easy to want to lash back at them. Resist that temptation, says Davis. The more they express themselves, the faster anger goes away. "Anger is self-extinguishing," Davis says.
Anger management and conflict resolution are two of maybe a dozen or more challenges hitting your desk every day. And how about those intermittent leave headaches, accommodation requests, or attendance problems?
Let's face it, in HR, if it's not one thing, it's another. And in a small department, it's just that much tougher.
Feel as if you're all alone in HR? Not anymore. Take on a partner — Managing an HR Department of One. Examine it at no cost or risk for 30 days.
BLR's Managing an HR Department of One is unique in addressing the special pressures small HR departments face. Here are some of the features included:
If you'd like a more complete look at what Managing an HR Department of One covers, click the table of contents link below. Or, better yet, take a look at the entire program. We'll send it to you for 30 days' evaluation in your own office with no obligation to buy. Click here, and we'll be happy to make the arrangements.
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Many employers take a head-in-the-sand approach to blustery employees, thinking, "Oh, I'm sure he's just blowing off steam." In situations like this, you simply can't afford to take that chance--being proactive and assertive, even if it seems like you might be overreacting a bit, is always the best plan in situations like this.