Workplace Violence Continuum


What does workplace violence mean to you and your organization? How is it defined in your policy and procedures? So often, guns, knives, and bombs immediately come to our minds when we think about workplace crises, and many times an organization's policies and procedures focus on these types of threats. Obviously, this is for good reason, especially considering the high-profile events we often see unfolding in the media.


However, CPI views workplace violence as a continuum of behaviors:



The behaviors along the continuum can be observed, understood, and influenced. Looking from left to right, you can see that the behaviors progress from discourtesy to retaliation to physical aggression. The key to prevention is not only to observe the behaviors, but also to respond to them as early as possible. The earlier we intervene, the safer we will be.


Although there are many ways an individual can express hostility, one logical way of categorizing such behavior is to distinguish hostility which is expressed verbally from hostility which is expressed through physical aggression. Each of these behavior categories requires a different response. Verbal hostility requires a verbal intervention. Physical aggression may require a physical intervention and often involves activating your organization's emergency response procedures. 


Additionally, the behaviors can be exhibited not only by your customers, patrons, and visitors, but also by your employees to one another. Unfortunately, workplace bullying and lateral violence are commonplace, and the associated behaviors can be placed within the Workplace Violence Continuum.


All of these behaviors have an impact on the culture within your organization.


With a core philosophy of Respect, Service, and Safety at Work®, the Prepare Training® program's goals include the prevention and de-escalation of negative, challenging, hostile, and potentially violent behaviors. We encourage employee awareness of escalating situations, which includes attention to nonverbal cues, the manner in which we use the words we choose, management of power struggles, and appropriate limit setting.


Program goals set the tone in the Prepare Training® program to help staff maintain professionalism at all times. CPI's after-incident documentation and follow-up strategies form key components of the program. These strategies are taught to help staff learn and improve their intervention skills. The training enables the personalization of intervention strategies based on the distinct behaviors exhibited and where they fall on the continuum.


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