Workplace Violence

Why (it) makes sense

(it) as a solution is incomprehensible to most people. We stand on the sidelines, shake our heads and wonder how any situation can get that bad’ that (it) seems reasonable.

Thankfully, it’s because most people are not ever in a situation where (it) is the only remaining option to correct the major issue.

At the beginning of any situation, there’s a lot of conditions, information to take into consideration and the solution is similarly unlimited.

The longer that the situation continues, the higher the stakes become. Higher stakes narrow the issues to the critical ones, which means events and information become not relevant.

As the stakes escalate, and more people are involved, the situation also escalates; moving from being between two people as an incident issue to two people in a relationship conflict.

If the matter isn’t resolved at the relationship level, then the stakes and situation escalate and become a systemic matter.

The higher the process is escalated, the narrower the issue to be resolved becomes.

For example, an employee who is frequently late changed from “you were late today” to a pattern problem of “you are regularly late”; which then escalates into a relationship problem where the manager feels that it is intentional and disrespectful.

While to the employee, it’s a time management or life/work balance issue and they can’t understand why the manager isn’t cutting them slack.

The employee may see the lateness as unconnected to anything, but the manager may see the late pattern as part of a larger problem, perhaps assignments are also late or there are other events or behaviours there’s low level grumbling – not enough to talk about any one, but looking at the incidents together, form a particular and negative image in the manager’s mind of the employee.

Meanwhile, the employee focuses on the effort they are making, not the outcome – so becomes focused on doing their best, but now unsupported and even undermined by management.

Management can soon see only the bad in the employee and the employee sees only the bad in management.

Not communicating, not developing a common frame of reference and not resolving (it) as early as possible just means that the situation escalates out of the control of the employee and management. More people become involved, the stakes increase, the issues narrow but are focused on the actions of each party in the situation – not the fundamental issue that the situation was about.

Management, having the deepest pockets, being in charge of the rules creates rules that favour themselves, not unlike why casinos rake in far more cash than they will ever payout in prizes, has the most options.

Employees have fewer resources; both in terms of money, policy/legal expertise, and allies. Employees have fewer options as a result.

For the employee, the higher the stakes also narrows the issues. Given enough time, it’s no longer about the work relationships or about keeping your job or career – it becomes only about getting out of the situation for self protection.

Any person in a situation of never ending conflict and who is locked in an either/or – eventually become physically and mentally impacted by the never ending ever escalating conflict.

The particularly worrisome impacts include obsessive thoughts, reading more into the situation (ie they are out to get me) than is supported by facts, and escalating conflict that there appears to be no resolution that both sides can accept.

The best resolution is each side to identify what their bottom line is and why.

For example – does the manager want the employee to perform better or do they want to discipline the employee?

Supporting the employee with flexible work hours, teleworking could be the easy solution to the issue of lateness. Which, if offered at the initial stages, would have avoided the damage to the employee, the manager, the work and workplace.

Taking the positive steps to achieve the objective solves the problem (aka carrot) – but employing negative steps such as discipline (aka stick) does not result in performance improvements.

This only entrenches both sides and further escalates and inflames.

The employee, instead of frequently being late, could have acknowledged their life and work commitments and taken steps to advise the manager why they were late in a factual and not “poor me” manner and re-arrange their schedule, including shifting their hours of work.

But, when both sides are entrenched in their interpretation of you’re the bad one, no you’re the bad one – then the actions taken are about punishment and retaliation on both sides.

Since management, again, has deeper pockets, more resources and getting to make the rules that often they do not consider themselves subjected to as well as employees – is better able to bide their time until the employee either breaks and caves into management or leaves on their own, either by quitting or disability leave.

The employee – or frequently the student – focuses on what’s been done to them by management, coupled with a sense of lack of options, heighten sense of unfairness, and an increasing sense of self worth and even deserving the treatment; over time, will only see (it) as the best means to end the situation.

This is why Ghaddify’s refusal to step down and determination to take as many people with him as possible made sense.

When the employee or student reaches that desperation point – the collapse of options, they lash out at those who drove them to that action.

Unresolved and festering conflict does become a narrowed battleground with fewer and fewer options and resolutions possible the more than both sides cling to their version of events, rather than deal with the facts on the ground or the actual reality of the situation – which is always somewhere between or totally beside the two points of view that are focused in hyper-vigilant self protection and undermining the other side in a zero sum game.

And Management or dictators like Ghaddify when they see that they have lost all control of creating and enforcing the rules, a personal sense of being rejected by the masses, respond in a similar extreme manner from firing the employee, to actively obstructing their career to at the dictator end, taking out as many of the masses that are trying to end that dictator’s world.

Ghaddify was unwilling to live in a world where he is not king – living deposed is not an option for him.

The Norway shooter was unwilling to live in a world where a diversity of humans could live in a secular harmony of balanced interests.

These people were so invested in what kind of world they wanted to live in, that they were prepared to kill and sacrifice other people to be able to live in a private fantasy world as if it was the real world.

Other people, like Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Orson Wells, Leonardo da Vinci,  and other artists who exist in their own reality-verses; who move us emotionally and physically, who are sensitive sensualists who can make us feel the heights of human emotion and possibility, make us think and feel in new ways – end up, if pulled out of their verses and crushed by reality – dying young, potential unfullfilled – because the world wasn’t ready for them yet.

But each of them, push us a little further, until we can be ready to bring their verse into the reality that we all share. a little farther, a little bigger, with each new verse, like waves upon the shore.