Ignorance of Warning Signs can be Rationalized. NOT!
Written by Robert D. Sollars
Just like a politician after they’ve won the campaign, forgetting about their major promises, we just ignore the warning signs of violence. This in turn leads directly to being responsible, all of us…yes, even you, for trauma, life-long disabilities, carnage, and destruction within our organizations, and we have no excuse for not reporting them as potential problems.
Countless rationalizations are used by LITERALLY EVERYONE concerned, students, colleagues, managers, administrators, & everyone alike that prevent the reporting of co-workers, friends, loved ones, & others who may be on the edge of committing violence…either in the organization or away from it somewhere else just as deadly, think other organizations, of any type…even at home, can we say domestic violence & child abuse?
The organization needs to know if an individual they’re responsible for begins acting differently, strangely or out of character, for any reason. Whether it is after a serious incident in their personal life or where they attend school or work doesn’t matter…both can impact your organization, adversely.
The employer rarely realizes this, unless a co-worker trusts management enough to report it (which is another issue altogether). In most circumstances, just because someone is beginning to loosen up after a harsh stretch for themselves or their family could be a reason to worry.
There are always warning signs before someone perpetrates an incident, as I have nagged about for decades, and you’ve recently read. Whether they are subtle, which sometimes are nearly invisible, except to friends & colleagues, or not they are there. Unfortunately, there is always an excuse for why the person and the signs weren’t reported.
The incidents that I record over the course of a year usually give me as much information as I need for reference points to deliver a presentation. The news reports will give me several warning signs to the perpetrator even if they don’t realize them as such. If I can gather that information from media reports how can anyone around a troubled person miss those signs or more of them? Because they have decided to ignore them.
Recognizing those signs aren’t convoluted or complicated…they are relatively simple if you look at it as a simple issue not convoluted or complicated. Detailed-oriented and maybe time-consuming, yes, but… It’s probably too simple to be accepted…by nearly everyone who wants to make it complicated & convoluted, including law enforcement & consultants…for their own purposes.
“It is our choice to either act upon or ignore the Warning signs”
Listed here are some of those rationalizations that you may see or tell yourself about someone you or a loved one may know or a co-worker. And unfortunately, ignoring them could lead to psychological trauma, injury – permanent or temporary, or even worse…death. The pronoun he is written although it can just as easily be attributed to women;
- He was just going through a tough time.
- He’ll come out of it.
- He’s not that kind.
- He would never do something like that.
- He’s not capable of doing that.
- He’s such a lovable sweet guy!
- He’s got problems, who doesn’t??
- I don’t want to get him in trouble.
- I don’t want to get involved.
- It’s not my problem.
- Why should I care what happens to him? I don’t like him.
- I hate this place, why should I warn them?
- This company needs a wake-up call anyway.
- They won’t listen to me.
Should I continue with these self-absorbed rationalizations for not reporting someone? We all know of and have heard a myriad of these in our working lives and careers. Ah, but the individuals in the organization are not the only ones at fault here either. It all comes down to the most dangerous attitude an organization can have toward violence…CHH.
The Can’t Happen Here attitude is one that will cause more financial loss and distress amongst organizations than any other. Basically, those three words say it all…complete denial. It also places at the top of the list of attitudes that can get people killed while at, or because of, where they’re at, school or work.
- I don’t have time to talk to them all the time; I’ve got others to coach/motivate/work with.
- That kind of stuff Can’t Happen Here. We pay & treat them well.
- We can’t worry about that. Let other companies come up with answers first before we do anything. (yes, I’ve heard this innumerable times)
- I’m not going to coddle them.
- I’ll get into trouble for profiling them as a trouble-maker.
- I’ll get into trouble for being a bully & picking on them.
- I’ll tell HR and let them handle it.
- They’re a good Joe, they’ll work it out themselves.
- If we discipline (suspend or terminate, it’ll slow down production.
- We don’t have time for that crap, Let them work it out themselves.
Does any of those sound familiar? In my 40 years in the security field, I’ve heard every single one of them. Sometimes it worked out. Other times the individual, even a valued one, exploded because of a personal issue that was dogging them. And had been for days, weeks, months, and in several cases years. The company finally took action…after an incident. Fortunately, none ended with a serious injury or fatality.
You may think that these justifications/excuses are a prime example of a bad organization. You may think that all good managers would see the signs and not allow the attitudes that foster violence to go on. But many times, the signs are so subtle that you have to know the individual to realize if there is really a problem…and then act upon them.
Then again, you can always simply make an excuse and justify your inaction for it and ignore it. Will it then bite you in the ass and give you rabies-like a rabid dog or raccoon? If it does, you’ll be in deep financial trouble, either from bad publicity, financial expenditures, or the lawsuit forcing you out of business, or possibly all of those and more.
“Excuses stop us from improving ourselves and from doing what needs to be done. They only lead to failure, not success”
You can check out my books and discover a whole lot more: Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention or Murder at Work: A Practical Guide for Prevention
Like these blogs? Then please feel free to pass them along, with proper attribution, to friends, colleagues, or anyone who may benefit, from proper attribution. Have them subscribe at my website: Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting
It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Anywhere… For any Reason
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear
Copyright 2023 Robert D. Sollars