Violence at Work (UK)

Violence at work - Twenty Tips


1. Be clean, smartly turned out, polite, considerate - and interested to help others.

2. Ensure your attitude and behaviour is not going to be the cause of anyone's anger. (Get honest confirmation - and reassurance - from colleagues that your approach, mannerisms, traits, sayings, etc. are unlikely to inflame a situation.)

3. Be able to give your full attention to the people you deal with.

4. Stay alert to changes in the "threat level" you are facing.

5. Be able to summon support from colleagues/ police quickly (and able to say where you are!)

6. Be able to leave a situation. (Keep your escape route open!)

7. Ignore abuse and bad language and remain as calm as you can - if you're not in control…they are.

8. Speak slowly and clearly, using a soft tone and simple words - Don't use workplace jargon!

9. Establish what the person wants (appropriate use of Who, Why, What, When, Where and How)

10. Refer problems that you can't resolve to your supervisor as early as possible.


During confrontations:

1. Be acutely aware of your proximity to the other person - ensure you keep a safe distance away.

2. Don't take your eyes off the person for a second, stay focussed on the 'threat'.

3. Never stand directly in front of an aggressive or otherwise 'potentially dangerous' person. (If you have to be close to them stand to one side.)

4. Never fold your arms or put your hands behind your back or in your pockets, or cross your legs in a way that would impede/ restrict their immediate use for defence /escape.

5. Don't lean over people who are sitting down

6. Try not to engage in prolonged eye to eye contact with the other person - its a very aggressive signal.

7. Make sure you don't give the other person ANY reason to think you have lost interest in them, or that you regard them as daft or stupid. (Avoid saying "Don't be silly!")

8. Keep your hand actions small and your movements slow (Quick, sudden movements could alarm the other person.)

9. Give them plenty of positive feedback that you are listening to what they say. (e.g. Nodding your head, saying "Mmmh. Yes, I see." And, from time to time, paraphrasing and repeating back what they have said so as to confirm understanding.

10. Be as patient as you possibly can! Watch for 'Danger Signs' and leave if you feel unsafe.