I recently began a new job at a major healthcare facility and today, as part of my new employee orientation, received training on violence in the workplace and basic self-defense. One statistic that surprised me? Nearly 60% of violence recorded occurs in hospitals (albeit probably not the most violent violence – I’m talking screaming, yelling, hitting, punching, grabbing hair kind of violence here). After some thought, it doesn’t really surprise me – hospitals are generally a place where people are anxious and tensions run high among patients and visitors and even staff.
Our leader started the workshop with an important statement: most violence occurs because one party is feeling disrespected or misunderstood. I think that is definitely true. How often have you seen a brawl result because the aggressor felt dissed?? When I was a teacher, students often fought with each other because someone bad-mouthed or taunted them. They lashed out at their teachers when they felt ridiculed or belittled.
While most of our training focused on how to call for help and extricate ourselves from combative situations, we discussed ways to diffuse or even prevent them by hearing and empathizing with the person and paying attention to his or her needs. Simply listening to someone voice their needs or concerns does a lot to relieve their anxiety and makes them feel safe. Respect, kindness, paying attention, listening, empathy – all of these things are directly linked with preventing violent outbursts. I felt that it was a message worth repeating and I hope you will too!