Workplace Violence

  • Your actions may help calm a potentially violent situation, or they may escalate the problem.
  • Behave in a manner that helps calm a situation.
    • Stay calm and don’t be in a hurry.
    • Be empathetic.  Show you are concerned.
    • Try to have the person and you sit down; sitting is a less aggressive position.
    • Try to be helpful, for example, schedule an appointment for a later time.
    • Give positive outcome statements, such as, “We can get this straightened out.”
    • Give positive feedback for continued talking, such as, “I’m glad you’re telling me how you feel.”
    • Stay out of arms’ reach.
    • Have limited eye contact.
    • Take notes.
  • Avoid exacerbating behaviors:
    • Do not patronize.
    • Do not yell or argue.
    • Do not joke or be sarcastic.
    • Do not touch the person
  • If someone becomes agitated:
    • Leave the scene immediately, if possible.
    • Call the Cornell Police from a safe place.
    • Or, call a co–worker, using an agreed-upon code word to indicate trouble.
  • Practice preventive measures:
    • Avoid scheduling appointments for times when no one else is in the area.
    • Remove sharp and blunt objects from desks.
    • Try to avoid working alone after hours.
    • If you have to work late, advise a friend or family member.
    • When working after office hours, keep doors locked and do not open the door unless you are expecting someone.
    • Do not leave money or valuable belongings lying around.  Purses should be locked in a desk or cabinet.
    • Lock your office and/or lab doors when they are not in use, even when you are leaving for “just a moment.”
    • Always walk in well-lit areas and know your surroundings.
    • If you think you are being followed, do not go home; go where there are other people. Call the Cornell Police at 911 (or 607 255-1111 from a cell phone) as soon as you are in a safe place.
    • Report any strange or unusual activities immediately to your supervisor and the police.
    • Report any locks, windows or lights that are in need of repair to your building coordinator.