Dangers in the Workplace– Backstabbing, Violence, Abuse, Stress… Beware: Better Watch Your Back…

Work can be a dangerous place; about two million workers are affected by workplace violence every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)… According to Mike Martin; workplace violence is a growing concern for many workers and the threat of violence at work is not just limited to physical assault: workplace violence can include; any act where a worker is– abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in the course of his or her work.

This can include a range of actions such as; threatening behavior, verbal or written threats, verbal abuse and, of course, physical abuse– hitting, shoving, pushing, kicking… With plenty of real warfare in the world, it’s hard to fathom the workplace being referred to as warfare: Yet, that is exactly what it is… The general perception is that the modern workplace is safe and well-managed and that there is hardly any possibility of any physical danger; but reality tells a different story…

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Statistically, the federal government doesn’t give any precise costs beyond saying that the impact on business runs somewhere in the billions of dollars, and citing the many– seen, as well as, unseen effects; ranging– from loss of good workers, to psychological damage on surviving workers, to public relations nightmares, to legal actions, to physical property being damaged, stolen, sabotaged… In addition, there are much higher costs for workers compensation, and increased costs for workplace security…

In the article What Makes Workplaces Dangerous by watchtower: Millions annually suffer serious, even life-altering, injuries at their workplaces. Many others die prematurely because of on-the-job exposure to dangerous substances or as a result of stress at work… Since work-related death and serious injury occur in almost all sectors of industry and commerce, it is appropriate to ask: Just how safe are you at your workplace? What situations there, might threaten your health and life? Tremendous pressure is often placed on workers to be productive, e.g.; in Japan the term ‘karoshi’– death from overwork– was first used in the compensation claims filed by bereaved families. According to a survey there, years ago, 40% of Japanese office workers feared possible death from overwork…

A lawyer specializing in such claims estimated that there were– at least 30,000 victims of ‘karoshi’ in Japan every year… The police in Japan have suggested that work-related problems are a key factor in the increase in suicide among 50- to 59-year-olds… According to the book; The Violence-Prone Workplace, one court held an employer liable for the suicide of an employee who was beset with work-related worries…

According to The Canberra Times (Australian newspaper) said that– U.S. has overtaken the Japanese in putting in the longest working hours in the world… Also, news stories with headlines such as; ‘Long Hours Are Working People to Death’, tell about fatigued workers, such as; ambulance drivers, pilots, construction and transport workers, and those working night shifts, being killed on the job…

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A British survey found that many office workers spend much of their working day in a state of irritation with colleagues, and that such conflict often triggers violent reactions… Another form of workplace violence is emotional abuse, which is recognized by the International Labor Organization as psychological violence; a major form of this abuse is bullying… According to Professor Robert L. Veninga; stress and its resulting illnesses impact workers in almost every corner of the world, and stress stems from impersonal, ever-changing, and often hostile workplaces…

In the article Beware of Workplace Frenemies by Robert DiGiacomo writes: Workplace ‘frenemies’ come in many guises, so be alert to the dangers lurking beneath some warm or appealing demeanor… According to Donna Flagg; many frenemies mean no harm, while others are workplace bullies whose power plays must be checked… To help you identify workplace frenemies, here are a few common types:

  • The Politician tell you one thing and tell the boss something else… the are in the boss’s office every 5 minutes, declaring their indispensable worth…
  • The Ambitious Ingenue is a direct report who professes nothing but admiration for your work– but beware; he or she may have a not-so-secret agenda: to take over your corner cubicle or climb even higher up the executive ladder…
  • The Funeral Director lives for crises and accentuates the negative of every situation — and appeals to the ‘inner Eeyore’… It’s all too easy to join in a self-perpetuating complaint-fest, and this negativity can be a career killer…
  • The Idea Thief appropriates your great idea from a public brainstorming session or other meeting, and passes it off as their own…
  • The Time Waster lurks by the proverbial water cooler, or parks in your cubicle, to chat about every possible topic– except the work at hand. And given the choice between analyzing profit-and-loss statements and talking about what’s up on your favorite reality show, it’s pretty easy to choose the latter…
  • The Wakeboarder uses charm to shift responsibilities to others, making them feel as if getting their work done should be others top priority…

In the article Watch Your Back by Leon Gettler writes: Watch your back because passive aggressive colleagues are stealth saboteurs, and they need to be handled with care… Remember the movie; Meet The Parents, starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller where the father keeps making snide little comments towards his prospective son-in-law, having digs at him about choosing nursing as a profession; that’s an example of a classic passive aggressive stance… Passive aggressive behavior is defined by traits such as; obstructionism,  procrastination, resentment, resisting suggestions, sullenness, blaming others, chronic lateness and forgetfulness, complaining…

Passive aggressive people also have trouble expressing hostility or anger openly. They avoid responsibility by claiming forgetfulness, they fear competition, and will often make excuses or lie to get out of doing something… According to Harvard Business Review; a passive-aggressive person may appear to comply with another’s wishes and may even demonstrate enthusiasm for those wishes, however the person will tend to perform the requested action– too late to be helpful, or in ways that are useless, or just sabotages the action to show anger that they cannot express in words…

In the article Protect Yourself From Untrustworthy Co-workers by Brandon Smith writes: What can you do to protect yourself? For a few strategies that can make the difference from getting blindsided by a untrustworthy colleague, consider the following:

  • Make it personal; you have heard the old adage– keep your friends close and your enemies closer– keep your work enemies close, e.g.; go of your way to say hello every day…
  • Build your allies; you need allies at work; your allies serve as your eyes and ears and lobby on your behalf when you are not around…
  • Document everything; a critical way to protect yourself is to have a– paper trail regarding your exchanges with untrustworthy or suspicious co-workers, but the trick is to not make it obvious…
  • Get close to your boss; stay close to your boss and keep his or her trust– become a loyal and constructive contributor to his or her team…
  • Do your job; do your job to the best of your abilities– it’s hard to argue against great performance…

It’s a nasty world in the workplace, and you need to be ready for it… According to Steven Wagenheim; there are people in the workplace who will put the screws to you just as soon as look at you– you must learn to watch your back… The workplace reality is such that you always will have more successful when someone is– ‘watching my back’…

According to J Rod; do not trust anyone in the workplace! The ones that laugh loudest when laughing at jokes will be the first one’s to run and tell; never treat the workplace like a social scene… According to Ji Hyun Lee; a backstabber is someone who pretends to be your friend, or on your side, and then turns around and does or says things that leads to you being– harmed, exposed, or treated badly as a result of things they said or reveal… it’s a form of manipulation and reveals a person who is– disloyal, insecure, very unsure of their own place…

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Then there are the ‘connivers’ who gain respect from attacking the efforts of co-workers and spread distrust of colleagues… and many managers are easily duped into believing that these hostile passive-aggressive employees who are masters at conniving everyone into believing their inflated sense of importance, productivity… are indispensable. Having allies in the workplace can be powerful weapons in dealing with conniving and hostile co-workers, so do your best to keep your office buddies close…

According to Dr. Dennis Reina; research found that gossip and backbiting are the number one killer of communication trust in teams; nine out of 10 employees experience this phenomenon in the workplace… Gossip is destructive because it damages relationships, invites retaliation and creates an environment of distrust. Ultimately, it causes the workplace to feel emotionally unsafe… According to Joan Lloyd; at some point in your career you are likely to have an ‘enemy’– someone who doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t like you, and someone who might even like to inject a little poison into your career!

It’s time to bring the dangers of the workplace out of the shadows and expose the real issues, but be alert… It’s ironic when you think about it that not only are you always being told, at work– how you are all one big happy family, but also how you never, and I mean ever, really believe it: The workplace can be a dangerous place, protect yourself and watch your back…