Warning Signs

Managers and supervisors are urged to respond EVERY time to threats, intimidation, and/or actual violence, but to use common sense when assessing potentially violent behavior. No single tool or profile accurately predicts a person's potential for future violent behavior. On the one hand, individuals may exhibit one or more of the behaviors listed below and never respond with violence. On the other hand, someone may act violently without ever displaying any of these behaviors. Nevertheless, experience suggests the following behaviors may serve as warning signs of a potential for violence. If the behavior scares you or if you are experiencing or are a witness to these behaviors, contact a TMT member for consultation.

Potential Warning Signs

  • Poor workplace relationships marked by a pattern of unusual verbal conflicts or emotional outbursts
  • Acts of insubordination (a pattern of unusual acts of disobedience)
  • Blaming others for his/her life's difficulties
  • Indications of substance abuse (physical decline, behavior swings, tardiness, forgetfulness, anxiety attacks)
  • Subtle acts of intimidation (a pattern of posturing, overbearing behavior)
  • Marked decline in hygiene/appearance
  • Fits of rage and angry outbursts (screaming/yelling, swearing, wild violent gestures)
  • Veiled threat of violence (statement or behavior that implies an intent to harm or predicts that bad things are going to happen to an individual)
  • Flashing a weapon
  • Expressions of persecution/paranoia
  • Obsession with a grudge or "injustices" towards a specific individual or management
  • Expressions of extreme desperation over recent family, financial, or personal problems
  • Fascination with workplace violence (likes to discuss incidents of violence and condones it)
  • Preoccupation with weapons (frequent discussions about weapons and their use)

What You Can Do

Do not ignore or downplay direct or indirect threats from any person, as they could escalate into serious incidents. To prevent the escalation of such incidents, every member of the campus community should learn to recognize behavior that is disruptive, intimidating, or could potentially lead to violence.

All managers and supervisors should ensure that employees in your department are familiar with the Sustaining Community and Preventing Violence policy, including its protocol for responding to intimidation, threats of violence, and acts of violence. As a supervisor, you should take immediate steps to address problem behavior and ensure the safety of your employees. The TMT is available as a resource to assist you in taking appropriate action to respond to the situation.

Source: UC San Francisco Threat Management Team