What to do when someone loses their cool at the office.
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Every now and then in business, we run into an uncomfortable situation where someone loses their cool and goes bananas. We primarily see this in situations involving the termination of an employee or when a worker blows up under pressure. They may not resort to armed violence, but such distractions can be disruptive and upset the harmony of the office, so we have to deal with it effectively and professionally.
We had a couple of situations like this over the years. The first that comes to mind was an employee who we terminated for poor performance. After being told his services were no longer wanted, he became visibly upset and refused to leave the building. The sheriff’s office was summoned who finally escorted him off the premises. After storing his personal items in his car, he stood out in front of our office and began yelling expletives at the company. Fortunately, the sheriff’s deputies removed him from the property. They asked if we wanted to press charges. We said, No, we just wanted him removed from the premises. Fortunately, this occurred at the close of business on a Friday, which is the right time to conduct terminations for this very purpose. You never know when a person is going to lose control.
I know of another company in the Tampa Bay area where an employee was terminated and instead of leaving, removed all of his clothes and sat at his desk, naturally making his co-workers uncomfortable as he couldn’t possibly be confused as a male model.
Our second incident involved a lawyer who was determined to serve our company with legal papers involving a tenant who had leased space in our building. Prior to his arrival, we received an unexpected tip the attorney was on his way. Learning of this, we locked the front door. Sure enough, the attorney came a few minutes later and tried to enter the building. Realizing the door was locked, he went into a verbal tirade outside demanding entrance. He was so obnoxious, we again called the sheriff’s office and had him arrested for trespassing. Interestingly, this marked the end of our legal hassles with our former tenant.
In both of our situations, it was tempting to go outside, confront the person and try to physically remove him from the property. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and we let local law enforcement handle the situation.
Such situations are uncommon, but as a co-worker you should always be cautious when a person goes into a rage. The best thing to do is avoid confronation, do not engage the person orally or physically, thereby entangling yourself in the problem. Simply walk away and allow management and law enforcement to handle it. In larger corporations there are trained security people to escort them off the property. Smaller companies do not have such a luxury and must rely on local law enforcement.
In the situation of a hostile terminated employee, it is best not to allow him back into the business as he/she may very well want a physical confrontation, possibly even involving gunfire. For the protection of the employees, it is best to keep the building under tight security until the person is off the property.
As to wacko attorneys, they may know the law, but it doesn’t mean they will adhere to it. It is wise to keep an eye on everyone coming and going to and from your facility, and keep the telephone number of law enforcement on your Speed Dial list. You never know when havoc will strike.
Keep the Faith!