Destructive behaviors within the workplace are quite tricky to deal with–they may appear subtly, and before you know it, the situations goes out of hand. This can be a challenge if you are a business owner who would like some degree of control and order within a high-risk industry.

Workplaces where destructive behaviors are quite common–you can see them in drug & alcohol treatment centers, healthcare, educational settings, and even in the corporate world. Patients and clients should be given the utmost care and attention, especially those who exhibit destructive behaviors towards themselves and others.

If you own a high-risk business, how do you train your staff to be aware of an individual who causes destructive actions? What are the best ways to deal with this? Below are some of the possible signs of aggression, and what your staff can do to control the situation as it arises.

Signs of Destructive Behaviors in an Individual

Threats to harm oneself or others

The first obvious sign of destructive behavior in clients are verbal threats to harm oneself or other people. Most individuals who do this are often in an aggravated state, especially if they can’t get what they want or if they feel like some people are against their actions. Tell your staff to be aware of verbal threats such as “I’m going to hurt myself” or “I’m going to kill you” as this can be a potential sign of destructive behavior.

Obvious physical manifestations of self-injury

Does your staff notice a patient with obvious signs of bruises, cuts, scratches or unexplained forms of injury? These could be a possible sign of self-inflicted pain. Often people who are mentally unstable, emotionally drained, or those who are under the influence of drugs may be more prone to self-harm. It is best for your staff to take note of these injuries and possibly understand its underlying cause.

Often causes conflict within the facility

A facility should be a place of retreat and recovery. When an individual often picks fights with fellow patients, argues with staff members, or draws attention to themselves in a negative way, it could be a glaring sign of destructive behaviors. Not only does this slow down the individual’s process of recovery, it could also disrupt others’ path to wellness.

Makes use of objects to vandalize or destroy areas of the facility

Even if a client does not pose physical harm to oneself or others, a possible sign of destructive behavior is their actions towards the environment. Some of these include vandalism of public property, wrecking glasses, punching walls, or causing other forms of damage to the equipment within the facility.

How to Train Your Staff in Dealing with Destructive Behavior

Giving reinforcements

In human behavioral psychology, it is understood that people are often act the way they do because they have a motivation to do so. For example, a patient who may present threats to other people react in response to a minor conflict that became overblown in proportions. To put the situation in order, staff members must encourage positive behaviors through praise and rewards, and inhibit negative behavior through warnings and removal of privileges.

Establishing authority within the facility

Another important factor to remember when training staff who deal with clients daily is through the reminders on establishing authority. Destructive behavior may also be caused by the desire to gain some sort of status or power within the environment. People who are aggressive in nature display these acts to intimidate others and get what they want. When staff members cave in to such an individual’s desires, the authority is being handed from them to the destructive individual. It is important for staff members to understand that they are the ones who can control the situation, and not the other way around.

Making environmental modifications

Some types of destructive behavior are encouraged because of environmental factors. It could be being assigned close by an incompatible client or being nearby equipment that provokes them to be self-injurious. In such instances, environmental modifications should be implemented right away. Some ways to do this could be changing room assignments, removing sharp or hard objects from the person’s access, or wearing protective clothing to help prevent further injuries.

Giving opportunities for counseling

Destructive behaviors may also be caused by personal conflict expressed through unhealthy ways. Another helpful way for staff members to deal with such individuals is through counseling referral or simply being open to listen to the person’s troubles and inner struggles. Staff members should be as compassionate as they are firm in handling challenging types of individuals.

The best way to train your staff to deal with destructive behavior is by developing a keen sense of the various signs. Once your members are able to do this, they can contribute to developing a plan that would make each situation better.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.