Nonverbal communications skills to head off workplace violence

by on March 8, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Are communications skills a safety tool you should consider training workers to use?

Maybe, if you believe behavioral scientists’ conclusion that certain of these skills can help defuse workplace confrontations that otherwise could escalate into violence.

Do’s and don’ts
Canada’s occupational health and safety agency points out five nonverbal communications do’s and don’ts that can either calm or aggravate a volatile situation:


  • Use “calm” body language. This involves a relaxed posture with hands unclenched and an expression that shows you’re paying attention.
  • Get on the other person’s level. You’ll seem threatening if you “tower” over the other person. If they’re sitting, kneel or bend over.
  • Keep your distance. Too close also feels threatening. Stay at least three feet away from the other person if at all possible.

But don’t:

  • Challenge with your stance. Postures that suggest you’re spoiling for a fight include hands on hips, pointed fingers, and arms waving or even crossed.
  • Glare or stare. Looks like these are primal signals of aggression.

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