Workplace Violence makes perfect sense…

by todaystrainingblog

          Because the perceptions of the perpetrators is their Reality. Once they have that perception in their mind it is nearly impossible to change those perceptions.  Just like political parties demonizing each other, people not liking cats, dogs, snakes, spiders, or rodents.

           In other words all of the workplace violence (WPV) incidents you will encounter, whether it is in the media or personally, will make perfect sense to the perpetrators. If you want to consider it even worse… They can argue for the murder, or assault, logically. Possibly even worse they will argue something in total contrast in court when faced with that reality.

           The phrase that I began spouting more than 25 years ago is the reason why. Perception is reality, meaning that their perception of reality is why they commit these incidents. Like in any WPV, school (SV), or domestic violence (DV) situation. The perpetrators will figure a way to distort their reality and begin thinking they were right in doing what they did, no matter what the actual reality may be.  

           It is and will be practically impossible to dissuade them of their perceptions in their reality. And you may be thinking why would it be so difficult? Here are a few examples of reality being distorted for known, or unknown, reasons and horrible things happening because of that distorted vision;

The murders of Muslims during the Crusades

The murder of innocents by the Catholic Church during the inquisition

The subjugation of natives during the Spanish conquest of the Americas, for religious purposes

The genocide of American Indians during the frontier wars

The genocide of Armenians by the Turks before WWI

The Jewish holocaust in WWII

The genocide of his own people by Pol Pot

The Son of Sam who murdered for no apparent reason

The man who abuses his wife and says ‘she had it coming!’

The person who cuts off his wife’s head and his arm because they offended him

The individual who kills his boss because ‘the boss didn’t like me and kept me down’

The individuals who assault law enforcement for being racist

The teenager who says ‘I was bullied and they wouldn’t stop’

The politicians who demonize others for their beliefs that they consider wrong

The murder of Christians by ISIS and other radical Islamic groups

Shall we go on?


           Do any of these sound familiar? Of course they do. And mainly they sound familiar because we’ve heard it out of many perpetrators of WPV, SV, & DV. Not to mention those spouting their hate speech in the name of religion, race, gender, or ethnicity. And their reasoning, spoken or not? Their perception of their reality.

           As unrealistic as it may sound to us, these acts of violence were NOT senseless. It makes, and made, perfect sense! At least to those committing the crime. To the rest of us it doesn’t make sense to anyone. From law enforcement, to the media, to employees, shoppers, or visitors who were frightened out of their minds possibly for months or years to come. As well as anyone who refuse to see any other reality except of how their own perceptions of how reality should be.

          Perpetrating these kinds of violence against others, for what seems no identifiable purpose or reason, can mean the individuals are mentally disturbed in some form. Including, but not limited to:



Religious fervor

Political fervor

Mental disease

Anger management issues

Jealousy, which ties in with many of the above as well

          These perpetrators are just a few of the people who have a distorted view of the world and a real perception of reality. The key is that while 99% of all people believe that the violence was senseless; to the perpetrators of these incidents of violence, it made perfect sense, and supposedly they just snapped with no warning to anyone about what was going to occur. Which, of course security professionals know better, there are always the warning signs.

           If you look at every incident of WPV and SV over the past 30 years, the perpetrators had a distorted perception of the world. And literally no one could dissuade them of those perceptions. Whether that perception was of persecution, stalking, extra marital affairs, losing control of someone, being terminated from their employment or other reasoning, it was there, and in their mind it was perfectly acceptable to do what they did. All because of their perceptions of their reality.

           So were these all senseless acts? To us perhaps. To the perpetrators it made perfect sense to take other people with them when they went out. Did they have remorse after killing and wounding innumerable innocents? Most committed suicide, in WPV 66%, so we’ll never know. Those who survived, for the most part, they didn’t… “They deserved it”.

           The perceptions of an individual can be powerful within their own minds. We see it on a daily basis throughout our personal lives, culture, and society at large. Some of those perceptions can be termed wrong or misguided, but it is the perception of reality that helps to make people who they are. And in most respects the differences that makes us ponder, create, innovate, and push our limits forward.

           But then again, some of those perceptions are absolutely wrong. From trying to force others to do what they don’t want to, except for our laws to wanting the genocide of an entire race because of religion or ethnicity. Unfortunately the perceptions of reality to a handful of people will allow WPV, SV, & DV to continue and create chaos and havoc within our society.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear