July 2002

Disruptive behavior

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Learn to recognize and stop disruptive employees

by Laura Schieber
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Almost everyone has encountered a difficult person in the workplace. Sometimes, it's a hothead who erupts in anger with no provocation or warning. Other times, it's a silent sulker whose dark moods suck the life out of his entire team.

Princeton, N.J.-based market research firm Opinion Research Corp. International/Integra Realty Resources Inc. conducted a survey of 1,300 U.S. workers titled "Desk Rage in America: The Year 2000." Forty-two percent of respondents said yelling and verbal abuse were issues in their workplaces, and 29 percent admitted to yelling at co-workers. Furthermore, the Center for Aggression Management in Winter Park, Fla., estimates there are 6 million instances of employees being verbally threatened and 16 million instances of employee harassment in the United States per year.

These common explosions of work rage and harassment, including verbal abuse and threats, create a hostile work environment that increases employee tardiness, absenteeism and turnover. Victims of work rage also experience increased stress, which may lead to hypertension, substance abuse and decreased productivity. These negative outcomes can affect a business's bottom line.

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