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Why People Go Postal Essay

The phrase “going postal” was derived from an incident that occurred at a post office in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1983. During the incident, 14 postal workers were shot dead by a co- worker who then turned the gun on himself. Therefore, the phrase is associated with stress at work which then triggers violent behavior. Violence at work place is an issue that has raised concern in the recent past. Aggressive behavior at the workplace ranges from cases of physical assault to passive forms of aggression which include the withholding of resources, being late for meetings and failure to respond to phone calls and memos.

Some workers may consider their work to be stressful (Armstrong, p 53). Work place stress is perceived to be the major reason why people go postal. Due to the adverse effects the workplace stress has on the productivity of the workers and performance of organizations and companies, there is needed to develop strategies of managing stress. In this paper, the reason why people go postal will be discussed Discussion Since the incidents of murders at Edmond in Oklahoma occurred, any incident of violence and aggression behavior in an individual at the work place is referred to as going postal.

When workers are under pressure at work, they become stressed. Many cases of stress in workers are related to work and this may be due to conflicts or disagreements between workers, having trouble with the boss, changes in financial status, change of job position, altered responsibilities as well as fears about retirement. Although stress at work has adverse effects on an organization, it can also be advantageous. Stress if handled positively can stimulate productivity and creativity. Some psychologists even argue that for one to reach peak performance, a stress causing situation or event need to occur.

When a person manages to return to a normal state despite the stress then it does not trigger bad behaviour or habits in an individual. Work place stress may make one to go postal due to the tension it causes (Maxon, np). A natural pattern of human development causes one to experience a stress causing situation and event. This is then followed by a reaction whereby there is an increase in tension and a return to a relaxed state. One goes postal when if he or she is unable to return to a normal state.

Instead, stress becomes overwhelming and breaks the natural pattern of reaction to stress. In a factory, stress in workers can be associated to the work situation. For example, working in an uncomfortable environment may trigger stress. For office workers, stress is likely to result from poor inter-personal relationship. Some of the issues that may increase pressure on the workers include aversion of conflict, supervision, fear or tension among the team members. All these cases can lead to stress that can make a worker go postal.

The social or life situations can result to stress which over time can encourage aggressive behavior in a worker. This is because; the people with whom one relates and interacts with are core to social life. When issues that are antagonistic to good relationships occur at work, tension or hostility between workers may occur (Martin, p 42). For example, rumors and power plays can result to anger in workers who may be negatively affected. This makes a worker become aggressive or violent. Power plays among a company’s executives can be due to competition for promotion.

When the executives become engaged in extreme efforts to downplay one another, anger that results from the hostile relationship between them becomes a threat to their security if violent behavior is developed. This is why some workers have been involved in murdering their bosses or fellow workers. Ever since the 1980’s “going postal” has become a common phenomenon in the United States and although the early cases of the phenomena occurred in the postal industry, the trend is now being witnessed in non-mail related jobs, colleges and high schools.

Easy access of weapons such as guns acts as a catalyst to violence and aggression at work. When individuals undergo tension, they tend to seek for a way through which they can release the tension. Stress at work demands that one get assistance on how to deal with the tension. Unfortunately, failure by a worker to get help makes it easy for him or her to develop bad behavior that includes aggression against the co-workers. Easy access to murder weapons such as guns makes the situation worse. For example, normal gun ownership in some countries has in some cases led to high school massacre.

Concern about increasing cases of violence at work has had many employers, government and trade unions worried. For instance, the European commission has been involved in efforts to prevent work place violence. Violence at work is not viewed to be an individual problem but one that is rooted in wider organizational, socio economic and cultural factors (Duncan, p 84). Research findings show that violence and aggression at work has become an important security threat and official statistics in the United States indicate that homicide cases have made it a leading cause of occupational death.

Hostilities between workers may become abnormally high and this promotes violence at work. Some workers have asserted that they have been victims of threats, verbal abuse and physical violence. This can trigger violent behavior against the aggressors. Sexual harassment at work during the course of one’s occupational life can be very frustrating and humiliating. Some workers stay silent about the harassment if they fear professional disadvantage if they report about the harassment… If the harassment goes on for a long time, a worker may try to get revenge against the one who abuses him or her by murdering them.

Work place bullying which is characterized by cruel, vindictive and humiliating attempts in efforts to undermine an individual can result to poor worker interrelationships. Bullying at work can also make the working environment intolerable for some workers whose disappointment may lead to violence. Violence is due to the cruel treatment against a worker and these impacts negatively on professional and personal performance. This can make one go postal. Systematic collective violence at work can trigger violent behavior in the victim.

In this form of violence, ganging up against an employee and subjecting them to psychological harassment can lead to anger and hatred. For example, when a number of workers keep on gossiping, ridiculing and isolating an individual becomes very painful emotionally. Although such practices at work may be considered to be minor actions, they sometimes make the victim react to the collective violence by going postal. Young workers who may lack skills and experience can experience stress at work. Stress may occur when there is a conflict between the demands at home and at the work place (Lehrer, 46).

Severe work family conflicts can contribute to stress in workers. Furthermore, an increase in work load can become very demanding to a level where the worker finds it difficult to work due to stress. Cultural influences may prevent or encourage stress at work. For example, cultures where a strong value system provides support to workers who are under pressure enables them to deal with great amounts of stress. For instance, cultures such as the one found in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong are strong systems that assist workers to deal with stress.

Cultures that lack such systems make it easy for workers to become violent or go postal. Conclusion Workers can be considered to be the most important assets of an organization or company. The productivity of the workers and the performance of an organization depend on how favorable the working environment is to the workers. There are various factors that can adversely affect the success of a company or institution. One of the factors is stress at the work place. Stress at the work place can result from poor working environment, poor relationships between workers or problems at home.

In the past, stress at the work place has proved to promote psychological problems in workers. Some workers may become extremely aggressive or violent against their co-workers as they try to deal with the stressful situations at work. “Going postal” in a phenomenon that can be witnessed in workers when they become extremely aggressive or violent against others. In the past, cases of such behavior have been characterized by some workers shooting co-workers to death. Works Cited Armstrong, Michael . A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (10th ed.

). London: Kogan Page, 2006 Duncan, Chappell, Vittorio Di Martino. Violence at work International Labour Office, International Labour Organization, 2000 Lehrer, Paul et al. Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition. Guilford Press, New York, 2007 Martin, Gill, Vaughan, Bowie. and Bonnie, Fisher. Violence at work: and prevention causes, patterns, Willan Publishing, 2002 Maxon,Rebecca. Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic, FDU Magazine, 1999 www. fdu. edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress. html. Accessed on June 12, 2009


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