"Barry" frequently talks to himself, sometimes asking questions and then answering them.
Q: One of our co-workers acts as though he could snap at any moment. “Barry” frequently talks to himself, sometimes asking questions and then answering them. He gives orders to others as though he’s still in the military. When people talk about certain subjects, he becomes quite agitated.
Several of us shared our concerns about Barry with human resources, but so far nothing has been done. Since I don’t feel safe around this person, I have considered looking for another job. Do you have any thoughts about this?
A: Predicting whether someone may become violent is difficult, even for clinically trained therapists. Some unusual people are dangerous, while others are simply odd. However, the fact that Barry makes you uneasy suggests that you should be careful around him.
When interacting with Barry, don’t do anything to antagonize him. Remain pleasant and friendly, but avoid lengthy discussions, especially about topics which seem to upset him. If he begins to talk about conspiracies, weapons, or people who have done him wrong, those could be significant warning signs.
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Since you and your colleagues continue to feel threatened, arrange another meeting with the HR manager or security department. They may wish to consult an outside expert who can help evaluate the situation. But if you truly fear for your safety, your inclination to leave may be correct. Lacking a crystal ball, you should do whatever seems necessary to protect yourself.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.