Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anger Solutions Radio Finds a Home on blog Talk Radio

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Starting in January 2010, I am very excited to bring you a new venture: The Anger Solutions Radio Show - hosted by yours truly, the Anger Lady. The Anger Solutions Radio Show is a program dedicated to straight talk about stuff that really matters - and looks at it all through the lens of Anger Solutions philosophy.

Whether you're a stay-at-home mom, a single parent, a grad student, or a top level executive with a corner office, we all share a common thread - that is, we all experience anger and stress from time to time. Our show is not JUST about anger and stress though - that would get a little boring. We're going to tackle real issues that contribute to those emotions as well as the issues that stem out of them.

We'll be talking with experts from various fields, celebrities, authors, and people from walks of life just like you. Topics we'll be covering will include schoolyard and workplace bullying, starting over in life, love, and work, anger in sports, dealing with debtor's stress, and much much more!

There will be a theme for every month that we're on the air: January's theme is aptly titled, "New Beginnings". Our guest lineup for January includes:
  • Entrepreneur and businessman, Robert Fulton to discuss recovering from financial crisis
  • Author and speaker, Dr. Lisa Barrow to discuss life after workplace bullying
  • Personal branding expert, Paul Copcutt to talk about the value of personal branding for one's career.
More guests will be added as their interview dates are confirmed.

I can't tell you how pumped I am about the program - I think it's going to be insightful, entertaining, thought provoking, and above all else, educational.

Tune in to the program LIVE every Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern or log in to BTR at anytime to listen to the archived shows. Live listeners can call in and ask questions of our guests, which is an added bonus! Join us for the first regularly scheduled show Friday, January 8, 2010 at 10 a.m. when I'll be chatting with Robert Fulton.

From all of us here at Leverage U and the extended Anger Solutions family, I wish you all the best of happiness, health, and abundance for 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Five Mistakes People in Debt Crisis Tend to Make

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInWhen people find themselves in a debt or financial crisis there are five typical behaviours that may occur. In this 13 minute video, Julie Christiansen, the Anger Lady shares those five blunders, and what you can do to avoid them.

To get your name on the list for this e-book when it launches, visit and send in a request form with DEBT EBOOK in the subject line. Yours in reclaiming financial stability,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Anger Solutions for the Holidays

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInOh the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful... Yes, that sounds very romantic and idealistic in the lyrics of a song, but the truth is that often, while the weather outside might indeed be frightful, the climate indoors when families come together is not much better.

I don't know why exactly, but I have heard it over and over again that the holidays seem to bring out the worst in some families. Here are jus some of the things my clients and customers have relayed to me about holiday gatherings - and I'm not making this stuff up:

  • I hold my anger in all year until right about Christmas time - and then when the whole family gets together, usually someone says something that is like, "the last straw", and I just explode! I lambaste the whole family and then I'm good for another year.
  • Every time our family gets together, it always becomes a contest about who was treated the worst, who had the most unhappy childhood, and who was daddy's favourite.
  • I hate family get togethers - my brother always says something unsavoury or rude, and it just ruins the whole thing!
  • I would rather spend Christmas on the other side of the world, alone - than spend it with my family. They make me feel so unloved and unwanted.

That's pretty depressing, isn't it! Yet, a vast majority of people reading this can relate, and may even be nodding their heads in agreement with some of the above statements! So - how do we get through the holidays unscathed? Here are some tips for surviving holiday stress and beating holiday anger - the Anger Solutions way.

  1. Remember the reason for the season. The holidays are not about presents. They are not about airing family grievances. They are not even about the turkey and the trimmings. The holidays are about honouring your faith, and spending quality time with the ones that you love as you celebrate. Keep your focus on the reason why your family is coming together, rather than all the horrid memories of Christmases past.
  2. Consider your desired outcomes. We teach this until we're blue in the face with Anger Solutions: your events PLUS your responses equal your outcomes. The challenge is that too often, we don't pre-consider what outcomes we would like to achieve. Ask yourself: "How would I like this Christmas or holiday gathering to turn out?" "What's the best way to ensure that my outcomes are realized?" Decide in advance, what measures you can take to do an end-run around those who would attempt to derail your plans. My number one priority outcome is always to create great memories. If that is your priority outcome, how can you make that happen? That brings us to our next strategy:
  3. Solicit partners in positive outcomes. Do you like the ring of that? Partners in positive outcomes. Talk to your family members BEFORE your big event. Be honest about your misgivings and state your expectations. Go beyond asking questions about who is bringing the sweet potatoes or the dessert. It might sound something like this: "So Christmas dinner is at our house this year, and I know we all want to have a really great time. What I'm hoping for is that we can all put aside any of the family stuff that we deal with all the rest of the year, and just really enjoy each other's company."
  4. If there is a particular family member who tends to be the instigator, prepare a plan for how you will deal with this individual's behaviour. You may want to be proactive, and address them prior to the get-together in the hopes that they will agree to be on their best behaviour. Another approach is to call them on their behaviour as soon as they begin with their typical antics. Do this by calling them aside privately - no need to embarrass them or the rest of the family. Very gently and compassionately identify the behaviour that is problematic and request that they discontinue the behaviour for the rest of the evening. E.g. "Mom, I know that you want to be involved in the preparation of the food, and I'm grateful that you're here to help, but when you openly criticize my cooking in front of the family, I feel minimized and belittled. I'm guessing that others here might feel uncomfortable when that happens as well. I'm sure you don't mean to do that, but that is how I feel all the same. So I'm asking you if you would be kind enough to keep your criticisms to yourself for the rest of the night - I would really appreciate that." Other approaches may be to ban the "meddling" instigators from the kitchen under the premise that they deserve to relax and mingle while the last minute preparations are taken care of. This always works better when two or more people deliver the same message.
  5. Be prepared for awkward moments. If you follow this blog, then you know you have seen the TSA model before, but it will really help you if you find yourself experiencing a frustration signal during your family get togethers. Here it is again in a nutshell: THINK - What is happening? What does it mean? How do I feel about it? How would I like this to be resolved? What should I do next? SAY - "I feel... I need... I would like... " Here's a little tip - rather than saying, "Please don't" - identify the exact behaviour that you would like to see instead. It keeps the conversation positive, and also clarifies your expectations for the other person. ASK - "Can you see where I'm coming from?" "How can we work together to help everyone have a really great time tonight?" Get the other individual involved in the problem solving process and you will get through even the awkward moments - AND you'll do it together.
  6. Develop a structure for the evening. It doesn't have to be a fully programmed dinner party; however, it may be more enjoyable and less stressful if you have a basic idea of how the evening will flow. Here's an example:

- start with appetizers of course - people can mingle, listen to music, get caught up with each other while the last minute meal prep is being taken care of. Ensure that the beverages and finger foods are NOT in the kitchen area, so you can minimize traffic through your workspace. You may want to have some space set aside for the kids/youth in the family so that they can hang out, play games, watch TV or socialize while they wait for the food to be served as well. Once dinner is over, the designated cleanup crew clears the tables and gets them prepped for dessert. You may want to bring out some games (quiet ones at this point) - card games, chinese checkers, battleship, etc. for people to play. There are of course lots of new fun games on the market that engage conversation, and can be played by a large number of people. These are ideal to hel people stay focused on having fun, rather than wanting to bring up old family grievances. If there is a time for gift giving, designate a time for this as well.

I trust you will find this advice helpful as you prepare to go full steam ahead into the holidays. Above all else, remember the reason for the season - that is my first and last piece of advice to you. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and above all, be blessed!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Do Workplaces Need Anger Management or Anger Solutions?

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Here is a re-posting of some interesting observations on workplace anger from Frank Szivos, contributing writer to Westport, "Is letting off steam in the workplace allowed?"Posted: 04/09/2009

A recent Gallup poll showed that anger is becoming one of corporate America's biggest problems. In the poll, two of every ten employees admitted being angry enough to "hurt" a co-worker. Mis-managed anger is exploding more frequently in the workplace.

Organizations can generate strong emotions among workers who are working in a competitive environment. In some instances, anger is not always a bad thing. Workers who care and are invested in projects or their job will feel strongly about how things are done. While flare ups are expected, the workplace is experiencing more serious chronic emotional issues.

On bad days, due to the disagreements and resentments brewing in the office, it's amazing that any work gets done at all. The situation can grow tenser among corporations and businesses when it occurs between upper management and subordinates. When the boss is angry, employees can catch the fallout, leaving them resentful and angry with little recourse to express their emotions.

Victoria Brescoll, a professor of Management at Yale School of Management, has found that anger management can be even more frustrating for women, who often aren't given equal status on the job.In the workplace, women are less expected to express anger. If they do, they can be labeled as "difficult," Brescoll notes. Anger is more identified as a male emotion."There are a lot of negative consequences when women get angry at work," Brescoll said. "In general, women have less status and respect on the job. Data shows that women are less likely to express their anger in the office, and men are less likely to express other emotions, such as fear or sadness."
Because of the recession and cut backs in staff, individuals are more likely to hang onto jobs where they are experiencing frustration, but see no other options at this time. Dissatisfaction can create a hair trigger environment.

Anger typically flares because of one or all three basic trigger beliefs:
*An employee thinks a situation is unfair. As an example, the worker has to stay late and believes others don't.
*It's happening to me only. Workers feel suggestions or efforts are ignored or they're singled out negatively.

*They feel powerless. It's too difficult to make headway against the current of the work culture.
It's natural to feel anger and frustration. (However, beware if you're chronically angry, which can stem from emotional issues). With so much work to do, little downtime, and many different personalities, conflicts are bound to occur on the job. The occasional flare-up is one thing, but a workplace that is seething is quite another.

You can read the whole article at

My thoughts:

Quite right... a workplace that is seething is not a fun place to be, and can in fact be quite dangerous. A 1994 study found that Canada is the 4th most dangerous country in which to work - this study has never been refuted. Workplace anger continues to rise in part because of frustration, stress, feeling overused and underappreciated, overworked and underpaid - the list goes on. Add to that the pressures of today's financial climate, and we have a potentially explosive situation.

So here are some tips from an Anger Solutions perspective for whenever you are faced with an anger-inducing situation, use this model for problem solving.

THINK - what is happening? what does it mean? how do I feel about it? how would I like this problem to be resolved? what is the best option for resolution? what is the best/worst thing that can happen if I respond with this option?

SAY - talk to the people or person involved in the situation. Be sure to separate the person from the problem. Speak about the issues - do not lay blame or place judgement. Talk about how you feel - not how other people "make you feel". Be clear about how you would like to solve the problem and how the other person can engage with you in the solution.

ASK - ask for a response. "Do you understand where I'm coming from?" - "How can we work together to ensure this doesn't happen again?" Ask questions that are empowering and assume that you can, in fact, achieve a positive outcome.

Keep working through this TSA model until you have reached an agreement or you agree to disagree.

Release residual anger - go for a walk, take a break from your work space, squeeze a stressball, or go to the gym after work and release the energy there. This will help your physiology and your emotional state to return to baseline. Then you won't be carrying around negative energy that can compound over time and contribute to a chronically toxic or angry workplace.
Want to learn more about Anger Solutions? Visit for more information.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Drowning in Debt? So was I...

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInSolutions for Sinking in Debt
It wasn't that long ago that my husband and I were sinking deep in debt. We owed $248,000. We were homeless. He was jobless. We had lost our house, our car, our social status, and our sense of who we were as a couple.

We call those days the "Dark Ages". It was 12 years ago that our life fell apart - and we found ourselves starting over with absolutely nothing but faith, hope, and love.

Imagine yourself, a young couple still in your 20's, with three young kids to take care of, and nowhere to call your own. Imagine having no money for first and last month's rent, and no one to buy the house you can't afford to keep. Imagine wondering if you will have to sleep in the car - wait a minute... you sold that to pay down your debt. Imagine... looking around your community and wondering where would be a safe place for you and your family to stay.I

magine applying for government assistance only to have them tell you they can't help - your mortgage payments are too high - your house is worth too much. See yourself trying to explain that the house value is dropping by the day, and you can't attract any buyers.

Hear the welfare worker apologize and say she wishes she could help - here's a few hundred dollars for groceries and diapers. After that, you're on your own.

Imagine not knowing where to go for help. And imagine yourself trying to keep up the pretense of "everything being okay" to the outside world, while your life is shattering into pieces around you.

This was our story. Perhaps it is your story too. Debt has a way of pushing you down, oppressing you until you feel you can't breathe. I have written an E-Book that shares our story, and shows you how in less than 6 years, we were able to become entirely debt free so we could re-build our life. I wrote the E-Book because I remember how lost we were. And how proud we were. We didn't want people to know what we were going through or how bad it was.

We were embarrassed that we were losing everything we had worked so hard for. We were afraid of what it would mean if people found out.

That fear prevented us from reaching out, asking for help, doing research, and a host of other things that could have saved us from financial ruin. I hope that by sharing our story and showing you the steps we took to save ourselves, that you will learn from our mistakes, follow the advice we share, and avoid the heartache that we experienced.

If you're in the thick of it right now, fill out the form on this page and put your name on the wait list for the E-Book. If you need the E-Book, don't worry, it isn't going to cost you an investment of $179 like some other "get rich quick" folks will charge you. Not $99, or even $59. You will be able to get this E-Book for less than $10.

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Why am I doing this? Why am I offering it so cheap? Because I know what it is like to have to choose between a pair of stockings and a bag of milk for the kids. I know what it is like to have to pray that money will come from somewhere, anywhere - to help us from situation to situation. I know that if you REALLY need this E-Book, it would be wrong to ask you to sacrifice $179, $99, or even $59 when you could use that for next week's groceries.

So why am I charging you anything at all? Why not just give it to you for free? Because I also know that when you pay for something, it demonstrates your need, as well as your willingness to follow through. It means you are taking ownership for your problem, AND you are showing your commitment to finding a solution. So don't worry - it is affordable, and it is filled with sound advice from one who was once buried in the trenches, and fought her way out.

Contact me today. Let me know you want a copy of the new E-Book and I'll be sure you are at the head of the pack when the E-Book is released in about 10 days time.Your partner in creating lasting solutions,

Julie Christiansen

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anger Solutions RePost: You are a Gun, With a Twist

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInI always marvel at that slogan: "Guns don't kill people... People kill people". Yeah - that's true, but all too often, people kill people - using guns!

Early in my book, Anger Solutions, I use the analogy of "triggers". We all have triggers that people or situations can pull (or buttons people can push) that sets of a chain of reactions in our thoughts, words, and actions. Does that mean that when people push your buttons, or pull your triggers, that you have to fire? This distinction became clearer for me during a coaching session some time ago. It occurred to me that my client always seemed to correlate his behaviours with what people do. It's always someone's fault - if only things weren't so stressful, if only people would do what he wanted them to, if only he weren't under so much pressure from his clients... he wouldn't be so aggressive and intimidating. He also has made it quite clear that he can turn off his aggressive behaviour style when he is with certain people, but it comes out full swing with others.

So I had to ask: "Do you believe that other people are responsible for what you do?"I gave him this as homework to think about... What you do is not a function of people or situations around you; what you do is a function of your choice.

You may be like a gun, with triggers that can set you off, but the twist is that you are a human being - not an inanimate object. You cannot be manipulated into firing, unless you allow yourself to be. You ultimately make the choice to be aggressive, to be threatening, or to be intimidating, just as much as you make the choice to be nice, passive, or to "kiss butt". Very often people make these choices unconsciously or automatically - they do not realize that they are in control.

A large part of the Anger Solutions program is to wake people up to the realization that they are in control of what they think, do, or say - even when their hot buttons are being pushed.So the next time someone or something pushes your buttons - remember, you are a gun with a twist.

You can make a choice about how you respond based on the following factors:
* what is really happening
* what it means to you now and what it will mean in the future
* what kind of outcome you would like to see come from this event (e.g. do you want to go to jail for assault or would you like to resolve the situation assertively?)
* how important is the person (or the people) involved in this situation, and how would your like your relationship to progress from this point? Your choice of behaviour will determine where it goes from here.

Remember this the next time you decide to fire at will. Guns kill people. People kill people too. You are both a gun AND a person with the power of choice. Choose wisely.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anger Solutions Train the Trainer Nov.18-20/09

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis is your last opportunity to register for the Fall iteration of Anger Solutions Train the Trainer course. Click on the photo to enlarge it - right click and "Save Target As..." to your computer so you can print it out. This course is designed for group facilitators who are looking for cost-effective training that has teeth and longevity. Teeth - because this program works. The documented success rate for Anger Solutions grads (those who complete the group or individual coaching) has never dipped below 80% in 12 years - this far surpasses any other anger "management" program on the market. Longevity - because as a Certified Trainer, you can train other staff in your agency as well as in your community; thereby ensuring the program's lifespan within your agency. No more worries about high turnover, a sick facilitator, scheduling problems, or lateral moves within the organization. With several of your staff trained by you in AS, someone will always be available to jump in. Call 1-866-754-6169 TODAY to get registered!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Domestic Violence and Murder in Florida - Was it Anger?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis just in: Fla. mother slain with five children had been warned of danger by friend
This story was Submitted by SHNS on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 13:09

Marie Aimee lay awake, replaying old conversations with her best friend in her head. "We always said, 'Guerline, if he tries to kill you, just leave him,'" Aimee said. "Don't let him kill you."
Police told a family member Guerline Damas' husband, Mesac Damas, did just that, slitting her throat and that of their five children.
Saturday night at 8:30, Aimee got a phone call she had dreaded receiving for the nine years she knew Guerline Damas.
Damas was dead, and worse, her five children were found dead with her. Mesac Damas, 33, the father and "person of interest" in the case is believed to be in Haiti following a Friday morning flight out of Miami.
... She said she had been telling Guerline Damas for years to leave her husband, whom she married two years ago after the birth of their fourth child together, Megan, 3. The other four children were Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; and Morgan, 11 months.
They had married two years ago.
... They went to an anger management class together on Wednesday... On Friday, Guerline Damas failed to show up for work.
The employee said that when reached, Mesac Damas said his wife was sick and was on her way to the hospital.
Collier County Clerk of Court records show a history of domestic violence charges against Damas' husband involving Guerline Damas and some of her children. Records show there also was a charge filed against Guerline Damas, with her husband listed as the victim, but it was dropped.
In a Sunday press conference, Sheriff's Office officials said they had received calls about disturbances in the Dieu-Damas home as far back as 2000. January 2009 was the only time deputies had enough evidence to arrest Mesac Damas, however. Officials said the couple had been together for 10 years.
Marie Aimee said Mesac Damas was physically violent, as well as controlling.
"Sometimes he was breaking down everything in the house," Aimee said. "He was always getting her money and spending it on nothing."
Up to 10 million children experience domestic violence every year and more than three women are murdered by their partners every day in the United States, according to Family Violence Prevention Fund statistics.
Oberhaus said the majority of domestic violence relationship murders occur when the woman has decided to leave or shortly thereafter, and that it is important to establish a safety plan to prevent such tragedies from occurring.

Naples Daily News staff writer Matt Clark contributed to this story.
(Leslie Williams is a reporter for the Naples Daily News in Florida.)
I have said it before and I'll say it again: it is time to STOP assuming that when a man exerts his physical power over a woman or her children that it is an anger issue. Anger management will NOT save these women from their abusive partners.

Domestic violence is not an anger issue. This is about power and control - poor self-mastery skills on the part of the abuser. You ask an abuser what it is about - if he were completely self-aware and honest with himself, he would say, "It is about making you feel small so I can feel strong. It is about me forcing you to love me, to stay with me, to take care of me, to please me, because I do not feel that I could deserve that love any other way. I'm not angry, I'm scared. Scared that you'll leave me. Scared of what that will say about me. I'm scared that I can't change and I can't stop. I'm scared of the monster that I have become. But I can't blame me, so I'll blame you. If only you would do what I want, have sex when I want, shut those kids up, put dinner on the table when I want it, quit your job because your independence makes me feel insecure... if you would do all of that I wouldn't have to beat you. But then even if you do all of that, the fact that you have self control and I don't - that says negative things about me too. I hate myself but I'm too much of a coward to hurt myself, so I'll hurt you instead. At least then, I feel powerful, and I feel in control."

Please, please, please, crown attorneys, district attorneys, family lawyers, and judges - please stop sending these men with mile-long rap sheets for domestic violence to anger management classes. Send them to programs for men who batter, and get their families away from them before it is too late.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Now it's Serena's Turn: Anger on the Court

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInI must say I was shocked and disappointed to see Serena Williams' unwarranted, grossly unsportsmanlike outburst this weekend. Whether there was a line fault is not the issue. Whether or not the linesperson was incompetent is not the issue. Whether or not Serena was losing anyway is not the issue. The issue here is that this young lady clearly does not know how to treat other people with respect and dignity when she is feeling angry. Secondly, Serena clearly has difficulty owning up to her mistakes and making apologies; rather, she hides behind bravado, choosing to minimize her behaviour, likely in an attempt to cover up her embarrassment for acting so aggressively.

In Anger Solutions, we use a little questionnaire to help people identify their anger responses and how those responses serve them. It looks like this: "When I feel angry, I _______ (behaviour) and immediately I feel _______ (feeling); and later I feel _____________ (feeling).

Based on what I saw yesterday, Serena's completed form might look like this: "When I feel angry, I yell, swear, intimidate, and threaten the person that made me angry, and immediately I feel powerful and superior; and later I feel embarrassed."

I read a comment online that said that Serena needs to grow up, eat crow, apologize, and take anger management classes. I kinda-sorta agree with that comment. Yes, she needs to grow up. Yes, she needs to apologize. Yes, she needs to learn how to effectively express her anger - but she needs more than a class. She needs to learn how to make the process of anger resolution a part of her lifestyle. Like it or not, she is a public figure with a huge following. She has a responsibility to do better and to set an example - the weight of that responsibility may even be heavier because she is black and a woman. Whatever the case, her behaviour was unacceptable and she knows it. She just doesn't know how to admit it. Therein lies her problem.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Solving the Susan Boyle Phenomenon

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We all know of Susan Boyle, the “frumpy” Scottish spinster who skyrocketed to fame with her jaw-dropping rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent. Countless articles and stories have been written about Su-Bo (Soo-Bow) as she is now affectionately called; several of them focusing on our obsession with looks. (Case in point - read this blog entry, which is also the source of the photo you see here...

Much of this speculation of course stems from the initial response of the judges and the audience prior to Susan’s audition – judging her by her looks, and her small town accent rather than giving her talent the benefit of the doubt. Why did so many people get it wrong? Why could they not “see” her talent before she showed it to them?

I believe we can turn to Anger Solutions philosophy to find the answer to this question – and no, this is in no way a “stretch”. One of the key principles of Anger Solutions is that we approach every experience with a certain level of expectations. We also refer to Dr. William Glasser’s concepts of our real world experience being filtered through our senses, our values, and our past experiences; this leads to the world as we see it, or our perceived world. We constantly compare our perceived world against our ideal world – pictures we have in our minds of how things really should be.

Put this all together then. Is it possible that we have certain unconscious expectations or “ideal world” pictures of what opera singers look like? Do we expect all talented people to also be beautiful? When we looked at Su-Bo and heard her sad story, is it possible that we turned to our senses (what we saw, heard, and felt), our values (she’s not pretty – is not educated – has never been kissed; how could she have a good singing voice?), and our past experience (every other opera singer looks different, speaks differently, has had formal training, etc.), and then made a decision about Su-Bo before she ever opened her mouth to sing?

In Anger Solutions we describe the point of “frustration” or anger as the point at which our experiences do not match up to our expectations. In the case of Susan Boyle, the same process of experience colliding with expectations generated quite the opposite effect. The majority of people prejudged her based on their filters. They created a pre-conceived notion of what their experience of her singing would be before she ever actually began to sing. They experienced their “frustration” signal completely in their minds.
BUT when Su-Bo let loose the latent talent within her, that frustration immediately melted away and was replaced by surprise, shock, and indeed absolute appreciation. Suddenly, her frumpy looks were unimportant – nothing a quick makeover can’t fix. Her accent was rendered irrelevant, and the fact that she had never been kissed simply became the romantic exclamation point to an incredible Cinderella-like story.

What can we learn from this? Two things:
1) Although they sometimes last forever, first impressions are often inaccurate. If we open our minds up to the possibility that there could be more than one “ideal world” scenario, we will be both disappointed and surprised less often.
2) When we lower our expectations, we sometimes end up getting much less than what we bargained for – but every now and then, we get so much more.

Thank you, Susan Boyle for reminding us that if a middle-aged frumpy spinster can “change her stars”, then so can we. Thank you too, for treating us to one of those rare moments when our experience completely exceeded our expectations.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Correction: the tax issue

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One slight correction - the AS Audio Book is a CD so I must charge PST on it as well as GST. Sorry! Blame the Provincial Government...This also applies for AS4K - I must also charge PST on the CDs, but only those. This will show as a minimal charge on the invoices. Again, sorry - blame the province.Ciao for now!

New Anger Solutions Resources Available Now

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Hey everyone - I'm beyond excited to announce that the CD Audio version of my book, Anger Solutions is now available! This is a 4 disc set that is a FULL - not an abridged version of the book. That means you get every chapter, word for word. Even the exercises at the end of each chapter are included. The only bit that was not included is the Appendices - that would be like reading Bible geneaology for me, and even less fun to listen to for you.

However, the final CD contains two bonus tracks - the full program entitled, "Anger Solutions: Releasing Residual Anger". These tracks include a brief overview of the Anger Solutions method for resolving anger, as well as a complete exercise to help you release residual anger and to promote a return to your baseline.

This product is too new for the web - I have not uploaded it to my store as yet. But you can still get copies right now, for the introductory price of only $29.99 (plus GST if applicable) and shipping. Call me toll free at 1-866-754-6169 to request a copy. Be sure to leave your name, mailing information and a phone number so we can confirm your order! Thanks :).

The second resource I am equally if not doubly excited about is our Anger Solutions for Kids (AS4K) Program. This resource is for Certified Anger Solutions Facilitators, Coaches, and Trainers ONLY! If you have not already invested in AS Training - at this time you may not have access to this material. The reason being is that we wanted to keep the price affordable, while maintaining program integrity. Therefore, there is no training outside of a 1 hour tutorial and the Facilitator's Guide - our Certified Facilitators, Coaches and Trainers already have all the basic training in AS philosophy and methodology so they can hit the ground running without additional investment in time or money for more training.

Anyway - now that I have openly stated the disclaimer, here is what you get with AS4K:
1. a full colour Facilitator's Guide
2. a CD Rom Master Packet with handouts, activity sheets, power point images, and take home sheets that you can print direct from your computer or photocopier. All the craft templates are also included in this file. This disc also includes a BONUS file: AS4K Outline that you can print and distribute as part of your marketing/promotion for the program
an audio CD with the "What Sound is It" Activity for the Listening Skills module
3. a tutorial on how to convert YouTube video clips into WMV files so you can insert them into Power Point (yes, I teach you how to do that, too). The tutorial also has a short list of age-appropriate movie clips (with exact titles) that you can search on YouTube to demonstrate assertive, passive, and aggressive behaviours.
4. Great packaging! Jellybean colours (choose from blue, pink, orange, or green)
5. This program is licensed. Since only AS Certified professionals will be using the program, the license is non-renewable. This means, that when you renew your annual AS license, there will be no additional renewal fee for the AS4K Program.

AS4K is now available and moving fast out of the gate. All of what you see listed here for only $279 plus GST and shipping.

Again, this resource is too new for the web store, so if you'd like a copy please call the 1866 number or email me: julie AT

Friday, August 14, 2009

Anger in Paradise: Pizza Rage

This just in from -

"When we first heard the story of Miami-Dade prosecutor David Ranck punching a pizza delivery woman, we knew he needed anger management courses.

But that's it? Apparently so. Battery charges were dropped against the attorney under the condition he completes and passes an anger management course and does 25 hours of community service. Ranck could have faced a year in jail if he was convicted on the misdemeanor.

"There is no conviction. There is no adjudication. The case is dismissed,'' Ranck's defense attorney, Simon Steckel, told the Miami Herald. " Considering the facts of the case, it's a good resolution for everybody.''

While such a deal isn't totally out of line, punching a delivery woman for being a little late with your pizza and not speaking English is.

On May 30, 54-year-old Ranck allegedly attacked Yudisceus Rodriguez de Armas for not getting him his pizza in a timely fashion. Witnesses said there was a bit of a language barrier, which further frustrated an obviously hungry Ranck, who yelled at the delivery woman before striking her in the arm and knocking off her hat.

Maybe his former prosecutor buddies felt he had been punished enough since Ranck was forced to resign from his post as a division chief in June because of the heavy media attention. (There's more to this story, but it isn't relevant).

I couldn't help but try to take a stab at this scenario from an Anger Solutions perspective: Let's begin with understanding how anger develops and then look at how the TSA Model could have avoided the above outcomes.

Anger Develops when your experience of an event does not match your expectations. So Ranck was hungry. He wanted a pizza. He did the assertive thing and called in his order.

His expectation was that the order would be delivered in a timely manner (we don't know his definition of "timely" - but lets say, according to typical pizza delivery service standards, within 45 minutes). BUT his pizza was late.

To add insult to injury, his delivery woman did not speak fluent English. His expectations were not being met, and he experienced a "frustration signal" or a burst of anger.

Knowing this, what if when Ranck got his frustration signal, rather than take his anger out on this poor woman, he chose to TSA:

What is happening? "My pizza is late - this lady doesn't speak English so it is making it hard for me to communicate my dissatisfaction to her."
What does this mean? "This is bad customer service. I'm unhappy about my perception of how I'm being treated. In the long run, this means nothing really - I am hungry, and my pizza is here. That's what matters."
How do I feel about what is happening? "I am feeling unhappy about the bad service, and frustrated because I can't communicate effectively with this woman. I'm hungry, and that is adding to my sense of agitation."
How would I like this to be resolved? "I deserve a discount or some other perk since my pizza was delivered so late. I really want to eat - gosh I'm starved!"
What can I do to resolve this situation? "Well... I have choices. I could take my frustration out on this delivery person. She is smaller than I am - I can take her. Besides, acting out my anger will feel really good in this moment, and I like the feeling of control and power that aggression gives me. My other choice is to just pay for the pizza and eat it - so I won't be so doggone hungry, and then call the pizza company and complain about their poor service."
What's the best thing that can happen if I choose to take my anger out on the delivery person? "I might get away with verbally and physically abusing this delivery person, and I'll feel really powerful in this moment."
What's the worst thing that can happen? "I could get arrested, and charged with assault. That would look pretty bad for me - might ruin my reputation. Jeez, I might even get fired!"
What's the best thing that can happen if I pay now, and complain later? "I won't be hungry anymore. I will be able to vent my frustration to someone who can help me, and I might even get a free pizza out of the deal."
What's the worst thing that can happen? "The pizza company won't care that I feel inconvenienced - and they won't give me any perks. In that case, I suppose, I'll just use a new pizza delivery company."
What will be my course of action? "I'll pay for the pizza but no tips. The fact is - she was late. I'll call the pizza company once my belly is full, and deal with the customer service issue later."

SAY: (Immediately) "You're late. Here's your money - No tip since you're late. Thanks for my pizza." (Later) "Hello, Mr. Pizza Guy - I ordered a pizza and it was really late. I couldn't communicate with your delivery person because of a language barrier, and I just found my whole experience with your company really frustrating. I'm ready to never use your service again, unless you can give me an incentive to stay a loyal customer. Convince me that you can provide better service than what I received tonight."

ASK: In this case, ask for a coupon, a discount offer, or a free calzone with the next purchase from Mr. Pizza Guy - whatever seems reasonable, given the circumstances. If Mr. Pizza Guy is not interested in helping out - decide to use ABC Pizza next time.

Had Mr. Ranck been well-versed in the Anger Solutions way, he would have achieved a much better outcome. He would have avoided the wild media attention he received, and he would have been able to maintain his employment status. This would have been just another day in the life of David Ranck, and a non-story for NBC Miami.

Want to know more about how Anger Solutions works? Contact us at

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Are Anger and Abuse the Same Thing?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInMom's estranged husband charged with murder in infant's fatal fall: Was it Anger or Abuse?
This just in from the Chicago Tribune:,0,1433871.story

An estranged husband was charged Thursday with first-degree murder for allegedly kicking his wife atop a third-floor porch during a fight, causing her to lose hold of her newborn son, who then fell over a railing to his death, authorities said.

Jason Range, 20, was arrested Wednesday by Chicago police at an office as he was picking up a certificate for taking an anger-management class, several law-enforcement sources said.

Range had been charged with criminal damage to property in an unrelated case and needed the certificate to take to a court hearing, according to court records and one of the sources.

He allegedly smashed his aunt's car with a tire iron and slashed the car tires last February, the court records show.

Range, who lives in the 8200 block of South Maryland Avenue, was charged with murder in the death Sunday of 5-week-old Jeremiah, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office. Jeremiah's mother had gone to Range's home to pick up the baby, and she and Range got into a fight inside the apartment. Range allegedly wielded a knife and then kicked his wife in the back as she was walking onto the porch, police said.

Jeremiah was being carried by his mother in a car seat -- unsecured -- when Range allegedly kicked her, police said. The baby slipped from the car seat and dropped from the third floor to the ground, they said.

Range was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in 2008 for allegedly threatening his wife with a knife and dragging her by her hair, court records show. The charge was later dropped.

This is truly a horrible story - and a sickening testament to what can happen when beliefs and choices go unchecked. The underlying question that seems to be implied in this article is – “What good was anger management for Mr. Range? He took the course, and then attacked this woman, killing her baby in the process. Surely anger management doesn’t work!”

While I have some genuine concerns about the long term effectiveness of anger management programs, I feel I need to stand up in defense of anger management and similar treatment programs. First, there seems to be a growing misconception in society that abuse is an “anger issue”, and that by teaching someone how to “manage” anger, we can in effect, reduce abusive behavior. This is not at all the case – in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Abuse is about power and control – not about anger.

Men who batter do so because it makes them feel powerful. They believe they have the right to dominate another individual or group of individuals in order to get what they need. They do it because they have LEARNED that abusive behavior gets results. Anger typically has nothing to do with it. Sure, there are people who hit, bite, scratch, punch walls, etc., when they are angry; however, these kinds of behaviours are used to demonstrate the intensity of their emotions because they have no words or no known alternative for expressing their feelings.

People who engage in abusive behaviours are fully conscious of their choices – and they choose to be abusive. They use their voices, aggressive gestures, “angry faces”, and violence as TOOLS to force the other party into submission.

This brings us back to the case here with Mr. Range. He was previously arrested and charged for vandalizing a family member’s property and ordered to undergo anger management treatment. The question is – was the vandalism an act of anger, or was it an act of abuse? The root of the word abuse is this: “ab” means to take away from… and “use” means power. It sounds to me like Mr. Range’s intentions were more than just to express an emotion he couldn’t put to words – he knew what he was doing, and likely hit his aunt where he thought it would hurt most. He took away her sense of safety and security, as well as impeding her ability to travel independently.

Range's history of abusive behavior is detailed in the above article – threatening his wife with a knife, dragging her by her hair, smashing his aunt’s vehicle with a tire iron and slashing her tires; this is more than an anger management issue. Range should have been mandated to enroll in a program for men who batter; not anger management classes.

Many people who are mandated to anger management classes only go so they can get the certificate to present to the judge; they are not personally motivated to change or improve their attitudes, beliefs, or choices. If the courts end up mistaking abuse for anger, then they are setting up everyone involved in the case for failure. The victims lose out – as did young Jeremiah and his mother. The abusive person loses out because he will continue to blame his behaviours on his anger rather than take responsibility for his choices. The courts lose out because they will inevitably see the abusive perpetrator re-offend, and the taxpayers lose out because it is their tax dollars that keep the criminal justice system in operation. Last but not least, the folks genuinely trying to help people with anger management and similar programs also lose – because stories like this do nothing but undermine the credibility of honest people trying to do honest work.

So what can be done? The answer lies in education. Lawyers and judges must pay attention to behavioural patterns and look at the intent behind the actions of those being charged. Anger management classes should not be perceived as a “cure-all” for people who engage in violent or other criminal activity. Perhaps a psychological evaluation should be mandatory for anyone charged with a violent crime or act of vandalism. Appropriate referrals must be made either to restorative justice programs, groups for men who batter, anger management or Anger Solutions programs – the key word here is “appropriate”.

It isn’t enough to say, “Prove you participated in this class, and that will be enough.” Listen – just because you learned it doesn’t mean you KNOW it. This is obviously the case with Mr. Range, who went to class and learned something, but chose not to apply it to his own situation. Instead he opted for doing what would bring him feelings of power and control – so much so that it cost his own son his life. What a horrible price to pay.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Don't Buy the Anger Lady's Books from Amazon

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedIn(Re-post)

It turns out that my first book, Top Ten Lists to Live By is a pretty popular little item on the Internet these days. On the advice of one of my book marketing gurus, I decided to run a little search on to see if my book is being re-sold anywhere on the web.

Check this out: - a re-seller has this book posted for 17.68 in British pounds. - a re-seller has Top Ten Lists posted for $35.33! - you can buy a pre-owned copy from anywhere between $18 and $20 plus shipping and handling.

Now I have to ask you, why would you want to purchase a book that is STILL in print for more than its listed retail price? And, I have to ask, how do these folks get away with it? Perhaps it is because no-one has set the record straight about what they're doing... So here I go.

There are three reasons I can think of that one might search for a book on Amazon and pay more than the suggested retail price: the book is incredibly special (e.g. the author is very famous, dead, or is no longer writing), is out of print, or is a rare item on the book market. So let's clarify:

Top Ten Lists to Live By was the first book I ever published. I suppose that makes it special, but only to me and perhaps to my mother (God rest her soul). I can't imagine that anyone else is so excited about obtaining the first published work of Julie Christiansen that they should pay more than it is actually worth (in terms of retail price). I am definitely not dead yet, and as you can see by this blog, I am still writing.

Top Ten Lists to Live By is not out of print. It is still in print and is available for purchase - autographed - directly from me, or not autographed from the publisher, who will ship it direct to the purchasor. The listed retail price of Top Ten Lists is only $14.99 CN or $9.99 USD. Anyone who has paid more for this book through Amazon should be asking for the difference in a refund.

Top Ten Lists is not a rare book. It has been a poorly marketed one. That's not the same thing. If you would like to get a copy of the book, I would encourage you to contact me directly via my website: or purchase directly from my publisher's online bookstore, Search by title or author (Julie A. Christiansen), and the title will come up right away for you. The publisher, Infinity Publishing, will process your purchase and ship your book to you within a couple of days, and you will get a brand spanking new, unspoiled copy of your very own. I don't think Amazon can beat that!

Listen - don't trust these charlattans who think they can fool you into purchasing a "rare" copy of my (or any other author's) book on Amazon. Before you buy, go to the source and see what the writer is selling them for.
Originally Posted by Julie Christiansen at 4/13/2009 7:24 PM

Friday, June 12, 2009

Musings of a Road Warrior

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInAs I sit here in the terminal at Edmonton International Airport waiting to board my flight home, I am once again struck by how easy it is to fall into a comfort zone and get stuck there. Case in point: in 1999 I was hired as a professional speaker for Pryor Resources Inc., one of the first and largest companies of its kind in the U.S.A. My typical schedule was one week on; one week off - so every second week I was headed to some new place. Several of the "runs" I went on were to places I had never been. I faced those adventures with relish and excitement - I always prepared for the unexpected - I carried a book of maps with me, then cross referenced my maps with the ones provided by the car rental companies. If I got lost, most of the time I just went with the flow and used my "common sense" to get me to my destination. I was careful, to be sure, but I never shied away from the adventure.
Fast forward to 2009 - My stint with Pryor ended when they declared bankruptcy in July of 2001. I went back to a desk job and didn't fly anywhere except for two visits to Jamaica. Speaking engagements all seemed to be close to home, or within driving distance of home, and somewhere along the way I got comfortable with my shrinking universe. I got the sense last year that as my business evolves and continues to gain momentum, that travel will once again become a regular facet of my life; although now I get to choose when, how much, and how far I will go. But I also noticed a certain sense of apprehension when I thought about travelling more again.
So here I am, June 2009, sitting at the Edmonton airport. This was my first time to Edmonton - first time out west. I only know one person who lives here - she offered to be my taxi for the week, and I almost took her up on it. But then I had flashbacks of the days when I was "on the road" and the freedom I felt as I was able to get in my rented car and drive around the city or countryside where I was - enjoying the scenery, and the quiet... having the space to stop on the side of the road if I wanted so I could take pictures... the simple pleasures of listening to whatever I felt like (music, motivational CDs, or just nothing at all)... having the option to choose the road I want to travel, rather than the one chosen for me...
Sure, it was nice to see my friend and to enjoy a nice evening out with her. But I have to say that I'm glad I didn't HAVE to depend on her. I needed to broaden my horizons again - I needed to allow myself the space to grow and experience the journey in my own way.
This expansion of my comfort zone extends not only to the experience of travel itself: I am not by nature drawn to crowds, and I am reluctant to strike up conversations with strangers. But going to a conference where you know absolutely no - one, you have to step outside of your comfort zone.
What about you? What can you do to step out of your comfort zone?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis just in - MacLean's Magazine ( - page 19, Charlie Gillis interviews Harvard psycholgist, Gene Heyman on why drug or alcohol addiction is not a disease, but a matter of choice.

Heyman's findings are not really so earth shattering as we might think at first glance. I find it interesting that he began by reviewing existing research and just looked at it from a new perspective - with fresh eyes so to speak. He says in the interview that his initial goal was to learn how drug use morphed from voluntary behaviour to involuntary, but what he found was that addicted people, "stopped using the drugs... because of family issues, or there was a choice between their children and continued drug use, or they were moving on to an environment where it was disapproved of. In other words, the kinds of things that influence all of our everyday decisions were influencing people ... to stop using."

Heyman says that behavioural disease is marked by compulsivity, meaning it is "beyond the influence of reward, punishment, expectations, cultural values, personal values." He says that the epidemiological evidence more strongly supports addictive behaviour as a choice as opposed to disease as described above.

I love what he says when asked about the billions of dollars spent annually, trying to treat the "disease" of addiction. He says, "It's possible that the reason we're not making much progress is that we're not treating decision-making directly." This is so key to all behaviour change in my mind! And this is what we talk about in Anger Solutions ( all the time... that the secret to producing lasting, radical change in people with "anger issues" lies in teaching them a better decision-making model that will help them to choose behaviours that will get them the best short and long-term outcomes regardless of who or what caused them to feel angry.

Heyman's argument lends scientific support to some of the amazing outcomes we have seen in Anger Solutions when it is applied to individuals who are struggling with anger and addictions, who after completing the program found that they no longer needed or wanted to abuse alcohol or drugs - either because they had better coping strategies and methods for expressing their anger, or because the emotional intensity had subsided to the point where they no longer felt the need to self-medicate with substances like drugs or alcohol.

I urge you to get the June 1st issue of MacLean's magazine and read this article for yourself. I believe you will find the implications in Heyman's message incredibly empowering.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comments on Anger Management and Emotional Abuse

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedIn

Here are some interesting comments from Dr. Steven Stosny about why traditional anger management programs don't work for perpetrators of emotional abuse. I have highlighted and bolded the comments that I think are spot on as it relates to Anger Solutions philosophy.

Steven Stosny, Ph.D., is the founder of CompassionPower in suburban Washington, DC. Dr. Steven Stosny's most recent books are, How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It: Finding Love Beyond Words , and Love Without Hurt: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One .You can check out his blog: Anger in the Age of Entitlement.

Emotional Abuse: Why Anger Management Didn't Work

By Steven Stosny on May 12, 2009 - 8:03pm in Anger in the Age of Entitlement

Anger management programs for emotional or verbal abusers sometimes produce short-term gains that disappear when follow-up is done a year or so later. That was probably your experience if your partner took an anger management class. If you're lucky, you may have seen a lower tone to the chronic blame - anger management classes sometimes turn a yeller into a stonewaller.

The worst kind of anger management class teaches men to "get in touch with their anger" and to "express it" or "get it out." The assumption is that emotions are like 19th century steam engines that need to "let off steam" on a regular basis. These kinds of classes include things like punching bags and using foam baseball bats to club imaginary adversaries. (Guess who would be the imaginary victim of your partner's foam-softened clubbing?) Studies have shown that this approach actually makes people angrier and more hostile, not to mention more entitled to act out their anger. Participants are training their brains to associate controlled aggression rather than compassion and reconciliation with anger.

Hopefully, your partner did not attend one of these discredited classes on anger expression. But you might not have been so lucky when it came to the second worse form of anger management: "desensitization." In that kind of class your husband would identify your behaviors that "push his buttons," things like you "nagging" him or asking too much of him. The instructor would then work to make those behaviors seem less "provocative" to him. The techniques include things like ignoring it, avoiding it, or pretending it's funny. Didn't you always dream that one day your husband would learn to be less angry by ignoring you and avoiding you or thinking that you're funny when you ask him about something serious?His feelings of inadequacy and sense of entitlement -- not specific behaviors -- trigger his anger. Even if the class succeeds in making him less sensitive to your "nagging," he will nevertheless get irritable when you tell him you love him, as that will stir his guilt and sense of inadequacy.

Desensitizing doesn't work at all on resentment, which is the precursor to most angry and abusive behavior. Resentment is not simply a reflexive response to a specific thing you say or do; it works like a defensive system in itself. That's why you don't resent just one or two or two hundred things. When you're resentful, you are constantly scanning the environment for any possible bad news, lest it sneak up on you.

Anger-management classes try to deal with this constant level of arousal with techniques to manage it, that is, to keep your husband from getting so upset that he feels compelled to act out his anger. "Don't make it worse," is the motto of most anger management classes. If he was aggressive, they taught him to withdraw. If he shut down, they taught him to be more assertive.

What they didn't teach him was how to act according to his deeper values, which would make him stop blaming his vulnerable feelings on you. If attempts to manage anger don't appeal to core values, resentful men begin to feel like they're "swallowing it," or "going along to avoid an argument." This erodes their self-esteem and justifies, in their minds, occasional blow ups: "I am sick and tired of putting up with your crap!" Then they can feel self-righteous: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

In a love relationship, managing anger is not the point. You need to promote compassion, which is the only reliable prevention of resentment, anger, and abuse.

MY COMMENTS: I have to agree with most of this article - although in Anger Solutions we do use techniques identified above like pillow punching, these techniques are not used to replace effective expression of anger, but to help release residual anger after the participants have completed all the other more valuable steps of challenging their beliefs, identifying their emotional state, using the TSA model to express anger, and seeking resolution.

We also make sure that people understand the context in which releasing residual anger is appropriate - where, why, and how we should do it. I agree that without effective controls in place when teaching this component, participants could take it wrong and believe that they can re-direct their feelings of aggression into inanimate objects while holding on to the negative feelings of anger or resentment.

Aside from this singular point of clarification, I think Dr. Stosny is right on - anger management is just a band aid - one that may actually make the wound that it was trying to heal worse.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

If you’re still not sure we need Anger Solutions in sport, read this…

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedIn(as reported by the Toronto Star – May 5, 2009)

High school player accused of manslaughter swore at referee who called penalty, court hears
May 05, 2009 04:30 AM
A Mississauga high school rugby player drove an opponent into the ground with a "spear tackle," a witness testified yesterday at the teen's manslaughter trial in Brampton.

Craig Inward, a parent watching the fatal game, said the Erindale Secondary School player went berserk after being called for an infraction against 15-year-old Manny Castillo.

The accused "was stamping his feet and swearing and berating the referee" before it became apparent Manny had been badly hurt in the game at Lorne Park on May 7, 2007. He went into convulsions and died a few days later in hospital.

The Erindale player, now 18, whose name is protected by law, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in his non-jury trial before Justice Bruce Duncan.

It would be manslaughter if the two agreed to fight on the street and Manny was "slammed" to the ground and died, prosecutor John Raftery said in his opening.

"There is nothing magical because it happened on a rugby pitch."
Inward said there appeared to be no reason for the scuffle after the ball came out of a scrum 20 to 30 metres away. The Erindale player's conduct stood out even before the tragic incident, Inward said.

"He was fairly aggressive," Inward said. "He was playing contrary to the laws of the game."
Inward admitted under cross-examination by defence lawyer Calvin Barry that he missed most of the game, but said he had a "clear and unobstructed view" of the confrontation.

Inward, also a rugby coach, was at the park to watch his children in other games. He said players are allowed to tackle or make contact only with players who have the ball or are going after it. "It's not acceptable to tackle somebody who doesn't have the ball."

His attention was drawn to two players from opposing teams near the end of the game. Inward said he saw the Erindale player pick up Manny and throw him over his back. The Erindale player then "drove him into the ground," Inward testified.

When the referee blew his whistle to call a penalty, Inward said, the Erindale player went berserk. "Usually, you take your punishment and move on quietly, but his was strange behaviour," he testified. "He was screaming and swearing. He exploded."

Another Crown witness, Lorne Park player Andrew Forth, agreed with Barry that the accused said something like, "You had me in a headlock," after Manny was "picked up by his waist" and thrown to the ground.

"He (Manny) was dump tackled, but that usually only happens when you have the ball, and he didn't," Forth said. When Manny landed on his back, his head "snapped" back, Forth said. It soon became apparent he was injured.

"He was on his back ... He was gurgling and making unearthly sounds," Inward said. "He was in convulsions and there was foam coming from his mouth ..."
There is more to this story - check it out at the Toronto Star website. Here are my thoughts...

From all reports that I have read of this incident, it sounds as if the accused had recurring behavioural problems and did not have the skills necessary to manage his aggression or to effectively release his anger. It would appear that he believed that his behavior was justified as is described by the “in your face” gesture he made towards Manny after the attack, as well as his response to the referee awarding him a penalty for his behavior.

I wonder where was the coach in this? Was he encouraging his players to be aggressive, play hard – don’t let the other team intimidate? Was he counting on the players to know what that meant (play the game with more passion – stay focused – stick to the plays - don’t back down when they try to intimidate you… as opposed to “get out there and beat the snot out of them”)? I’m not making an accusation, I’m just curious.

What it comes down to is that the accused made a decision based on how he was feeling at the time. He was angry. He was frustrated. He wanted satisfaction. He wanted immediate release for all that negative energy. He chose to do something that will (if he has a conscience) probably haunt him for the rest of his life – probably not the outcome he was hoping for.

What if athletes could learn how to manage their emotions even in the height of an intense game? What if they could maintain their focus and keep a positive outlook even when the game isn’t going their way? What if they could – at the peak of passion – make clear choices based on the outcomes they want rather than a short-term feeling of satisfaction?

What if your teenager could just play without the risk of going to jail or ending up dead on the field, court, or ice?

What if that were possible by introducing the principles of Anger Solutions into the mental conditioning of athletes? Would the outcomes be worth it? Something for us to think about - and then take action on.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Anger Solutions for Smokers

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis interesting article was posted on April 26th in news outlets across the world: Here is the Irish version.

Anger management may help smokers
[Posted: Sun 26/04/2009 by Olivia Fens]
Anger management classes may help smokers to quit, a new study has indicated.Researchers from the University of California looked at the reactions of people playing a computer game – once while wearing a nicotine patch and once while wearing a placebo (fake) patch.The study found that when the participants were not wearing a nicotine patch, they were more likely to react angrily.The researchers believe this is because nicotine affects the part of the brain that controls emotion.“Moreover, the findings suggest that nicotine may critically regulate brain areas that are involved in the inhibition of negative emotions such as anger,” the researchers said.“Behavioural treatments, such as anger management training, may aid smoking cessation efforts in anger provoking situations that increase withdrawal and tobacco cravings,” they concluded. The study was published in the Behavioural and Brain Functions journal.
If you are a follower of this blog, you already know what my stand is on anger management. Do you want your anger managed or do you want the problems that evoke your anger SOLVED? Anger Solutions practitioners everywhere may want to consider incorporating smoking cessation as one of the benefits of participating in our program. We already know that CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is documented as the best option for providing traditional anger management "therapy", with a success rate of approximately 67%. We also know that anger management programs use all sorts of models, and many of these approaches are not studied or documented or regulated. So we have no idea if they work at all.

Anger Solutions on the other hand, has a documented success rate of over 80% in group and 100% in one-on-one coaching. The use of the program is closely monitored throughout our network, so we can ensure consistency in approach and in methodology. Anger Solutions tackles the underlying causes for poor choices (beliefs) and in challenging those beliefs, it opens up opportunities for participants to choose better outcomes. We do not take a cookie cutter approach to clients - we flex the program to suit the client's needs.

How does this all apply to smoking cessation? We might start with the underlying belief that "smoking calms me down". Challenging this belief is the first step. Closely followed is challenging the belief that "I can't quit". How about the belief that "If I quit smoking I'll get fat." We would use the pleasure/pain principle to balance out these patterns of thinking and then replace the limiting beliefs with empowering ones and leverage the participant into new behavioural choices that create more positive outcomes (i.e. smoke-free living, more money to spend on other things). And - to top it off, the participant walks away with a solid decision making model so that when the cravings crop up because of anger or any other trigger, s/he knows how to process each experience and choose the right response.

Curious to know how Anger Solutions can assist in your smoking cessation? Visit our website at
Julie Christiansen
Anger Specialist and Master Anger Solutions Trainer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Anger Management for Sean Avery?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis just in from the blog: Playoff Observations -- Wednesday
· By:
Janet Eagleson
· On: 4/22/2009 8:15:00 PM

You can read all her comments at:
Here's what Janet has to say about Sean Avery's recent shenanigans on the ice:
How long was Sean Avery's anger management course? Twelve weeks? No wonder it didn't work. Behaviour change takes a minimum of 13.
Now, you know I couldn't read that without commenting! First things first - who says "behaviour change takes at least 13 weeks?" Does it really? And is that 13 weeks of intensive daily therapy, or 4 hours per week, or 1 hour per week? Is TIME the only deciding factor in an individual's ability to change? Sorry... this argument doesn't hold water with Anger Solutions, nor would I expect that most anger management professionals would think this to be true either.

While time most definitely is a factor to consider when we're talking about creating lasting change, there are other, more important variables that play a role - for example:
  • Attitude - motivation and willingness to change are key! Sean Avery could go to anger management for the rest of his life, but if he is not motivated or willing to change his behaviour - chances are he will stay the same.
  • The nature of the programming - did Sean Avery enroll in a class that challenged the beliefs that underly his behaviours, or did it simply give him alternative choices without helping him achieve greater awareness of why he feels his current behaviour is acceptable? It is one thing to "tell" a person that what they are doing is wrong - it is another thing altogether for them to "believe" that their choices are harmful to themselves and others.
  • Responsibility and accountability - was the program that Avery attended all about "doing whatever the GM says so I can play hockey again" or was it about "I need to change my behaviour because my current patterns keep getting me into trouble"? Did Avery learn anything about taking responsibility for his actions? Did he come to realize that he must stand accountable for the choices that he makes? Does he know now that he is 100% responsible for the outcomes that he creates in his life? Apparently not - if his on-ice antics are a reflection of his programming. However, in all fairness to the people who administered his anger management classes, I refer back to my first point. If Avery has no intention of changing, no amount of programming will serve him well over the long term.

So this brings me back to the first point brought up by Janet Eagleson - it takes 13 weeks to change behaviour... this comment is unfounded and unsupported by any research that I have seen. Now, I have long argued that the traditional 6-weeks of anger management that is mandated by the courts for offenders is a bogus number, as there is no evidence to support 6 weeks being the ideal amount of time for programming either. That said, our Anger Solutions programs have run successfully in as short a period as 6 weeks, and as long as up to 15 weeks. Our Facilitators and Trainers experience unparalleled success regardless of the time factor - and we can chalk this up to the flexibility, the multi-pronged approach, and the focus of our programs. You see, we are not just about behaviour change - we are about lifestyle change. We start at the core and deal with what's there (beliefs and choices) and as those come into alignment, behaviour change is a positive byproduct for our participants.

Am I saying that Anger Solutions could succeed with Sean Avery where anger management has apparently failed? Maybe - maybe not. If Avery genuinely wanted to effect positive lasting change in his life, I have no doubt that Anger Solutions would prove successful for him. The facts are these - Anger Solutions has experienced a success rate of over 80% consistently over 12+ years - the best anger management can boast is 70% success. At the very least, we might have a 10% chance of doing better with Avery - but again, it comes down to whether or not he wants to change. His post-season behaviour thus far seems to indicate that he is perfectly happy being the "bad boy of hockey" - so we'll just have to let the chips fall where they may.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grumpy is Good! Winning Over Difficult People

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Let’s face it – if you’re not somebody’s difficult person today, you will be tomorrow. We all take turns being difficult for other people, just as they can be difficult for us. The difficulty comes from differences in personality, communication styles, personal preferences, and our expectations of how things “should” be. Here are some practical and simple customer service techniques to de-escalate and win over the difficult people in your life.

The first technique is helping others to calm down by monitor and managing your tone of voice. Speaking in a calm tone of voice, smiling and keeping your face relaxed, and maintaining eye contact are always to keep your difficult person from become more escalated emotionally.

Secondly, demonstrate you are listening with your non-verbal behaviours. If someone is venting his/her anger at you, attempt to show empathy. The key to this is to WAIT until the person has finished venting. When you interrupt the venting, the person will feel as though you are not listening, even if you have an answer for his/her problem.

Once s/he is finished venting, focus ONLY on the stated problem. Clarify what the problem is and what solutions s/he would like, if any. You can show empathy by saying, “I can see why you’re upset – I would be upset too…” This is also a good time to set boundaries around how you would like to be spoken to in future. For example, “I see why you’re upset – I would be upset too. In fact, you’re handling this pretty well. (This will encourage the person to begin calming down). In future though, I would really appreciate if you would approach me like… (State your expectations)”.

Next, provide helpful information/direction towards the answer. Respond with wording such as, “Let’s work together to come up with a solution for your problem. Or, “I understand what you want and why – let’s get working on it right away.”

Finally, if you don’t have the answers, refer the person to someone who does. Better still, go together – this shows that you are caring and supportive, and are willing to work with the individual to see his or her problem solved.

By demonstrating your listening skills as well as your willingness to show support even when your difficult person is in the throes of being difficult, you will win that individual’s loyalty and respect. That is the kind of service that causes customers to walk away thinking, “Wow – that was a really great experience!”

Remember, it takes two to tango, and it takes at least two to fight. If you maintain a calm and supportive stance, your difficult person will have to come down to your level – there’s no place else to go!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

10 Years after Columbine: The Safe Schools Debate Rages On

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This just in from the Wall Street Journal - My comments are first; the article will follow. It is interesting to note that as funding has declined, school administrators appear to be losing interest in maintaining safety measures, indicating that the buy-in to providing a safe school environment is solely contingent on having a large budget. Despite this prevailing mentality (both in the US and Canada), it is encouraging to see some school administrators making the effort to find creative and inexpensive solutions for their schools.

Here in Canada most departments of education promote some type of safe schools policy; however, the actual enforcement and effectiveness of these policies is questionable. For at least two years I have made an attempt to liaise with some of the school boards that are experiencing a high incidence of violence in their schools without success - even though my program, Anger Solutions(TM) is evidence-based and has been proven to be both inexpensive to run, and incredibly effective. Needless to say, it is a difficult process to introduce a new program into the educational system, but definitely a worthwhile cause. Schools in India have begun the process of introducing anger management programs into their curriculum, as have some schools in the UK. While it is still too early to know the effect of this strategy, I am confident that these schools will see a decrease in playground and classroom violence over time.

In order for our schools on both sides of the border to remain safe, there must be commitment to change from the top levels down to the students. Taking simple steps like securing a building, running drills, and teaching students effective anger resolution skills can, in my opinion, turn things around.

The Safety Lessons of Columbine, Re-Examined
Ten Years After the High School Shooting, Funding for Campus Security Fades, but Simpler, Low-Cost Measures Gain Favor

The carnage at Columbine High on April 20, 1999, prompted a swift and aggressive response around the U.S.

Hundreds of millions of dollars flooded into schools after two seniors stalked the halls of Columbine in trench coats, killing 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide in the school library.

The money -- federal, state and local -- bought metal detectors, security cameras and elaborate emergency-response plans. It put 6,300 police officers on campuses and trained students to handle bullying and manage anger.

Ten years later, the money is drying up. The primary pot of federal grants has been cut by a third, a loss of $145 million. The Justice Department has scrapped the cops in schools program, once budgeted at $180 million a year. States are slashing spending, too, or allowing districts to buy textbooks with funds once set aside for security measures.

Money is so tight that the Colorado district that includes Columbine High, which reopened four months after the shootings, has canceled its annual violence-prevention convention. Miami can afford to send just half as many students as it used to through anger-management training. Many educators and security consultants find the cutbacks frightening.

But others wonder whether progress is being measured by the wrong yardstick. Even as they clamor for more money, an alarming number of schools admit to ignoring inexpensive, common-sense safeguards. Federal funding for school crisis planning has been cut by 25% in recent years, a loss of nearly $10 million. But what good is a pricey plan, some officials ask, when close to 40% of administrators admit they aren't adequately training their own staff on emergency procedures?

Some anti-bullying and conflict-resolution workshops are based on solid research. But as those programs fall victim to funding shortfalls, some educators are asking whether they might be able to take up the slack not by spending more money, but by reforming school culture to nurture closer bonds between students and adults.

"A lot of stuff costs money, but I'm getting a little tired of that excuse," said John Weicker, security director for the public schools in Fort Wayne, Ind. "If everyone swept their own doorstep -- took care of what they need to take care of -- we'd get an awful lot done."
The federal government has actually boosted spending on what might be considered the "softer" components of safe schools. Grants for mental health and counseling, for instance, have soared from $20 million the year after Columbine to nearly $58 million today. That doesn't begin to make up for the cuts in other school-safety programs, officials say. But they say they are spending smarter.

"A lot of what we learned coming out of Columbine didn't [require] large sums of money," said William Modzeleski, who runs the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. "School safety is more than cameras, metal detectors and police officers."
Some point out that the money poured into security after Columbine didn't prevent the murders at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., at Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minn., and at West Nickel Mines Amish School in Lancaster County, Pa., among others.

But some officials say such incidents could be reduced by stoking awareness and ratcheting down the everyday brawls and taunts that disrupt education at some schools. In a recent survey of 445 educators conducted by the American Association of School Administrators, nearly 80% of respondents called school-safety funds "stretched" or "inadequate." Yet many also said they left quick, inexpensive fixes undone. More than 15% reported that their school entrances are neither locked nor monitored. A third confessed to propping open doors, giving intruders easy access. One in five didn't equip recess and field-trip monitors with walkie-talkies to report suspicious sightings or brewing conflicts.

And 29% either had no safety committee or indicated doubts about its effectiveness. Such committees are intended to bring together parents, teachers and local law enforcement at regular intervals.

"Many, many districts still have the Mayberry mentality -- we're nice and quiet" and it won't happen here, said Paul Timm, president of consulting firm RETA Security.

Schools hold regular fire drills because they are mandated by law. They work; no student has died in a school fire for decades. But Mr. Timm says far too few schools hold lock-down drills, or run tabletop simulations of a crisis with police and paramedics.

There's More! Read the whole article at

What do you think? Do you believe that schools need to introduce anger resolution methods into their curriculum? Share your thoughts here using the comments section. Please note that all comments will be moderated and unacceptable content will not be posted.