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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Anger Proves to be a Time Waster

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This just in By Radhika Sagar, Staff Writer for

Published: April 11, 2009, 22:54
You feel the heat crawl up your face, your voice automatically rises a few decibels and before you know it, you are an entirely different person. When anger arrives, it leaves no room for anything else. Especially at the workplace, the emotion is a dangerous thing to possess. Today, with Gulf News Wipe Out Waste (WoW) campaign, explore the damage caused by wasted emotions. Discover how you can channel your emotions into more productive outlets.

Assuming a person stays angry for even five minutes every day, he or she loses out on 109,500 seconds of happiness in a year!

According to the British Association of Anger Management, an average Joe is stressed and angry from dawn to dusk. How many seconds of peace of mind would that cost? Well, that is best left unanswered!
Some of the everyday energy drainers include:

Office rage
45 percent staff regularly loses their temper at work. This undoubtedly leads us to other forms of office rage whereby people get annoyed with as little as their co-workers clutter or even taking stationery from their desk and not returning it! The research further shows that 60 per cent employees are dissatisfied by volume of work, level of pay and lack of praise. A soaring 50 per cent workers dislike talking loudly in the office and get easily irritated by people who gossip and spread rumours.
PC rage
50 per cent of office workers react to problems with their computer by either abusing colleagues, hitting the computer, screaming, shouting or hurling parts of the PC.But this doesn't seem enough and a further 62 percent swear or scream at their computer. A staggering 53 per cent of network managers say PC problems trigger violence from users.
Road Rage
For a change, only 1 in 140 drivers feel like doing nothing to their car or while driving when faced with anger or stress behind the wheel. But realistically 90 per cent of drivers have experienced road rage in the form of rash driving, swearing, headlight flashing and deliberate obstruction. On a lighter note, 22 per cent make angry expressions and 15 per cent mutter under their breath.
Shopping rage
Out of the 18.6 billion hours that people spend in shopping in Britain, 3 billion hours are only wasted in queuing up. This inevitably gives rise to a number of complaints for poor service and also people admitting that shopping has become stressful as it triggers arguments with their partners. No prize for guessing that, 50 per cent of shoppers become angry at being unable to park.
Classroom rage
Due to the deteriorating manners of youngsters, teachers are faced with abusive language and threats of violence on a daily basis and a shocking 40 per cent of teachers have faced some physical abuse in their career.
Phone rage
Alexander Graham Bell wouldn't be happy to know that 65 per cent of people are more likely to express anger over the phone compared to 26 per cent in writing and 9 per cent face to face.
Off the Hook
The most useful technology of all times, 'the internet' seems to be another common reason for getting irritated. About 71 per cent of users get frustrated searching the net and 12 minutes is all it takes to trigger the rage! With such levels of irritation in every household, it doesn't come as a surprise that every 1 in 3 people do not meet or speak to their neighbours. Moreover it seems to be taking a toll on working parents, as 87 per cent admit to shouting at their children due to stress.
Although anger might sometimes seem inevitable, it is necessary to have a control over your emotions. The main reason for it being the tremendous harm caused to our health. The daily rush hour driving itself causes increased anxieties. An alarming 72 per cent of office workers drink too much coffee to cope, which leads to hyperactivity and increased blood pressure.
Stress has become so common that its existence is bigger than common cold! The effects of these stresses include low energy, feeling irritated, food allergies, skin rash, difficulty sleeping, head or neck aches and anxiety attacks.
As per the American Medical Journal, 10 minutes of laughter drops blood pressure by 10 to 20 millimetres. So, say goodbye to anger and use that time to laugh.
With inputs from Mohammad Jihad, Community Web Editor



Let's go back to the beginning of this article: "Assuming a person stays angry for even five minutes every day, he or she loses out on 109,500 seconds of happiness in a year!" Have you ever thought about your anger this way? To be honest, I haven't. But think about it... how much time do you spend feeling angry in a day? How much energy do you expend thinking about your anger and how you'd like to "deal with" the people or situations that incite your anger? Do you find youself wishing that you could just make it go away?

What if I told you that you can? Well - you can. But first, you must understand how anger develops.

Anger crops up when our perceived experiences do not match our expectations for the events that occur in our lives. For example: take shopping rage. You run into Walmart to grab three things. You know exactly where they are in the store. You know the make and model of each item. You have factored in the time it will take to get through the store, pick up your stuff, and cash out, and you're on a tight schedule.

But lo and behold, when you get into the store, they have moved all the departments around. It takes longer than you thought to find what you wanted. Item number three on your list isn't available in the colour and the brand that you wanted. You need to find a store clerk to help you find what you want. The clerk doesn't appear to be entirely interested in helping you. Finally you find it and you head to the cash lines, which are all full. You go to the Express Check-out since you only have 3 items, but the girl at the cash is in training, and she doesn't know how to ring items through. So - although you are in the 'fast lane' it is moving slower than ice cold molasses. Your expectations are not being met, and you can feel your frustration beginning to reach boiling point. The final straw comes when you are the next person to cash out, and the girl in training looks at you sheepishly and says, "I'm sorry sir, after this customer I have to go on break."

Can you feel it? Can you feel the frustration even as you're reading this scenario? Yeah, baby... that is how anger builds.

The key to resolving and diffusing anger lies in the stages of this scenario, and begins with the point at which you first set your expectations. What if you talked differently to yourself - gave yourself different messages? What if you decided to give yourself more time, to give the girl-in-training a break, or to just occupy yourself while you were in line so you didn't have to focus on the long lineups? Changing your perceptions and modifying your expectations is just one of the key steps to resolving one's anger.

If you'd like to know more about the Anger Solutions model of anger resolution, visit