Avoiding Traps

Negotiating one’s way through society can be confusing and full of traps. It can be detrimental to one’s mental health to ‘trust no one’, but even worse to trust the wrong person or people. How do we navigate this interpersonal landscape? I’ve been reading what some experts have said and have found some strong insight.

After watching Janine Driver’s TEDtalk, I realized that she had information I needed to know about communication.

In You Can’t Lie to Me, Janine Driver notes:

  • Vocal tone rises when we’re angry or excited. You might see this in liars who are trying to convince you of something.
  • Vocal tone lowers with sadness and shame.  When a person’s voice gets lower, pay close attention.
  • Sometimes it’s the squishiness of the language itself that’s the tip-off.
  • You’ll see start-stop sentences when a person realizes he’s about to tell you something he doesn’t want to tell you.
  • When it comes to the word never we should all be instantly suspicious.
  • Inappropriate anger is a telltale sign of the convince-not-conveyer.  Often when a liar is backed into a corner, he becomes like a cornered animal that lashes out.

After reading the Gift of Fear, Gavin DeBecker’s insight on violent people made me want to ready anything he wrote. DeBecker explains signals which predators use to persuade their targets.

  • Forced Teaming
  • Charm and Niceness
  • Too Many Details
  • Typecasting
  • Loan-sharking
  • The Unsolicited Promise
  • Discounting the Word No

He also points out that:

  • Charms is almost always a directed instrument, which like rapport building, has motive.
  • Promises are used to convince us of an intention, but they are not guarantees.

In  Protecting the Gift, Gavin DeBecker discusses threats posed to children.  Much of what he says about family violence applies to adults:

  • Is worry an intuitive signal?  In a roundabout way, it can be.  That’s because what we choose to worry about, however bad, is usually easier to look at than some other less palatable issue. For this reason, a good exercise when worrying is to ask yourself, What am I choosing not to see right now?
  • Anyone who chooses not to hear the word No is trying to control you.
  • The human being is the only prey in nature that cooperates with its own victimization.
  • Men who cannot let go choose women who cannot say no.
  • Abusers use their victims to change how they feel, and victims come to rely on abusers to deliver relief from the waiting.

So what does one do with all of this information? It can be a lot to take in. Instead of increasing one’s fear, an emotion which motives one to turn away, this knowledge keys us in on things which should catch our attention.  It does not help us to turn our back to danger, dangerous people, places and things require our focus and attention.  Looking our for traps is a first step in avoiding them.


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