7 survival signs that can save your life

(photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu)

(photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

In the Bible, Adam dominated all the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts of the earth by taking this first crucial step.

He gave them their names.

I have discovered the same thing with martial arts. I learn more quickly if I know the exact terms to use when executing a movement or technique. And even in the psychological realm of self-defense, it’s the same.

Most people can sniff danger instinctively in any situation involving human interaction. A fleeting expression of the face, certain movements, a combination of words… they can mean trouble depending on the context.

Here are 7 survival signs that I’ve learned from Gavin De Becker, an expert on violence and security. Knowing the names of these 7 survival signs may be useful particularly for women and children.

1. Forced Teaming

This is primarily a way to establish premature trust. When a stranger or a new acquaintance says, “We’re in trouble,” “How are we going to solve this?,” “I’m sure you’ll do the same thing for me,” when there is really no shared purpose or experience, it can mean only one thing: That person wants something else from you.

So we should be wary of strangers saying “we” far too often. Rebuffing the stranger may appear rude. But in this case, it’s the right thing to do.

2. Charm and Niceness

We all like charming and nice people. But people who charm you and act nice to you are not necessarily charming and nice. Even serial killers are “charming and nice.” The message is simply this: inherent characteristics such as charming and nice emanate from within and not from explicit acts of the person.

Therefore, we should be wary of charming acts and nice gestures especially from strangers. It’s one way for somebody to quickly build rapport and get their evil way in the end.

3. Too Many Details

Most people who try to deceive others simply give away too many details. It’s similar to kids lying about their whereabouts to parents. They say they are at their friend’s house because they have to do a project, and that they have solicited the help of a friend’s brother, and that the teacher expects them to submit an excellent project because they had low test scores in the quizzes, and, not to mention their other classmates are doing the same.

Too many details. It’s as if they’re trying to convince themselves.

A person with evil motives will do the same thing. He tries to make small talk and tell you details about a sick cat, problems with the plumber, busted cellphone, etc. The person is a stranger. That’s the only detail that matters in this context.

4. Typecasting

Watch out for strangers who, in an effort to make small talk and build rapport, tell you that “you appear to be too snobbish” or “you don’t seem to be the independent type.”

He’s trying to bruise your ego with little insults, which you can readily refute by, guess what, acting the way he wants you to act. He is manipulating you. The best way to react is to simply stay silent.

5. Loan Sharking

A stranger offering help without you asking may simply be a kindly person. But watch out for other signals. Someone with evil intent expects something greater in return.

Motive should always be on one’s mind. If you are hesitant about letting a stranger help you with your heavy bags, you can always say no politely.

6. Unsolicited Promise

If, for example, a stranger says, “I promise,” when you appear to be doubtful, he is simply trying to convince you of something. A promise is no guarantee.

Filipinos may not be fond of saying, “I promise,” but words that indicate an unsolicited promise to do something, or words that unduly compel you to give in may indicate evil motives.

A rapist tells his victim, “I promise, I will let you go. I just need to wash up.” That’s scary, and that’s not going to happen.

7. Ignoring the Word “No”

When a stranger ignores your “No,” it is a means to control. You know the feeling. It’s as if the person is imposing something on you, and it irritates you.

If a person doesn’t seem to understand the word “No,” just think that he is trying to control you and that he has motives that you can only guess.

One thing that struck me when I learned about these survival signals long ago is that they are often used by people we know… our loved ones, friends, bosses, colleagues. But they don’t usually have evil motives.

Two important things here: context and intuition. My examples illustrate a certain context. But along with context, intuition plays a key role. It always tells us something. It may just be a trivial thing, but it can also be a matter of life and death.



4 Responses to “7 survival signs that can save your life”

  1. This was a great article! I plan to share it with my kids…I would love to see this information in a form for children to understand; they, most of all, have a difficult time understanding that “bad” people can be “nice.” Would you be OK if I translated this into kid-speak for my blog? With full credit, of course! 🙂 Thanks again!

    • gohelpyourself Says:

      I would love to see my post rewritten for children. 🙂 Yes, it’s perfectly okay with me. Feel free to use any information you find useful. I suggest that you add sample dialogues, too. Children would understand it better that way.

  2. Awesome! I will be working on this…thank you!

  3. […] 16, 2009 · Leave a Comment After reading this fantastic article about awareness in survival situations. The article was written for adults, but I felt like it […]

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