What is The Gift of Fear about?
Gavin de Becker, a security specialist based in Los Angeles and the founder of Gavin de Becker and Associates a private security firm whose clients includes Hollywood stars and government agencies, has written a book exploring how fear is a gift that can be used to keep us safe. The book explains how we can spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late.
Gavin de Becker’s intention in writing the book was to share factors his company considers when identifying and predicting violent people and their behaviors in simple to understand terms. He achieves this by including powerful real life stories that left me chilled knowing these examples actually occurred.
I am highlighting some of the major lessons I learned from this book:
He provides potential warning signs to watch for when confronted by a stranger or manipulative person. He calls these survival signals:
- Forced Teaming. Shown through the use of the word “we” a person tries to pretend he has something in common with you and that you are both in the same predicament when it isn’t really true.
- Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate them. Niceness does not equal goodness.
- Too many details. When people lie, even if what they say sounds credible, it doesn’t sound credible to them, so they keep talking.
- Typecasting. Always involves a slight insult and usually one that is easy to refute. For example: “You are probably too snobbish to talk to the likes of me.”
- Loan Sharking. Offers assistance, but is always calculating the debt. The fact that you owe a person something makes it harder to ask them to leave you alone.
- The Unsolicited Promise. This is one of the most reliable signals. It shows nothing more than the speaker’s desire to convince you of something. Ask yourself why does this person need to convince me? For example” “I’ll just put this stuff down and go. I promise.”
- Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept the word no.
“No” is a word that must never be negotiated and was the most important lesson I took from this book. The person who chooses not to hear the word “no” is trying to control you. Don’t trust them. If you let someone talk you out of the word “no” you might as well wear a sign that reads, “You are in charge.” (Pg. 62)
A woman alone who needs assistance is actually far better off choosing someone and asking for help, as opposed to waiting for an unsolicited approach. The person you choose is nowhere near as likely to bring you hazard as the person who chooses you. (Pg. 63)
Never show fear:
Threats are never spoken from a position of power. Whatever power they have is derived from the fear instilled in the victim, for fear is the currency of the threatener. (Pg. 109)
Persistence only proves persistence:
It does not prove love. The fact that a romantic pursuer is relentless doesn’t mean you are special – it means he is troubled. (Pg. 196)
Women should never explain why they don’t want a relationship:
Mr. Wrong will challenge each reason she offers. Instead women should make it clear they have thought it over, that this is the decision and that they expect the man to respect it. (Pg. 199)
The problem with restraining orders:
Many batterers find intolerable the idea of being under the control of their victims, and with a court order, a woman seeks to control her husband’s conduct, thus turning the tables of their relationship. (Pg. 189)
Worry is the fear we manufacture – it is not authentic. (Pg. 286)
Anxiety, unlike real fear, is always caused by uncertainty. (Pg. 291)
The Gift of Fear may be the best self-help book I’ve ever read and is most likely going to be one of the most important reads of my strength challenge. It includes much more than the items I’ve highlighted above i.e. listening to and trusting your intuition. One thing I know for sure, I will never look at a person who challenges my “no” the same way ever again.
Have you read The Gift of Fear? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any future books or topics suggestions for my "BE Strong" Reading Challenge?
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