Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Spot a Con Artist: Part 2

In the last post, I began describing some of the strategies that con artists and social manipulators use to control victims.  These behaviors are described in detail in Gavin De Becker's book, The Gift of Fear.  I read this book many years ago and have recommended it to women ever since.  In this post, I describe two more techniques used by social manipulators.

Charming Stranger

De Becker has little good to say about charm.  He believes that charm is "almost always a directed instrument, which, like rapport building, has motive.  To charm is to compel, to control by allure or attraction."  Charming people do not all necessarily have sinister motives, but because it is a strategy used by con artists and social manipulators, it is prudent to be aware of it.  De Becker particularly warns women to rebuff unwanted approaches. He specifically makes the point that women are expected to respond to any and all communications from men (and those who are not willing and compliant are viewed as being cold and uncooperative).  He's mostly talking about strangers, but it's worth considering in a work situation when someone is being overly insistent. 

Details, Details

Another trick that people use to try to deceive others is a simple technique, which De Becker describes as "too many details".  You've probably encountered this with students or others who were trying to convince you of something.  When someone is speaking the truth, they don't feel the need to elaborate, because they know what they've said is verifiable.  The liar, on the other hand, may sound credible to you, but not to himself.  Consequently, he keeps on talking, adding more and more details to his story.  I've experienced this a number of times with certain people.  If I just stare at them, without comment, their detailing gets more and more elaborate.  The situations De Becker describes involve women being accosted by male strangers who throw so many details and information at them, they become confused and overwhelmed.  Which is the intended outcome, of course.  The defense is to simply be aware of the situation and to ask yourself why this person is offering so much information.

In the next post, I will finish up with the list of strategies used by social manipulators.

Image: Ted Bundy,

No comments: