Newsletter 02 – Don’t Bug Me!

Why we tend to face criminals with our minds switched off!

When I describe some of the ways criminals get close enough to attack their chosen victims, people usually give me incredulous looks. “You mean such tricks work? Are people THAT stupid?”

No, people are not stupid.

But in this day and age, we are continually bombarded by a flood of messages, interrupting us in our thinking and life. In America people can receive an average of 3000 sales pitches a day. I don’t think we are that far off from that number here in Singapore! We find it hard to keep up with all that gets thrown at us, so we start trying to shut them all out. That’s the problem.

Let me bring this a little closer to home, with the example of insurance agents in Singapore. If you take public transport (like I do), chances are that you would have been approached countless times by insurance agents trying to sell you policies.

(I am not picking on insurance agents, I’m just using this as an example of how we react to the constant interruptions we face everyday.)

Insurance agents soon found that they couldn’t get people to buy insurance policies on the spot, so they would try to get people’s contact info and arrange for a follow-up meeting later on to do a proper sales pitch. And when people didn’t want to give out their contact info to strangers, the agents started coming up with increasingly devious ways to get them.

You see, any serious salesman (or woman) would have been taught some sales processes. As long as they could get you to begin the sales process (for example, by starting a conversation), by the time you get to the last step you are under IMMENSE psychological pressure to buy their products, whatever the products may be. Sometimes people buy, and at other times people refuse to buy because they resent being put under this kind of pressure.

After you have gone through this kind of pressure a few times, you start refusing to give your contact info to agents. Many people are like that. So the agents started coming up with other ways to start the sales process. They would use mock surveys, flipcharts with some graphs and saying something like “Have you seen this before?” Or they’ll ask questions like “are you Singaporean?” or “are you studying or working?” (flattering people by implying that they look young enough to be mistaken for tertiary students).

This is like the spam that currently floods our email inboxes. – The spammers realize that almost everybody doesn’t want what they are selling, or will never buy it from them, so they come up will all kinds of crazy ideas to trick our email filters and get us to open the emails they send us. Do they expect us to suddenly be consumed with a raging desire for Viagra, a fake Rolex or a chance to partner with some “bank official” from Nigeria once we open the email?

The most deceptive one I’ve encountered so far – The agent approaches me to help with a shopping survey (?!??!?), and she looks increasingly distressed as she realizes that my answers about my monastic-type lifestyle don’t allow her to lead the conversation over to the savings plan she wanted to sell me. Sorry, but I don’t like people who lie to me. Why should I give them ANY of my business?

As you can see, they are trying anything to just get people to start a conversation, so the agent can direct it where he or she wishes.

What’s the end result? People start going to extremes to avoid those agents, or anyone who approaches them. Anyone standing with a file at an MRT station, looking dressed up and making eye contact with people passing by was studiously avoided. We walk away from them, ignore them (rudely) and basically treat them as nuisances to be avoided at all costs. Now this is not only towards insurance agents. We also end up avoiding people handing out flyers near shopping centres, innocent teenagers raising money for charity, or credit card salesmen.

We have stopped thinking and started using snap, mindless reactions.

So, insurance agents find even more ways to start the conversations. Recently, we just had Chinese New Year celebrations. So I saw some agents at the MRT stations starting off by holding out their hands to people and saying “Happy New Year!” Because the Chinese population in Singapore has been brainwashed into returning the greeting, the agents now can start on their spiel. So we have to either listen to them and hear what they have to say, or reject them after we have made contact with them, and in a sense, acknowledged that they exist. Not that many people want to do that.

This latest technique doesn’t have to work ALL the time. As long as it works a few more times than their previous methods (yes, it does) they are more than happy to use it. At least, until we, as a population, get tired of it and become even ruder to anyone who tries to interrupt us when we are trying to go on with our daily lives.


  1. We get into the habit of ignoring people who approach us, hoping that they’ll catch the hint and go away. And if we do that with a criminal in a fringe area, we have just shown that we are ideal victims, because we are not prepared to deal with any attack they might launch at us.
  2. If criminals need to, they will just continue to find ways to cover up the way they close the distance and attack. For example, they might approach a lady in a fringe area and say “Excuse me, I think you dropped some money”. That technique, especially with money-minded Singaporeans, is a powerful way to cause us to let down our guard and let the criminal close the distance.
  3. We become callous people, ignoring even people who genuinely need our help or have our best interests at heart.

Do you see how we end up with mindless, knee-jerk reactions? And how criminals can make use of them whether we ignore them or not?

So what’s the solution?

We need to practice living actively in the now. A safe area can become risky in just a few minutes depending on who else is there. So we have to build into ourselves a constant awareness of what is really happening around us now, instead of being caught up in our own thoughts about what happened 5 minutes earlier or what’s going to happen 5 minutes later.

We also need to engage with activities that clear our minds of all the mind-spam within so that we can walk in awareness at all times. Martial arts training, playing the piano, arts and craft or even just simple jogging (as long as you don’t jog where you can get stabbed!) are activities that help clean up the inner clutter within our thoughts so that we can be more alert in our daily lives.

And of course we have to learn how to recognize a dangerous area in the first place. Awareness without understanding is paranoia. And being blindly paranoid will clutter our minds even more and make it harder for us to see what’s really happening around us. So do your research, attend my talks, take my classes and of course stay tuned to the next issue of this newsletter!

JJ Huang
Walk In Safety ™


Sign up NOW for the Walk in Safety ™ Primer Module and get yourself better prepared to deal with violent crime!


Wellness Infinity Health & Recreation Club
55 Newton Road
#05-02 Revenue House
Singapore 307987

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Registration Deadline: 29th March 2010

Registration: email your name, handphone number and desired class time to or SMS your name, email address and desired class time to 94230900.

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About Junjie
Musician, Martial Artist and father of two boys. Rambler, thinker and compulsive teacher.

6 Responses to Newsletter 02 – Don’t Bug Me!

  1. travelwestusa says:

    JJ, I absolutely love your newsletters. Wish I could be there for a sticky peek but I can’t (not in the same country at the moment). Good writing and all the best for your workshop.

  2. Ling says:

    Hey, dude, that totally rocked!

  3. Auntie says:

    Great write up!!!

  4. eastpaw says:

    Good one, dude.

  5. Pingback: Newsletter (14) – 6 Tips for Preventing Kidnapping | Walk in Safety

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