By Barbara Berckhan.
Free Association Books
ISBN 1 85343 532 5
I thought a book with a section entitled “How to deal with rude
statements” listing the likes of “You must have put your make-up on
with a shovel” could not be for real. So at first I dismissed the
work as trivial. But then I asked my partner for her opinion. She
said: “It’s a wonderful book. It can change people’s lives.”
With those words echoing in my brain I reconsidered my
impressions, reread the material and discovered that this book,
while not directly covering levels of aggression all too frequently
found within social care, provides, in the words of the author, “a
method of self-defence with only one aim: to deflect the attack and
As with strategies for assertiveness the aim is never to insult
nor humiliate, after all “human unfriendliness spreads like a ‘flu
epidemic’,” but neither is it to encourage attacks by being
passive. The first chapter offers insightful methods for developing
a confident presence through the use of among other things, a
protective shield. Three chapters each have distinct themes:
“Winning without a fight”, “The quick-witted riposte”, “The black
belt”, but the baseline is always: “don’t try to change the
attacker… develop your wit… there is no defeat, only
Divided into five chapters, with the last chapter encapsulating
the previous four thereby allowing the reader to practise the
ideas, this compact book hides beneath a deceptively chatty style.
I am glad I reread it as it gave me back a feeling of normality and
in a world where maybe we are becoming more cynical it is good to
be given strategies for managing the put-downs without having to
resort to hostility or aggression ourselves.
Ray Braithwaite is a freelance trainer.