Can you read the messages people send you through their behavior? Their posture, gestures, mimic and even relation to the environment they are at can tell you that something is about to go down!
One of my coaches taught me that whenever something bad happened to me, I “let” that happen to me. Meaning I didn’t react to something properly, or worse … I didn’t see it coming (I DID NOT ACT).
Having good awareness skills is one thing but we can try to go even deeper.
Let’s say for example, when being approached by someone on the street, is it always by a mugger? Do you expect that every hobo asking for a dollar would turn out violent when not receiving one? OR on the other hand … do you think everyone expressing a need for something (be it time, change, directions etc.) who tries to stop you is genuine?
Sometimes you can not tell that something will or will not turn out bad, until you recognize the behavioral signs. The patterns, which if recognized, can tell you more about your situation than words.
Let’s look at some of the most common signs that you should train yourself to see so you can tell that a person (or people) you deal with are probably meaning you no good.
All of the sudden you hear “Hey Mister!” – you turn to the direction the voice is coming from and you see a person dedicating all of his gesticulation towards you while closing the gap between you two in a really fast manner.
Not only have you been distracted from your mental pattern - whatever it was you were thinking about – and now the situation could be too sudden for you, experiencing the deer in the headlights effect (if you were not searching for someone to have a beef with of course), but your vision and focus has been reduced to this particular person leaving you vulnerable for attacks from sides and from behind.
In terms of Cooper’s Color Code – at this point you should turn from white to yellow.
It could happen that you let the person approaching come close to you as you didn’t see any other clues that would indicate you are in danger.
The chance might also be that as the proximity is getting smaller, he will try to offer a handshake or be even bolder and rest his arm on your shoulder.
If you don’t know the person or do not feel comfortable in his presence, you should not allow him to establish any kind of tactile relationship – meaning him touching you with any part of his body.
Know that this may serve the other person for controlling you and the distance. By doing so he knows his attack would be performed from effective proximity and also, he can restrict your movement before, during and after the attack (meaning he can prevent you from turning around, running away, covering, etc.)
If for whatever reason you find a person closer to you than you would or should allow it (given the scenario circumstances), you have to act instantly and establish a new distance that allows you to effectively react to any sudden changes in his or other people’s physical behavior (offensively or defensively), to clearly see what the person is doing and what is happening around you.
When a person behaves in a certain way and for no apparent reason changes that behavior in a very short time period (some act immediately, some first scan their surroundings and then get in the motion).
For example, when you walk around a person sitting on a bench and as you pass him by, all of the sudden he raises up and walks with you - right behind your back.
That could be a sign of predatory behavior and you can not afford to let him grab you in a choke hold or stab you in your back – you have to act right away; create distance, get him in front of you and if he gives you time, be verbally assertive.
For example a person in an underground parking lot, hanging around cars, looking inside each through its window is apparently not trying to find his own car but may be a car that would be worth breaking in to.
Or – parking lot again, but the guy is leaning against a pillar, head covered with a hoodie, hands crossed, instantly zoning around the place. Is this guy waiting for someone to come and drive him away, or is he looking for some poor soul he can take a car from?
Try to appreciate the illogicality of one’s behavior. Does the person fit the environment he is currently at? It may be nothing … but it is always something you should be aware of and pay attention to.
Look at this video from …. With couple of good hints in it.
When looking at the points above in this article, one can argue that there are way more things that can tell you a person is setting you up for an attack; and the one would be right. There are couple more.
What I want to accomplish here though is something else than making you a pro in neurolinguistics and non-verbal communication.
For an everyday person, your awareness may not be trained much and so you should get your skills right about orientation in your surroundings first.
Know what happens around you. Protect your personal space and don’t let anyone get close to you more than necessary, avoid grabs while talking to a stranger, notice sudden changes in behavior and decide for your self whether this person actually fits in the environment… all this you can still do from a safe distance, even when the suspect hasn’t noticed you yet.
First train this. You can try to read peoples facial muscle twitches later.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do!
- Bruce Lee
Just knowing this will not help you in any way. You have to train this and rehearse. Create scenarios, alter the process and learn to adapt. Practice and develop skills.
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