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Situational Awareness: Tips To Stay Frosty

Classified

Professional
Founding Member
When i worked LE i often carried a recorder (plain clothes & before cams went mainstream). I often wore an ear bud that had a mic so that i could record all interactions. Many times people would ask what i was listening to or thought i was being rude.

As counterintuative as it may sound, giving the illusion of a lack of awareness might be an advantage.

Just something to think about.
 

Mountain Man

Elite
Founding Member
Yeah situational and surrounding awareness is something everyone should be mindful of. You never know if a large sign hanging from the ceiling of a grocery store will fall square on your collar bone and breaking it. Yes oddly specific. I was 10 when that happened.

Well over a hundred ways it can help save you or others from harm.
 

Bloodknight

Master Class
Founding Member
I feel situational awareness is an acquired trait.Raised on the mean streets of Chicago & 6 years in the Marines.Including A year in country.What I thought years ago was paranoia.Was in fact situational awareness.I am amazed by how many people I see that are totally unaware of whats going on around them
 

Tenbones

Master Class
Founding Member
I am uncomfortable with that "making eye contact" statement myself. Like rodbuster1050 pointed out, a lot of people feel threatened or challenged by a stranger making eye contact with them. Wild animals are much the same way. Read any knowledgeable articles on being confronted by a wild animal and they will tell you to avoid making eye contact. The same applies to humans.

I know the intent of what the author was trying to say, but I think she would have been better off saying something like, Scan the faces of the people you pass, but avoid making and holding eye contact, as some people find that threatening and challenging.
 

ScottJ

Professional
Founding Member
I feel situational awareness is an acquired trait.Raised on the mean streets of Chicago & 6 years in the Marines.Including A year in country.What I thought years ago was paranoia.Was in fact situational awareness.I am amazed by how many people I see that are totally unaware of whats going on around them
"I am amazed by how many people I see that are totally unaware of whats going on around them"

Totally agree, and I think it has been become much more prevalent with the amount of folks with their faces stuck in a phone while out in public.
 

Grifter

Custom
Founding Member
In a previous job I spent a lot of time watching people. When people avoid eye contact, or as we called it "the look," we knew they could be up to no good.

Making quick eye contact isnt a bad thing, staring or avoiding it completely is usually a sign of something. It may or may not be bad, but it is worth noticing.

That is how I interpreted what the author was trying to say.
 

ScottJ

Professional
Founding Member
Yeah situational and surrounding awareness is something everyone should be mindful of. You never know if a large sign hanging from the ceiling of a grocery store will fall square on your collar bone and breaking it. Yes oddly specific. I was 10 when that happened.

Well over a hundred ways it can help save you or others from harm.
👍 Mishap prevention
 

Bloodknight

Master Class
Founding Member
the only part of the article I didn't like was looking people you pass in the eyes in my experience if you keep your head on a swivel instead of looking them in the eyes people or that one phsyco will not feel threaten and not have a reason to come at you like they need one but no sense taking chances
I don't have to look people directly in the eye to "see".them.Body language says a lot & trust your gut feeling
 

TSiWRX

Professional
Michelle (and her husband, Chris) Cerino's articles are always thoughtfully-written and well-executed. I was lucky to have been able to take a few handgun lessons under Chris a few years ago.

The "First Person Defender" series which they partially guest-host under the auspices of Gun Talk (most of the videos, if not all, are available on the Gun Talk Media YouTube Channel) are an excellent way to "take your mind there," particularly if you are not able to find or participate in live force-on-force training. Here's a typical example:


I believe they are now up to Season 7 of the series, so there's plenty of content to watch, for those who are interested.

As Grifter alluded to, "your body will not go where your mind hasn't already" is a very real phenomenon. Most of the SMEs in the self-defense arena will bring up various incidents in which a protagonist (or multiple) manage to either survive or come to their demise because of just this phenomenon. Even if you can't physically get training in this type of arena, it's always instructive to watch what others have done, and the corrections that they are able to make.


----


One book I'd like to add to Michelle's reading list is the relatively recently released Amazon.com bestseller Violence of Mind, by Varg Freeborn.

Similarly, I would encourage everyone here to try to get to one of Dr. William Aprill's excellent "Unthinkable" seminars - https://aprillriskconsulting.com/


----


the only part of the article I didn't like was looking people you pass in the eyes in my experience if you keep your head on a swivel instead of looking them in the eyes people or that one phsyco will not feel threaten and not have a reason to come at you like they need one but no sense taking chances

I am uncomfortable with that "making eye contact" statement myself. Like rodbuster1050 pointed out, a lot of people feel threatened or challenged by a stranger making eye contact with them. Wild animals are much the same way. Read any knowledgeable articles on being confronted by a wild animal and they will tell you to avoid making eye contact. The same applies to humans.

I know the intent of what the author was trying to say, but I think she would have been better off saying something like, Scan the faces of the people you pass, but avoid making and holding eye contact, as some people find that threatening and challenging.

In a previous job I spent a lot of time watching people. When people avoid eye contact, or as we called it "the look," we knew they could be up to no good.

Making quick eye contact isnt a bad thing, staring or avoiding it completely is usually a sign of something. It may or may not be bad, but it is worth noticing.

That is how I interpreted what the author was trying to say.

All manners of interpretation that's been given here are totally correct -

Eye-contact means different things in different segments of the population. There are some areas/communities where such eye-contact is expected, and some areas/communities where it is not - and yes, in certain areas, it can be seen as a non-verbal challenge that will quickly escalate to verbal and physical posturing.

If you are not familiar with the customs of a community/area you find yourself in, take a moment to watch how personal interactions either are or are not manifest, if-possible. Sometimes, it's possible to blend-in; others, not. Regardless of which side of this equation you fall into at any given moment, there's going to be social norms that well-reasoning adults know that they should try to conform to, at least here in the States: resist the urge to fight the system just for the sake of sensibilities or political pretense - the other party may not care at all.

I've been an outsider virtually all of my life.

I'm obviously ethnically Asian, for those who have seen pictures/videos of me from this Forum and others.

When my parents and I immigrated to the US, they left Taiwan without the permission of their parents, so they received no financial support. We lived in the attic of my Godmother/Godfather's single home in what's considered (although we certainly didn't know it at the time - we just knew we [all of us] were poor) inner-city Baltimore. Starting public schooling in Baltimore City in the 3rd grade, I was the only Asian - and a non-English speaker at that - while all of my friends were black...well, all but the lone white kid. :) Fast-forward 5 years, my parents relocated us to the suburbs north of Atlanta, Georgia, the then up-and-coming Alpharetta/Roswell area, and overnight, all of my friends became white...well, all but one lone black kid. I found myself at that time one of just five Asians.

At the same time - probably because I was either the only Asian or one of so few - I also never really felt nor was treated as "the outsider." Even today, I'm just as comfortable trolling the city for soul-food with my black friends as I am hunting down BBQ in the country with my white friends. Yet, I remain cognizant of who I am and what I look like - because the way the world perceives me doesn't care for my say.

Knowing who you are in the world fits directly into this awareness equation. A 6'4" 250 lb. black man walking down the street faces a very different threat profile versus a 5'2" Asian woman. Our way of dress, speech, and physical demeanor only further adds to that difference.

I've made it very clear in another post on this Forum (https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/critical-defense-or-federal-hst.91/page-3#post-6511) that I have no real-life self-defense experience (well, I shouldn't say none, it's more like very, very little :)) and that I'm glad for it - and that's the honest truth.

Why?

I'd like to think it's because I really try to walk the talk: to de-escalate as much as possible, and to simply "not be there" as much as possible (see @David N. 's wisdom: https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/the-21-foot-rule.441/#post-7328).

Part of being "situationally aware" is understanding your interactions with others: understanding what the decorum/rules of that society happens to be - and importantly, how to apologize sincerely and to de-escalate earnestly, yet without appearing weak (and thus potentially instigating further aggression).
 

KLGunner

Moderator
Staff member
Michelle (and her husband, Chris) Cerino's articles are always thoughtfully-written and well-executed. I was lucky to have been able to take a few handgun lessons under Chris a few years ago.

The "First Person Defender" series which they partially guest-host under the auspices of Gun Talk (most of the videos, if not all, are available on the Gun Talk Media YouTube Channel) are an excellent way to "take your mind there," particularly if you are not able to find or participate in live force-on-force training. Here's a typical example:


I believe they are now up to Season 7 of the series, so there's plenty of content to watch, for those who are interested.

As Grifter alluded to, "your body will not go where your mind hasn't already" is a very real phenomenon. Most of the SMEs in the self-defense arena will bring up various incidents in which a protagonist (or multiple) manage to either survive or come to their demise because of just this phenomenon. Even if you can't physically get training in this type of arena, it's always instructive to watch what others have done, and the corrections that they are able to make.


----


One book I'd like to add to Michelle's reading list is the relatively recently released Amazon.com bestseller Violence of Mind, by Varg Freeborn.

Similarly, I would encourage everyone here to try to get to one of Dr. William Aprill's excellent "Unthinkable" seminars - https://aprillriskconsulting.com/


----








All manners of interpretation that's been given here are totally correct -

Eye-contact means different things in different segments of the population. There are some areas/communities where such eye-contact is expected, and some areas/communities where it is not - and yes, in certain areas, it can be seen as a non-verbal challenge that will quickly escalate to verbal and physical posturing.

If you are not familiar with the customs of a community/area you find yourself in, take a moment to watch how personal interactions either are or are not manifest, if-possible. Sometimes, it's possible to blend-in; others, not. Regardless of which side of this equation you fall into at any given moment, there's going to be social norms that well-reasoning adults know that they should try to conform to, at least here in the States: resist the urge to fight the system just for the sake of sensibilities or political pretense - the other party may not care at all.

I've been an outsider virtually all of my life.

I'm obviously ethnically Asian, for those who have seen pictures/videos of me from this Forum and others.

When my parents and I immigrated to the US, they left Taiwan without the permission of their parents, so they received no financial support. We lived in the attic of my Godmother/Godfather's single home in what's considered (although we certainly didn't know it at the time - we just knew we [all of us] were poor) inner-city Baltimore. Starting public schooling in Baltimore City in the 3rd grade, I was the only Asian - and a non-English speaker at that - while all of my friends were black...well, all but the lone white kid. :) Fast-forward 5 years, my parents relocated us to the suburbs north of Atlanta, Georgia, the then up-and-coming Alpharetta/Roswell area, and overnight, all of my friends became white...well, all but one lone black kid. I found myself at that time one of just five Asians.

At the same time - probably because I was either the only Asian or one of so few - I also never really felt nor was treated as "the outsider." Even today, I'm just as comfortable trolling the city for soul-food with my black friends as I am hunting down BBQ in the country with my white friends. Yet, I remain cognizant of who I am and what I look like - because the way the world perceives me doesn't care for my say.

Knowing who you are in the world fits directly into this awareness equation. A 6'4" 250 lb. black man walking down the street faces a very different threat profile versus a 5'2" Asian woman. Our way of dress, speech, and physical demeanor only further adds to that difference.

I've made it very clear in another post on this Forum (https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/critical-defense-or-federal-hst.91/page-3#post-6511) that I have no real-life self-defense experience (well, I shouldn't say none, it's more like very, very little :)) and that I'm glad for it - and that's the honest truth.

Why?

I'd like to think it's because I really try to walk the talk: to de-escalate as much as possible, and to simply "not be there" as much as possible (see @David N. 's wisdom: https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/the-21-foot-rule.441/#post-7328).

Part of being "situationally aware" is understanding your interactions with others: understanding what the decorum/rules of that society happens to be - and importantly, how to apologize sincerely and to de-escalate earnestly, yet without appearing weak (and thus potentially instigating further aggression).
That is a lot of great information and a great video. I think I’m gonna be subscribing to that channel now.
 

HVACDOC

Elite
Founding Member
the only part of the article I didn't like was looking people you pass in the eyes in my experience if you keep your head on a swivel instead of looking them in the eyes people or that one phsyco will not feel threaten and not have a reason to come at you like they need one but no sense taking chances
I also disagree with looking people in the eye for a prolonged period. Let them know that you see them and leave it at that.
Being from a small town I always looked directly at people. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Memphis when I was in my early twenties and was confused when every crazy on the street would strike a conversation with me. A street wise person told me to stop looking them in the eye as it was an invitation to interact with me. After changing this one aspect of my approach to people I found myself in far fewer questionable situations.
 

LRChops

Alpha
Hi I'm new here. This article has some good information. If I look at someone in the eye, I smile and make some type of acknowledgment. It can be a head nod, verbal, or something non intrusive. I agree with many responses here that you should not stare someone down. The writer of the article may have failed to articulate the intention behind the explanation.
 

southtex

Professional
Founding Member
What I thought years ago was paranoia.Was in fact situational awareness.I am amazed by how many people I see that are totally unaware of whats going on around them

Agree. I slightly paid attention when I was younger but that changed after training 30+yrs ago. I now stay cognizant of my surroundings and always try to position myself in the best possible positions. My wife is still a work in progress but improving all the time. I do glance at passing people,watch store windows,take advantage of mirrors,and stop periodically to check behind me. I can't remember the last time I felt like the paranoid guy.
 

Mr.W.

Elite
Founding Member
Hi I'm new here. This article has some good information. If I look at someone in the eye, I smile and make some type of acknowledgment. It can be a head nod, verbal, or something non intrusive. I agree with many responses here that you should not stare someone down. The writer of the article may have failed to articulate the intention behind the explanation.
Welcome aboard!
 
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