If you have read our article Baselines in the Game of Safety, you learned that finding what is “normal” is a big part of knowing if you are currently in danger.  When you know what is “normal” for a situation, you will be able to respond faster and more effectively when something abnormal does show up.

In most circumstances people generally display behaviors of “getting along” with others.  Some examples:

If you are at the grocery store you might find yourself nodding and smiling at others as you pass by them in the aisle. 

When people are standing in line they tend to give enough personal space to not impose on others, but close enough to give a clear indication that they are in line.

As you continue to find your baseline of what is normal in your day to day life, the abnormal behaviors become easier to spot.  Because our brain helps to filter out the “noise” in daily life, we need to let it know what is important for us to notice.  So, what ARE some of those abnormal behaviors that we should take notice of? 

In Patrick Van Horne’s book, Left of Bang, he states, “The preparation of an attack leaves behind cues a trained observer can pick up on to provide an early warning.”  In his book, Van Horne shares six domains of human behavior that “Marine Combat Profilers use on the battlefield in order to quickly determine whether someone is a friend or foe.”  One of those behaviors focuses on body language.    Let’s look at 3 clues you could look for in a person’s body language to determine if they might pose a threat to you.

  1. Dominant behavior: Dominate behavior is part of a person’s “fight response.”  Dominate body language looks like they are trying to look bigger or intimidating in order to cause a submissive response in another.  A person’s physical size of smaller or bigger does not necessarily determine dominant or submissive behavior, it is more about “looking bigger” or intimidating.If you are at your grocery store waiting for your turn to check out, and you notice someone being pushy, overbearing, or aggressive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is in peril, but it does mean you should keep your awareness turned up.  It may be that a store owner is just dealing with an irate customer.  In most cases like this, the situation will play out without violence.  But it is still a good idea to be situationally aware enough to know where the exits are and what tools are available for you to use if you need to protect yourself.
  2. Uncomfortable behavior: As a society, we are used to waiting in line, waiting for the traffic light to turn, waiting for our friend or spouse when they are trying on clothes.  Most often we tend to display comfortable behavior in these situations.  Although we may feel impatient, we are generally relaxed as we go throughout our daily experiences.  A person who is up to no good may display behavior that looks agitated or at least uncomfortable.  If you see someone looking around/behind them, more than anyone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are about to do something bad.  It may just be someone who is new to situational awareness and practicing the skill of being situationally aware, or someone who has experienced a bad situation recently.  BUT it may be someone who is up to no good and is about to do something that could be dangerous to you.  Since you have already established your baseline of normal behavior, an uncomfortable person should stand out to you.  This is your sign to turn up your situational awareness.
  3. Overly Interested behavior: It’s surprising how few people are paying attention to their environment.  As you practice situational awareness skills, you might be amazed at how clueless most people are to their surroundings.  If you find yourself in a situation where you see someone appearing overly interested in a particular person or thing, it’s a good idea to turn up your awareness level and continue to keep an eye on the situation so you can report it or get out of the area.

Now that you know some particular behaviors to can see how they fit or don’t fit into the baseline of your normal experience.  If you were at a sporting event it could be possible to see all three of these behaviors being displayed by those about to compete.  In that case you would not necessarily think they were showing “shifty” actions.  If, on the other hand, you were at the local library checking out the next best novel in the Harry Potter series, these behaviors would not be normal and could possibly escalate into something you would need to escape from for your survival.

It’s important to remember that situational awareness is a skill set.  It isn’t difficult, but it does take practice.  It takes attention and focus to pick out the clues that may indicate danger.  It takes a mindset of doing whatever it takes to survive, and it takes commitment to keep on doing it in every situation. 

Start today by deciding that you are worth the work it takes to be a survivor, NOT a victim!

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Until next time,

Penny Blackmon
Penny Blackmon

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