Situational awareness practice
Posted 05-30-2012 at 06:56 by RussP
Updated 05-30-2012 at 06:56 by RussP
Another gem from Misty...
Originally Posted by Misty02
I believe that is something most of us can always use more work on, in spite working on it continuously, I doubt mine will ever be at a level I find satisfactory. I still get surprised and startled by people that try to sneak up on me in the right settings, my kids and grandkids get one heck of a kick when they manage to do so. Granted, most times it occurs in my comfort zones where I let my guard down because I’m relaxed or otherwise completely engaged with what I’m doing. My two main weak zones are at home and often the office.
We found motivation was not an issue when we turned it to a game and practiced it often. Nearly anything you turn into a game or a competition my family would be on board for. Personally, I believe few individuals can achieve 100% awareness of their surroundings 100% of the time. Some trained individuals might, but few of us have received that level of training. Taking that in consideration, you want to be around other people that remain highly aware as well, they’ll pick up on what you miss (hopefully).
Case in point: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/two-tampa-men-arrested-in-attack-on-macdill-soldier/1230931. This soldier has probably had more SA training than most of us. I don’t understand how, at that time of night, he would allow anyone to get into his personal space with the excuse of asking for a dollar. An even greater invitation came about when he reached for his wallet to give them the dollar. That allowed even greater proximity while both his hands and attention were diverted elsewhere.
Do some exercises at home. Stuff like this is fun and sharpens your observations skills: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo. Take a pair of sunglasses, buy a soda and sit at a mall’s courtyard for a bit. Observe people, how they handle their bags and purses, their interactions with others. Notice who is observing whom, for how long, the possible intent for them observing that person. When someone puts down their bags on the floor or at a counter, look around discretely, who is observing that person and their packages. I’ve been doing that since I was in high school, mostly because I enjoy people watching and how they interact with one another. If you quietly observe, you will learn to identify an interaction about to go sour just by the posture one of the two people takes, long before the first hostile word comes out of their mouth. They are sending the same message to the person they’re talking to, if that person is perceptive they’ll do one of two things (1) beat them with the first hostile comment or (2) attempt to appease the person that started posturing for conflict. If you’re at a mall with kiosks, sit nearby and observe, someone will attempt to negotiate a lower price for whatever they’re selling. Watch the interaction (you don’t need to be close enough to hear what they’re saying) just watch the body language and facial expressions. If something else is going on at another kiosk, keep an eye on that one too without losing sight of the one that originally got your attention. Little by little you’ll be able to expand on how many interactions you can keep tabs on without losing much on any. As you expand, attempt to do so with interactions that are in different directions. You’ll find yourself smiling often as you see your predictions coming true, that is a good time for sip of your soda to mask your smile.
Practice wherever you go, stores, gas stations, just about everywhere. People are constantly sending messages to one another, most times without noticing. Be very attentive to the ones that appear to be consciously controlling the message they are trying to send, more so if they are doing so while approaching another, eyes, smile and hands (mostly eyes and a soft smile) will be what they use to lull someone into a (possibly false) sense of security to get close enough (a sales person will engage the hands as part of the soothing body language, a criminal will likely control attention to their hands). Normally people don’t allow others into their personal space unless the other has managed to get that instinctive guard lowered. They’ll ask for a light, the time, directions, compliment you on something. Pay more attention to the overall body language than the words (shoulders will often reflect hand movement before arm and hands do), rarely will a person be able to disguise it all to the point you don’t notice something odd and out of place.
People-watching is actually lots of fun for the most part, if you go at it with the right mind set, you’ll learn more than you think.
Before you know it you would be able to enter a place, scan the people in there and gather enough information (quickly) to determine if you wish to stay or if somewhere else might be a better choice. Remain observant and you’ll know when it is the time to leave too.
When entering a place of business (this becomes second nature eventually) scan for all available exits. Don’t forget the one at the back for employees and unloading merchandise. In restaurants, I prefer sitting near back emergency exits than the front door, for obvious reasons.
Training could be fun if set it up to be fun.
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