Use your mind
Think before you get in a situation. Visualize what you would do IF..Also, if you get a funky or weird feeling about some place or some One, Listen to that feeling--it is telling you that you are at risk.
As far as macho goes, I will never forget a sign I saw in a taco shop in CA : "Macho is not mucho". I believe many situations escalate because of pride, arrogance, and the need to be Macho.
Also, do not have as your friends anyone whose life is filled with odd happenings and soap opera type conflicts or who seems just not to get how to stay out of trouble.
Your mind is your best weapon and although there are times it is imperative that you use force, Benjamin Franklins' words still hold true for many situations: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".