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Old March 24, 2010, 01:48 AM   #1
RamSlammer
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How to avoid being a "fight target"?

This bothers me. I'm a big guy, 6'3" 275 lbs, former college football player many moons ago. Problem is several times lately when I go to a bar there's some really big dude who wants to have a ******* contest. I give off no indications of wanting to brawl, but seem to be a target of guys with something to prove. Not rough bars either, but just the simple sports bar.

In fact, I'm a middle aged banker (46) who could care less, but somehow I seem to bring out the worst in some dudes who just want to get into it.

My buddy sums it up as "you just look like a bad dude and threaten the other bad dudes so much they have something to prove". Sorry, but I don't get that. Also, I carry regularly and have had occasion to pass my gun to either my wife or friend whenever a fight seems unavoidable. I thought this the best action but have wondered what would happen if some guy drew a knife or something.

Typically I just defend myself and whomever tires of trying to hit me without success. I had to really punch one guy last year, but generally just try to steer clear of hurting anyone just for being a drunk idiot.

Moreso than that, I would like opinions on how to (I guess) appear less threatening or avoid fighting which I have no desire for. I'm a conservatively dressed guy usually, short hair, no tat's, etc. Is it body language? Something I give off that is threatening, etc.??

Help . . .I don't get it and hate to be on guard just going to the corner bar to have a beer and pizza with my buds.
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Old March 24, 2010, 02:35 AM   #2
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Odd, im about 5'11 and 145 wet, and i get **** everywhere i go to. Always assumed it was because im a pretty boy (baby faced), i always seem to draw the attention of a**hole whenever im out wether its the mall, movies, or just the park. I think theres just more douchebags in the world than normal acting men, its a shame my state doesnt allow concealed carry, its left up to me and my bare knuckles. (i often carry a knife but wouldnt use it unless i had no other choice)
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Old March 24, 2010, 02:40 AM   #3
mete
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Probably body language .Stay out of bars. Alcohol does strange things to people .One of the guys who worked for my father was a really big guy. He had to be very careful in a bar because there was always someone who thought he could whip the man. But he was so big and strong he could easily do very serious damage to people !!
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Old March 24, 2010, 07:22 AM   #4
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My guess is that is goes beyond your looks and body language. You claim that you don't give off any indications of wanting to brawl, and yet guys in bars that you don't consider to be rough apparently want to fight you and this happens repeatedly? My guess is that we are not getting the whole story about your behavior.

mete is right. Stay out of bars. Common sense would hold that if you are continually having trouble in bars that you should avoid going in them.
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Old March 24, 2010, 07:26 AM   #5
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Thats why I stay out of bars...no gain in it...always problems
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Old March 24, 2010, 07:46 AM   #6
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I have to agree with Mete, somehow the way you carry yourself is sending an agressive message thats being picked up on by others in the bar. We all send messages with body language, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, bearing, etc.
Im not a big guy, 5'6" and 145#. But even in town, I "carry" myself like the 1SG I am. Its sub-consiouse, and I don't realize that I'm doing it, but people I just met can peg me for a senior NCO.
Next time you're out with friends, have them pay close attention to how you carry yourself, and try to honestly evaluate your body language. Then make a focused effort to adjust how you carry yourself.
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Old March 24, 2010, 08:05 AM   #7
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I'm average height, but I've always worked out and am pretty muscular. There are simply folks out there that like to fight and look for someone who looks like they will fight them. This mostly happens in crowded bars where some jerk isn't doing so hot with the ladies.

Also, there's another class of folks who like to pick fights - generally some guys who just learned how to box, kickbox, martial arts, etc. Sometimes you get one who thinks they want to test their skills - so they look for a big, but probably untrained guy to pick something with. I used to box and kickbox and every now and then I'd come across someone who just started training who was like that. We didn't tolerate that kind of stuff, so they wouldn't hang around too long.
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Old March 24, 2010, 08:34 AM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramslammer
Problem is several times lately when I go to a bar...
There's your trouble right there. You want a pizza and some beer? Stop at the corner store on your way home from the pizza joint and grab a case.

At the very least, stay away from the kinds of places that have patrons that are less than civilized.
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:00 AM   #9
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It seems to me that if the OP has detected a pattern (and is armed) that he'd eventually choose to stop going to those locations.

I also feel like there's more to the story.

But in the vein of "helpful advice"...

http://www.self-defender.net/verbal-de-escalation.htm

also
http://www.articlealley.com/article_12898_24.html

Quote:
Being able to de-escalate one's own and the anger of others is an important skill to have in business. Hopefully, this is not something the reader deals with on a regular basis but unfortunately most people in business encounter either their own anger or the anger of others more frequently than they would like.

In order to be successful at de-escalating anger, a person must understand and become skillful in the following areas.

Prevention Steps:

1. Recognize that anger is a choice of a wide range of behaviors that could be used to get what one needs in a situation. It is a behavior that has benefit for its user. Anger can get people the attention they need, help them escape things they don't want to do, help them gain control over another person or situation, or pump them up when they are feeling small and insignificant.


2. The person interacting with the angry person must identify his or her own emotion at any given point in time. If the helping person is also experiencing anger, then that person will not be very effective assisting others to manage theirs.

3. When potential interventionists are experiencing anger, they must be able to change what they are doing or thinking to get their emotions under control or seek the assistance they will need to manage the situation.

4. Perform a quick self-assessment. A potential helper must ask the following questions. Can I avoid criticizing and finding fault with the angry person? Can I avoid being judgmental? Can I keep from trying to control the other person into doing something he or she doesn't want to do? Can I keep myself removed from the conflict? Can I believe that the people using anger have the right to make decisions and choices about how they meet their needs and that they have within them the ability to make those decisions? Can I try to see the situation from the angry person's point of view and understand what need or needs he or she is trying to satisfy? And finally, can I remember that my job is to place the healing of relationships as my primary concern?


If the listener can't answer these questions in the affirmative, then he or she will need assistance in managing the person who is expressing anger.

5. Recognize early warning signs. Many incidents of anger could be prevented if those who are around a person about to become angry notice the subtle change in the person's behavior. Quiet people may become agitated; while louder, more outgoing people generally become quiet and introspective. Paying attention to these subtle changes and simply commenting on the change could help the individual talk about things so he or she wouldn't have to become angry.

Prevention goes a long way. However, there still will be times when you don't notice the early warning signs or when your first encounter with the person occurs when they are already in an angry state.

Also, it's possible that you will do everything right in this prevention phase and angry people will still choose anger as their best chance for getting what they want. When any of these situations occur, the listener will need to employ one or all of the five de-escalation skills.

Intervention Steps:

6. Active listening is the process of really attempting to hear, acknowledge and understand what a person is saying. It is a genuine attempt to put oneself in the other person's situation. More than anything, this involves LISTENING! Listening means attending not only to the words the other person is saying but also the underlying emotion, as well as, the accompanying body language.

By simply providing a sounding board and a willing ear, a person's anger can be dissipated.

7. Acknowledgement occurs when the listener is attempting to sense the emotion underlying the words a person is using and then comments on that emotion. The person may say something like, "You sound really angry right now!" By acknowledging and really trying to understand what the angry person is feeling, that person becomes able to release a lot of the aggression.

8. Agreeing---often when people are angry about something, there is at least 2 % truth in what they are saying. When attempting to diffuse someone's anger, it is important to find that 2 % of truth and agree with it.

When someone is angry and the listener attempts to reason with the person, his or her efforts will be largely ineffective. When the listener agrees with the 2% of truth in the angry person's tirade, he or she takes away the resistance and consequently eliminates the fuel for the fire.

9. Apologizing is a good de-escalation skill. I'm not talking about apologizing for an imaginary wrong. I am talking about sincerely apologizing for anything in the situation that was unjust. It's simply a statement acknowledging that something occurred that wasn't right or fair.

This can have the effect of letting angry people know that the listener is sincerely sorry for what they are going through and they may cease to direct their anger at the person attempting to help.

10. Inviting criticism is the final of the de-escalation skills. In this instance the listener would simply ask the angry person to voice his or her criticism of the listener or the situation. The person intervening might say something like, "Go ahead. Tell me everything that has you upset. Don't hold anything back. I want to hear everything you are angry about."

This invitation will sometimes temporarily intensify the angry emotion but if the listener continues to encourage the person to vent his or her anger and frustration, eventually, the angry person runs out of complaints. Just let the angry person vent until the anger is spent.

Even when using the above ten skills, there may be a rare occasion when the listener is unsuccessful in the attempts to decrease the other person's anger. The listener's safety should be the primary concern. The listener should not get between the angry person and his or her only means of escape and shouldn't allow the angry person to block the listener's only means of escape.

Anyone intervening in an emotionally charged situation should always have a plan or an established way to get help if needed and remember to always stay calm. An angry person is generally someone capable of getting out of control. When out of control people sense they are intimidating and scaring others, it can increase their sense of power and control, resulting in an escalation of the situation. The helpers must stay calm and act as if they are in control of themselves and the situation.
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
I have to agree with Mete, somehow the way you carry yourself is sending an agressive message thats being picked up on by others in the bar. We all send messages with body language, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, bearing, etc.
I'll agree. My wife tells me I'm "intimidating". I stand 6'2" and weigh in at around 275, and carry the extra load well. She says I have a "don't mess with me" look on my face. I carry myself like I'm fully capable of handling trouble, but I'm not openly confrontative. When I speak, it's confident (at times, forceful) but not aggressive. I try to send signals that say - while I am not looking for trouble, I can handle it if it comes along. For me, all this works to PREVENT a confrontation. Most people like the OP describes are bullies, and a bully doesn't want to deal with someone who might actually give him trouble.

Bars? Been in a few - can't see the need. I can watch the game, movies, or other stuff in my home where it's quiet and peaceful. I got a 150 watt surround stereo with Bose if I want music. If I want a drink, a bottle of JB runs about $15. I can mix my own drinks for about 1/4 what the bar charges. If I want a pretty woman to chat with me and flirt, I have my lovely wife. I got a comfortable recliner rather than a hard bar stool.

Common sense seems to me that, if you constantly get into trouble in certain places, DON'T GO THERE.
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:24 AM   #11
Ricky
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Just smile and wave boyz

I find that the best way to handle it is to be friendly. If I notice a guy giving me "that look" I smile and say Hi, How can a guy want fight when you are being nice? That being said, I seldom go to bars, the beer is cheaper at home.
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:25 AM   #12
Madcap_Magician
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Don't go stupid places, don't socialize with stupid people, and don't do stupid things.

That'll take care of just about everything.

IMHO, going to bars that are apparently not particularly rough but which people repeatedly pick fights with you is a stupid thing, and those bars are stupid places.
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:45 AM   #13
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Maybe your body language is saying you don't want to fight so they think you're safe to pick on and show off how they backed down the big dude in the bar.

Maybe do an experiment and try acting a little more aggressive and serious and see if that makes a difference.

I hate to be cliche but the old one about not the size of the dog in the fight but rather the size of fight in the dog is working against you.

I used to have a huge buddy back in my bar age days, and when we was out I noticed that he had a tendancy to shrink up when we were sitting in a place. He'd curl his shoulders forward and keep his arms in close to his sides and lean forward. I thought he was trying to look smaller so less intimidating to women. This behavior could be seen as weakness I suppose.

Interesting
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Old March 24, 2010, 09:51 AM   #14
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I think its kinda dumb to say all bars are bad places... That's kinda like saying all people who concealed carry just wana shoot someone. A few bad apples ruin it for everyone.
Some bars are great, some bars are full of 'uncool' people. Find one that you and your friends can enjoy, but returning to bars where you have repeatedly had problems isn't the smartest idea. And sometimes the difference between a good experience at a bar and a bad one isn't where you go, but when you go...

As for defusing belligerent people, unfortunately not much works on drunks as far as I can tell. I haven't read it myself (its on my wish list), but apparently Verbal Judo makes for a good read...
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Old March 24, 2010, 10:28 AM   #15
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Try layering on 3-4 pink polo shirts all with the collars "popped".

Damn hard to loom threatening like that.
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Old March 24, 2010, 11:04 AM   #16
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I'm not gonna tell you to stay out of bars... but choose the bars / clubs you visit wisely.

Oh, and don't forget to smile
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Old March 24, 2010, 11:41 AM   #17
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I used to get involved in the occasional bar fight, then I stopped drinking and I haven't been in one since.

btw my own experience was that it was either small drunk guys that wanted to fight or big guys egged on by small guys. Odd how that worked out.
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Old March 24, 2010, 12:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
I think its kinda dumb to say all bars are bad places... That's kinda like saying all people who concealed carry just wana shoot someone. A few bad apples ruin it for everyone.
Some bars are great, some bars are full of 'uncool' people.
Well, according to the OP, he isn't going to what would be considered rough bars, yet people keep picking on him for some unknown reason. Since the only place the OP claims to be having trouble is bars, then bars are what he should avoid.
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Old March 24, 2010, 01:44 PM   #19
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I think this is a really strange phenomenon, and have witnessed such events myself a number of times. The bars I tend to hang out in are your average, middle class-ish places, generally sports bars a little "better" than Buffalo Wild Wings. And for some reason, about once a month or so, some guy will start shenanigans with some "innocent bystander." I'm a "people watcher" and tend to just kinda scan the room of people, see what's going on elsewhere, and just try to be aware of my surroundings. Often times the "victim" has had no interaction with the agressor. I have only been in one very small verbal confrontation, but have never been truely involved in one of these situations. I'm about 5'10", 175#, athletic build, I'm pretty mild mannered, generally minding my own business..... What are these guys looking for when picking their "Target?"
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Old March 24, 2010, 01:58 PM   #20
H.W. French
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Bounce!

You can't fix stupid.
I worked in a bar during my college days and have seen some very stupid things go down. Always fueled by the booze. For whatever reasons folks like to brawl with you. Pick one bar you really enjoy going to. Make that the only one you go to when you decide to go out. Sit at the bar most of the time. Start with the bartenders and become friendly with eveyone that works there. Tip well. If some moron has the nerve to walk up to you while your seated at the bar do not engage them. A nod to the bartender or door guy is all it should take to have the offender removed from the situation. The guys I worked with were always happy to do this for a regular. More than likely the aggressor is always a repeat offender and has a reputation for trouble. We always knew who to keep an eye on and had a barred list two pages long! If your as big as you claim, you may even consider moonlighting as a door guy/bouncer for the establishment. We routinely hired regulars for extra "enforcement" on high volume weekends.
If you want to carry and dine, I would suggest finding a resturaunt that does NOT have a BAR. Otherwise leave the piece at home and go enjoy a brew with your buds.

Last edited by H.W. French; March 24, 2010 at 02:00 PM. Reason: pour grammar
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Old March 24, 2010, 02:38 PM   #21
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Quote:
Well, according to the OP, he isn't going to what would be considered rough bars, yet people keep picking on him for some unknown reason. Since the only place the OP claims to be having trouble is bars, then bars are what he should avoid.
Well he's obviously doing something wrong, whether its with his perceived notion that he isn't acting aggressive, or in the belief that the bars aren't "rough." I just feel that saying "stay out of bars" avoids the problem rather than fixes it.
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Old March 24, 2010, 02:48 PM   #22
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I firmly agree with French. I've always tried to find "my bar" and stick with that place. Maybe that is why I have never really found my self in too sticky of a situation. Great inside info there French, Thanks.
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Old March 24, 2010, 02:48 PM   #23
Doc Intrepid
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I carry concealed.

And I go into bars.

But I do not carry concealed when I go into bars.



Any situation where you might have to shoot someone after you'd been drinking alcohol in a bar is nearly indefensible, in nearly any courtroom that I could imagine --

"Mr X, you claim that you shot the victim after he had threatened your life.

Had you been drinking?"

"Yes"

"Is it possible that the alcohol you consumed may have impacted your ability to make decisions regarding what constituted threatening behavior?"

"(Insert answer here)"


AFAIC, shooting someone in a bar is almost always a no-win situation.

Your mileage may most definitely vary...

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Old March 24, 2010, 04:54 PM   #24
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1. Stay away from bars,period. Nothing to be gained there.

2. See #1, repeat as necessary.
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Old March 24, 2010, 05:17 PM   #25
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ZeSpectre... excellent post great advice

I've been 5-11 190 since I was 18. Been going to bars for 39 years. Never had to come to blows. Have invited a few folks outside but never inside. Without fail someone talks the drunk out of it before they go outside.

Have witnessed a few fights.

The trouble now a days is it's almost never an unarmed fight. Once upon a time in a land far far away there was a sort of code.
The buddies from both sides escorted the 2 combatants outside. They let them go at it until someone clearly had the upper hand then both sides stopped it. I have personally seen the 2 later in the night sharing a brew.

I also agree that carrying a gun in a bar or a quazi bar that serves a tiny bit of piza and a whole of beer is a very bad idea and indefenseable in the event of gun fire.
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