The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old April 7, 2012, 07:42 PM   #1
RBid
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 10, 2012
Posts: 1,054
Defensive Theory: Smile, as a 'First Resort'.

I wanted to take a bit to put this down, and to see what sorts of response this gets. It is something that I genuinely believe, I do every day, and I am raising my kids to do.

Smile.

I. Disarm

Ia) De-stress.

Try this, if you feel the need:

Make extended eye contact with someone. Don't smile.

Now make extended eye conctact, and add a smile.

If you don't smile, and people recognize that you are looking at them, they often elevate, in terms of tension. Whether they are self conscious, agitated, anxious, or mistrustful, that mood is very likely to get worse, even if only a little.

On the other hand, if you smile at someone in any of those states, it may very well serve to lift their spirits, at least a little.

Ib) Dissuade.

Smiling at someone is a basic connection, on a person-to-person basis. It humanizes you, and presents the opportunity for someone to view you in a positive light. Generally speaking, people have a harder time harming people with whom they have identified, even in a small way. There are those to whom this doesn't apply, but they are an extreme minority. Consequently, if you establish even a brief moment of connection, you may reduce the will of the other person to harm you.

1c) Disarm

Another general truth is that people like the path of least resistance. Establishing eye contact is an indication of being self assured. In a very subtle way, this marks you as "not meek".


II. Recon

IIa) Cover

Interestingly, smiling at someone is generally perceived as a reason to make eye contact with them. It is a 'get out of jail free' card, when looking at just about anybody. Flashing that smile affords you a moment to study somebody.

IIb) Reading Response

When you smile at someone, their reaction will instantly provide you with information about their emotional state. If you have any social aptitude whatsoever, you should be able to recognize indicators of tension.



In practice:

You have a concealed carry license, and are in 'code yellow'. You're on your way to a restaurant in the city, and have to walk a few blocks from where you park. While you're walking, about a block away from a higher visibility/lower threat area, someone walking toward you on the sidewalk looks up a little.

You look right at them, smile, nod, and say, "Howdy", or similar.

At this point, a potential 'bad guy' knows:

1) you have just extended kindness to him. This is often a rare treat, for people who live rough lives.
2) you're not overtly timid
3) you know what he looks like, before he has had a chance to do anything incriminating.
4) you are going to be paying attention to him, even as you both continue walking, because a response may be forthcoming.

...and YOU know:

1) what he looks like
2) a ballpark emotional state, based on his reaction to your smile/greeting
3) you are *expected* to pay attention to him, during the typical period of time in which a response would be forthcoming. At a normal walking speed, by the time pleasantries have been exchanged, you are passing each other.



Thoughts?

If you feel like I'm an idiot, please be gentle. I'll be receptive to constructive criticism, and I respect differing opinions.
__________________
Currently Own: Beretta PX4 9mm, Glock 23 (Gen 4), Glock 19 (Gen 4) x2
RBid is offline  
Old April 7, 2012, 07:57 PM   #2
pax
Staff
 
Join Date: May 16, 2000
Location: Washington state
Posts: 6,917
In practice, this advice sounds good for men, but I suspect there are a few too many caveats for women.

Trust me on this one: smiling at strangers, eye contact or no, is a good way for a woman to unintentionally invite unwanted attention from guys.

A vaguely-pleasant look, while taking care to always break eye contact to the side rather than down, tends to be (in my experience anyway) a somewhat more reliable way to make those assessments without drawing an unintended response.

Kathy
__________________
Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
pax is offline  
Old April 7, 2012, 08:25 PM   #3
bob.a
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 298
My four-year-old granddaughter is into martial arts, has some kind of colorful belt. In competitions, she told me she likes to give a really sweet smile to her opponent, before attempting to clobber him/her. She feels it gives her several advantages.

I don't think you're an idiot.

I do think that a smile can be misinterpreted; also if it meets the "stink eye" and falters, you lose points. Aside from that, it all seems of interest.
bob.a is offline  
Old April 7, 2012, 11:08 PM   #4
kilimanjaro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2009
Posts: 1,772
Al Capone said you could get much farther with a kind word and a gun than just a gun.
kilimanjaro is offline  
Old April 7, 2012, 11:19 PM   #5
wun_8_seven
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 17, 2002
Posts: 192
Nah, just shot em in the face
wun_8_seven is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 12:25 AM   #6
TheNocturnus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 29, 2011
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,093
I always look passers by in the eye when I walk or drive around. I usually offer a kind smile and a "hello" if we are alone. In the store I just offer a brief look of confidence to passers by. I don't stare it's just a glance to let them know I am aware of them. It's a mental game for me.

When driving I have a habit of looking at people driving past me in the eye, most are totally oblivious but some offer varied responses. Some smile, some give a dirty look, some look scared, some just offer an empty stare, some even flip me off... it's happened several times.

So RBid I believe there is something to be said about a smile in an awkward or normal social encounter. You hit it right on the nose. You are teaching your kids a great lesson.
__________________
My EDC:
Gun
Wallet
Brain (Use this one the most)
TheNocturnus is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 10:02 AM   #7
Tuzo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2007
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 723
Your proposal, which is something you "believe in," is an assumption and does not take into account the thinking of others. In general, people ask "why?" or "how can they?" when confronted with behavior that is not understood. The simple answer is: they do not think the way we, you, us, I think. We do not live in an ideal world where people act as we expect them to act.

I live in suburban Louisiana where a smile or hi to strangers in Walmart is not unusual. But in parts of New Orleans that may not be a wise thing to do.

Cornered Cat has a good evaluation of your premise.
Tuzo is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 10:27 AM   #8
Glenn E. Meyer
Staff
 
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Posts: 15,613
Pax is correct (as always ) - I have an psych journal article somewhere that men evaluate pleasantries from women as far more sexual than intended.
__________________
NRA, TSRA, IDPA, NTI, Polite Soc.
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...05_Feature.htm
Being an Academic Shooter
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...11_Feature.htm
Being an Active Shooter
Glenn E. Meyer is online now  
Old April 8, 2012, 11:32 AM   #9
locnload
Member
 
Join Date: February 20, 2010
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 94
RBid, I believe in your theory, and although I have never really put that much thought into it, it is just in my nature to look at people, smile, and say howdy, good morning, or some generic pleasantry. But yes, it immediately establishes that you are alert, oriented, and paying attention. Just exactly what criminals do not want in a potential victim.
I also agree that women live under a different set of guidelines, and need to be careful about being perceived as "sending signals". Face it, we men are pigs deep down inside, most of us keep a lid on it and behave as honorable gentlemen, but there are some who will vigorously pursue any attractive female, eye contact or not. I think the idea of brief eye contact and looking away tells us a woman is aware of someone in their space but not interested in a date.
Always try friendly first, the world would be a much better place if we all just lighten up and be nice. This does not mean you should be naive, unprepared, or overly trusting of strangers, just don't go through life like you're navigating behind enemy lines.
locnload is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 05:22 PM   #10
BGutzman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 4, 2009
Location: Frozen Tundra
Posts: 2,414
As I learned from many deployments in service.... Someone (an adult or older teenager) starts eyeballing you smile or not you likely have or are going to have a problem...Its both culture and person dependent... My level of awareness and attention may actually go up.. Not sure I include smile as a defensive measure...

If you do need to draw for your legal defense it may be a lot more useful to throw whatever you have in your hands to distract them as you try to retreat and draw.
__________________
Molon Labe
BGutzman is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 07:05 PM   #11
dayman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 18, 2011
Location: The Woods
Posts: 1,059
I agree with the OP's premise. Watchful, but friendly. A smile is a great way to let someone know that you see them without being confrontational.
Pretty much all of the time the other guy's just some slob going about his life.
Though that comes from the perspective of being a 6' 230lb tattooed weightlifter - I'd agree that smiling at strange men might not be a great conflict avoidance strategy for the ladies.
dayman is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 07:36 PM   #12
Vermonter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 17, 2010
Posts: 954
Eye Contact

The whole thing about eye contact is that folks usually are expecting something after. I tend to do the nod and slight smile. This hopefully does not come off creepy even to the ladies. I think this puts folks at general ease and still shows a potential threat awarness.

With Kindest Regards, Vermonter
Vermonter is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 08:02 PM   #13
skifast
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 19, 2008
Posts: 226
I agree with Pax that women shouldn't.

I thinkit has some merit for men. A bad guy is looking for an east target. They play on fear and intimidation. If you smile and come across you ain't so bad, it will give the bad guy a second thought. On the other hand, if it is a nervous "I would like to teach the world to sing, mamby pamby" smile, then it won't do much.
skifast is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 09:49 PM   #14
aparootsa
Member
 
Join Date: March 29, 2009
Posts: 72
I think this is a good way to go; I've been doing the "smile and nod/greet" thing for years. When I was in Boston, that was typical; here in Denver there's usually a greeting thrown in 'cause that's how people are. Style has a huge impact on how this comes across (from ladies and gents alike); since most of communication is non-verbal, the rest of how you look and act while you make eye contact can make the same greeting range from a come-on to carefree to threatening.

In general I like it as a cultural pursuit as well; the more connected people feel to others they pass on the street in general, the less likely they are to run afoul of social norms. Most criminals, especially young ones, are for the most part normal folks and don't really want to think about the harm they do. The more personally they feel connected to those they're considering wronging, the less they're likely to do so.
aparootsa is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 10:05 PM   #15
Glockstar .40
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 18, 2012
Location: West of the Rockies
Posts: 368
I like your method. they sound right on. i do agree with pax though that for woman the eye contact and a smile might backfire.
Glockstar .40 is offline  
Old April 8, 2012, 10:34 PM   #16
Nnobby45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 20, 2004
Posts: 3,148
Quote:
In practice, this advice sounds good for men, but I suspect there are a few too many caveats for women.

Trust me on this one: smiling at strangers, eye contact or no, is a good way for a woman to unintentionally invite unwanted attention from guys.

A vaguely-pleasant look, while taking care to always break eye contact to the side rather than down, tends to be (in my experience anyway) a somewhat more reliable way to make those assessments without drawing an unintended response.

Kathy
In practice, this advice sounds good for men, but I suspect there are a few too many caveats for women.

Trust me on this one: smiling at strangers, eye contact or no, is a good way for a woman to unintentionally invite unwanted attention from guys.

A vaguely-pleasant look, while taking care to always break eye contact to the side rather than down, tends to be (in my experience anyway) a somewhat more reliable way to make those assessments without drawing an unintended response.

Kathy
Good analysis.

And a friendly gesture to a stranger, in some parts of my community, can easily generate a panhandlers's request for a hand out--men included, and burden you with the matter of getting rid of him--easier with some than others.

Don't remember who gave the advice: When on the "street" be polite to everyone and friendly to no one. Maybe it was Walt Rausch, but that sounds like good advice for women and men too.

The point: Might need different rules for different environments. Just going for a walk can take you into different "behavior" zones. Being too friendly or not friendly enough can focus the wrong kind of attention on us.

Now, as a psychology experiment, RBid's ideas sound interesting.

Last edited by Nnobby45; April 8, 2012 at 11:02 PM.
Nnobby45 is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 01:10 PM   #17
Overhill
Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 95
I agree with this premise except; A smile through the window at another driver can very easilly result in a misunderstanding and eventual road rage.
__________________
How come, guns don't go off "accidentally" when no one is around?
Overhill is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 04:24 PM   #18
RBid
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 10, 2012
Posts: 1,054
Thank you for the discussion, so far.

The feedback about how this might play out for women makes a lot of sense. I can certainly see the validity of those points.
__________________
Currently Own: Beretta PX4 9mm, Glock 23 (Gen 4), Glock 19 (Gen 4) x2
RBid is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 10:30 PM   #19
treg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 26, 2006
Posts: 1,020
Thanks for the post. I am a natural non-smiler that has to work at smiling. Your points are valid, thanks for the reminder.
__________________
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - John Wayne

.44 Special: For those who get it, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
treg is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 10:55 PM   #20
Jeremiah/Az
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2009
Location: Az.
Posts: 509
I give a slight smile & slight nod to most anyone that makes eye contact. Most smile back, but I'm an old man, not a physical threat to man or woman anymore! I have noticed that some women will not make eye contact, probably for some of the reasons mentioned.
Jeremiah/Az is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 11:50 PM   #21
Frank Ettin
Staff
 
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 6,642
Quote:
Originally Posted by kilimanjaro
Al Capone said you could get much farther with a kind word and a gun than just a gun.
Actually, I believe it was reputed that he said, "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. "
__________________
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 06:30 PM   #22
Deaf Smith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 31, 2000
Location: Texican!
Posts: 3,227
For most people if you treat them with respect, bit of eye contact and a nod, that will get you by, even with most gangs. All you are doing when you give a nod is showing you recognize they exist and that is a bit of respect. No big smile, no downward eyes, or anything like that for being subservient can invite attack if they want to score points with their fellow gang members or chicks. And the same time as you nod don't fold your arms or put your hands on your hips (a sign of challenge or contempt.)

BUT, sociopaths and psychopaths don't respond to any of that. To them that's a sign of weakness, and as Clint Smith said, "if you look like food (that is look weak) you will be eaten."

And woe be if you encounter a gang on the warpath. Many young don't see the consequences of what they do and they can turn on you in a flash. If they are out for a wilding they won't care if you nod or smile or even beg.

So if you intend to smile alot then Capone, and Teddy Roosevelt, were right.

Speak softly and carry a big stick.

Deaf
__________________
"The government has confiscated all of our rights and is selling them back to us in the form of permits."
Deaf Smith is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 06:54 PM   #23
Frank Ettin
Staff
 
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 6,642
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Smith
...sociopaths and psychopaths don't respond to any of that. ...

And woe be if you encounter a gang on the warpath...
I think this point, and the points others have made, is that gestures like a smile of nod, can be tools; and like other tools they need to be used at the proper times for the proper purposes and in the correct circumstances. It's helpful when part of our social development includes learning to read situations and the attitudes of others.
__________________
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 07:00 PM   #24
MLeake
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 15, 2007
Location: Outside KC, MO
Posts: 10,128
it also helps to know the differences in local gestures. A thumb's up or an ok sign have very different meanings in parts of the middle east, for example, and might initiate hostilities.
MLeake is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 10:04 PM   #25
CaptainObvious
Junior member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2012
Posts: 73
I disagree with the smiling approach. You never know how a smile will be interpreted. Someone might believe you are laughing or making fun of them while others might think you are being a wiseass. It will also make you appear as a soft target. When in doubt, the poker face of indifference is the best way to go.

Of course, in everyday interactions smiling works pretty well, but if we are talking about how to act in a situation of dealing with a questionable individual then I wouldnt be smiling. In fact, sometimes its even best to look annoyed and to scowl. If I were drawing a firearm on someone, you are not going to see me be courteous. In fact, I will be swearing and talking aggressively as that kind of language simply works in the self defense situation.

There is a good reason why you see police officers get mean in a self defense situation. Although it doesnt look good for the youtube video, it is a self defensive measure that works. You become a harder target then officer smiley and there is less of a chance the bad guy is going to challenge you.
CaptainObvious is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13008 seconds with 7 queries