Always choose your battles well, but be prepared for battle, always.
My work sometimes requires me to knock on people’s doors. Last Friday evening, I knocked. The door swung open and I was met by an oversized teenage male acknowledging me with a grunt.
Avert eye contact and tilt head away.
This gave rise to an awkward silence which I ended up filling with a nervous clearing of my own throat. Hesitant to make eye-contact I looked down at the large envelope I was carrying and asked him if the home owner was in. “No” came the mono-syllabic response which made its way, sloth-like, crossing the ether and travelling into my ears.
After explaining that I had an appointment with his mum and dad, his buddy, even-taller and more physically imposing teenager stomped up the hallway until he was a mere hairs breadth away from me. He loomed forwards like a territorial lion. In just under 12 seconds I had become outnumbered by ‘dumb and dumberer’. Luckily, I’m gifted when it comes to reading people.
Sometimes the bigger man is the one who submits.
I avoided eye-contact so as not to set them off. Subconsciously they read this as a sign that they had won the status battle. After all, they were at the threshold of their cave and had prevented me from entering, whilst also making themselves appear bigger by standing tall, chests heaved out. Conversely I appeared to shrink by shrugging my shoulders and dropping my elbows into my body. They had not done anything to justify an immediate violent reaction from me.
You can deceive a person into thinking they have dominance easily.
My posture was designed to make it harder for them to read a telegraph from my arms if I launched an aggressive attack, should I need to spring forwards, fists poised. My aversion to their gaze resulted in a drop of my chin, which they also construed as a submissive gesture; a strategy that I have played out thousand’s of times in my mind’s eye. My lowered chin gave me good spinal alignment, which would make it harder for them to secure a knock out if any part of my plan backfired.
Despite not looking at them directly, I was perfectly aware of every nuance in their body position’s and prepared for any sudden shift, the data being collected by my peripheral awareness.
Always look for an edge over your opponent. The sharper the better.
I stared down at my right hand which was firmly holding a platinum edition Mont Blanc pen. I moved it causing the pen to shimmer as its hardened, metallic body and needle ink tip caught the light. They had little choice but to look at it, as their fixation reflex had encoded a genetic predisposition to track movement. I wanted them to see the pen. Because as soon as they saw it, they would have acknowledged the way in which it was being gripped, hinting a threat. By this stage they both realized that I had come armed. They hadn’t.
The one who plays the coward may not actually be the fool.