Building on the last article where we learned about the “Situational Awareness Color Code”, this issue will talk about specifics of what you need to do to help keep you safe.
Improving your situational awareness starts with being mindful about your surroundings. Each time you enter a new environment, take a moment to identify every object in the area. Tables, chairs, trash bins, cups om a table, even walls and doors should all be recognized and placed in the back of your mind. It should only take a couple of seconds to identify the objects around you, but looking at your surroundings and acknowledging each item is an important step in developing a mindful attitude. When you’re aware of your surroundings, you can determine what can be a potential obstacle and what could be used as a weapon. Should a dangerous situation develop, you will have an advantage in using your environment around you.
This may sound overwhelming, but don’t worry because these are skills you already use on a daily basis. The first step is designed to help you expand and improve your perception of what is happening around you.
Identifying objects around you is crucial for improving your situational awareness, but it is also important to detect and observe the people around you. Watch out for agitated or nervous behavior in others. Keep an eye on people who seem to be moving outside the norm (ex. Someone wearing a heavy coat on a hot July day). You can even monitor the behavior of people you interact with every day, like coworkers. The ability to detect distress or anomalies in other people can allow you to anticipate dangerous situations, which gives you an opportunity to respond in the most effective way possible.
You’ve identified objects, you’ve monitored the people around you. Now it’s time to determine how to keep safe should a dangerous situation arise. Every time you arrive at a new location, pick out all points of entry and exit. If you have to defend yourself, you want to know how to remove yourself from the situation. Knowing how to back off from dangerous circumstances is another key connection between situational awareness and safety. You will be more secure if you can withdraw from a dangerous scenario and avoid contact with an attacker.
One of the most challenging element of situational awareness involves predicting the actions of people around you. It is a difficult to imagine future danger, but it’s one that can be practiced and enhanced with time. When you enter a new location or observe suspicious behavior, try to imagine what would happen if something went wrong. What if that drunken person suddenly became confrontational? What if the group of strangers walking toward you has bad intentions?
In each of these situations, come up one or two potential scenarios that would put you in danger, and imagine how you would deal with them.
It’s actually good practice to maintain the realistic mindset that you’re not always safe.
Situational awareness requires constant vigilance of your circumstances in order to identify issues and eventually predict problems before they arise. While it can initially feel exhausting to sustain an attentive mindset, it will eventually become a habit that requires no effort to maintain. Not paying attention to your surroundings can have dire consequences.
On a more practical level, this often means you’re going to have to exit the Facebook app and put down your phone. If you’re walking in an unfamiliar public place and staring at your text messages, you not only sacrifice your situational awareness but you are making yourself a target — attackers love oblivious targets.
Live prepared not scared.
Next time I will talk about specific steps you can take as a Realtor to keep safe while doing your job.