head down vs looking around

head down vs looking around

This is a discussion on head down vs looking around within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm not talking so far down you are watching your feet, just down so far that someone can't make easy eye contact. I've noticed something ...

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Thread: head down vs looking around

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    head down vs looking around

    I'm not talking so far down you are watching your feet, just down so far that someone can't make easy eye contact.

    I've noticed something about walking with your head down vs looking around. Someone pointed out today that on the way in and out of a building I always walk looking down, or at the very least, not looking head tall. They pointed out, that it was important to be looking around (part of a process for opening the bank I work at).

    It is a point that is often made, that if you don't want to look like a target, or that you are aware, look around.

    I pointed out to the co-worker that it was clear, as I walk, that I look in all directions, but the reason I keep my head down was to let people know not to disturb me.

    He stated that made no sense, so for lunch, we went to a mall. After several tries, sometimes head up, others head down, he had to admit that people simply get out of the way when your head is down. However when looking around, people (even more so in groups) simply expect you get out of their way, regardless of how much space they are taking up (even if unreasonable).

    I then shared again, this is why I don't always look up when walking to the bank door, if for example someone is in a car. You would be suprised how many people don't understand that when opening a bank you are not available to let them in or answer your questions. They are even more suprised when you ask then to leave (or go to the far end of the parking lot) until the branch opens.

    When I look down, I am not as approachable. When you look up, and make eye contact, conversation may follow.

    So how about a SD stance? The one message most people get out of various safety courses is to be looking around. However, it has always been my understanding the point is really look and act aware of your surroundings. I don't think looking around like a panicked animal is the best option. Look aware, move your head from time to time from side to side, but don't make eye contact unless you are being social.

    Thoughts.
    bunker and RevolvingMag like this.
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  2. #2
    Ex Member Array JOHNSMITH's Avatar
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    I used to walk with my gaze down all the time when I was younger. I think it has a lot to do with self-confidence. While I still have a lot to work on in that respect, trying to stand tall, look straight ahead, and not be afraid to look anyone in the eye has helped me. I used to think it was about watching where you were going, but actually, you can do that just as well when looking straight ahead... you just have to adjust a bit. It happens automatically - it's not something you consciously do.

    I can understand what you mean, though. People who ahve their head down appear to be "unapproachable," and so often avoid contact. People don't want to talk to people who don't want to be talked to. Think about it this way: if you had a question, and there were two cops: one who had his gaze down, hunched over, shuffling his feet, not really paying attention, etc; and then someone else who was looking straight ahead, scanning, and standing up tall while not afraid to make eye contact with you as you approach - which would you rather talk to?

    As for me, I'd still ask the hunched over guy a question, possibly, depending on the "vibe" I got from him, because it may that he's not necessarily anti-social, but was like how I was at one time. I can understand that. But I also try to get better at reading body language; oftentimes, people give unconscious signals when they don't want to be bothered. At the same time, some people are well-intentioned, but may come off as rude or unsociable. They're not really, that's just how they are. People who live in big cities and people from smaller town Florida sometimes tend to be this way. Once you get to know them a little better, though, they loosen up a lot more.

    In a SD scenario, I think it could go both ways. If you get some punk drunk whos looking for a fight, he might try to go after the "tough guy." But I think there are many more evil people who would rather prey on the weak (who they perceive to be weak). Carrying yourself with some degree of dignity and confidence (NOT arrogance!) can diffuse a lot of situations before you even get into them.

    I'm really still learning this, but it struck me that certain people just have an "air" about them once they enter a room. I couldn't figure it out, really. Oftentimes, wealthier people in a leadership position like law partners, company executives, higher ranking politicians, etc have this air. They're not always great lookign; they don't always drive fancy cars, nor do they always have fancy clothes or watches. But I think it has a lot to do with how they carry themselves and aren't afraid to visually engage anyone. If you'll notice, hooligans will often shut up and step out of the way for these kind of guys. I've also noticed I'm a bit more on guard in the sense of not saying stupid stuff or wanting to start an argument (not that I ever do, but I don't want them to misinterpret anything I say/offend them and them get upset as a result).

    I'd be willing to bet that if a BG needed some quick cash, and had a choice between me and The Rock (let's say BG didn't recognize Dwayne Johnson), he'd probably choose me.
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    That is not a look that says "come mug me"...

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    Senior Member Array bunker's Avatar
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    This is one of the best threads i have read in a long long time. I think it is very important to carry yourself with head high, and show potential BG's that you are aware of your surroundings. SA is an excellent tool, and should be used daily. It is probably just as important as punching the ten ring on paper with your gun. Since i have been carrying, i have made eye contact when my SA goes up... as the original poster said, not to the point of aggression, but definately to the point where i am prepared for any aggessive motion towards myself or family. I think it DOES send a message to the BG! Bunker
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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    I prefer the head up approach, that shows my awareness. I make eye contact, but it is passing so no disrespect is normally taken. For those looking for trouble/disrespect, it will not matter if eye contact is made or not, they will find something to offend them. Then an apology, warranted or not, and if they push it, go from there.
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    Member Array Wynn's Avatar
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    Heads up for me, and a "'hows it goin?' or 'whats up guys?'" when approaching somebody or groups. Personally, I believe making eye contact is a good thing, and I give a firm, confident response when approached by somebody who gives me a bad vibe

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array NC Bullseye's Avatar
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    The reason that people avoid you when you approach with your head down is they are the ones that are alert and avoiding someone who doesn't appear to be aware they are running a collision course with approaching traffic. You get the same treatment as the teen that is engrossed in texting while walking the mall. Everyone has to initiate the anti-collision maneuver.

    Heads up, eye contact, acknowledge, there is no need to entertain prolonged conversation. You loose much of your peripheral vision with a head down attitude.

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    I agree, that eye contact can be important, letting the BG know you see them. As Wynn post, I often make very brief eye contact when say walking, and say "hi there" with a quick smile. So I guess I'm not the strong silent type. However there is just something about me, when I make eye contact any longer then brief, that makes people think I'm approachable. I find this a problem just as often with nice people as with potential trouble makers.

    When I'm at a retail store, no matter how I'm dressed, people ask me questions thinking I'm an employee. At car dealerships, they think I'm a salesperson. At a concert, often I can just walk past ushers, to better seats. At a bar, people think I've been there a few times, when I've never been there before. I'm just comfortable or something.

    While in polite society, this is just who I am, but is SD situations, when potential BG want to chat it up, I've just learned to keep eye contact sharp and quick. One time, my brother and I were at a coin / bullion dealer. As we walked out, this guy was about to approach us (I think to preach his version of God). That is all fine and good, and it is not like I don't mind someone evangelizing, nor am I a big spender. Simply that ounce or two of silver I just purchased makes me a less willing to have a chat on the street.

    I'm 5ft 9in (just found out a few months ago that middle age has taken over an inch on me me), and my brother shy of 6 ft. We are both about the same when it comes to eye contact. Eyes minding their own business, but a sharp quick look sent this guy back peddling from 15 feet away. My brother felt some guilt about it.

    So maybe it is just me. If you are someone average looking, a bit soft on the edges, with that everybody's pal and here to help sort of look, eye contact is a tricky thing. My stare down comes of as I would love to have a long chat about something stranger. The only advantage is when I give the vibe, leave me be. It is so out of the range of appearence expectation, I'm left alone.
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    I worked as a teller at a bank for 5 years while putting myself through college. I think I would have to agree with your coworker. I can understand not wanting to be bothered, but, I don't think ignoring the customer is the way to handle it. This type of situation never really came up for us, this was our basic opening procedure:

    1) Drive around the bank slowly, look through the windows to see if anyone is inside.
    2) Let the supervisor enter the bank and do a walk around-inside.
    3) Wait for the supervisor's "all-clear" signal.
    4) Then approach the bank.

    We rarely had anyone waiting. If they were, they were usually sitting in the drive-thru. If someone was standing at the door and I did not know them, I would just walk to a different door to avoid any problems. If that wasn't an option, I would just inform them that the bank wasn't open yet. Really, working at a bank you're in a customer service position. It's not good from a business standpoint to be "unapproachable." I would suggest just telling the person sitting in the car waiting for the bank to open that has questions to "please wait, I'll be happy to help you when we're open at 9am," etc.

    Personally, I always walk head up and taking in my surroundings. I have noticed the "large group not moving out the of the way" phenomena when I have my head up. If it's on a sidewalk and I'm on the edge already, I'll just keep walking in my "lane". If they don't move over, I will walk until I can't anymore and then just stop and stand there--make them go around me.

    I think making eye contact is an important way of communicating to someone that you aren't a potential victim. I do not give mean stares, but I think a moment's glance can tell a BG you're not worth pursuing. Posture, attitude and body language say a lot about a person.

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    Quick story.

    I was working tonight. I've said repeatedly, not in the best part of town. It's about 11 pm and I have the large door open because I have to get things that needed to be left outside till then. It's a street level door. I have had folks just waltz right in before. So I am always a bit more alert when it's open.

    So I go outside, walking real quick and pushing a large handtruck. As I turn right out the door I notice movement. And immediately go into mental "Oh crap" mode. There is a guy coming out from behind the dumpster, dark pants and hoodie pulled up. My head was kind of down, to watch where I was going. I never even let up, or raised my head. But I kept my eyes cut to the left to keep him in my peripheral vision. I grabbed the stack of stuff and started backing into the building. "Oh crap" 2.0!!! Another guy, dressed similarly is now coming out from behind the dumpster. At this point they are both heading towards the road. So I move my stuff where it needs to go, then move back to the door. They had moved on. Since there was more stuff to get, I put my OC spray in my hand and made a point to look around a bit more.

    Distance between us was about 20-25 yrds. Close enough to be uncomfortable. Why did I not stop, look, or say anything? Because I don't want to start a conversation that ends with them coming closer and asking for something, which is where that normally goes. So I went about my business and tried to keep an eye on them without them knowing whether I was or not. They know they are not supposed to be there, and seemed to be moving along. Saying anything or acknowledging their presence would have just stopped them. Not what I wanted. If he would have made a move towards me, that would have changed in a hurry.

    For me it depends. Generally up looking around. But I got kind of good at looking around without looking like I was looking around and at previous job.
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    VIP Member Array packinnova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xader View Post


    That is not a look that says "come mug me"...
    No, that's the waiting in the TSA line..."You want me to do what?"
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    In my honest opinion looking down is a sign of insecurity and/or someone that has their mind elsewhere not what is going on around them. It goes back to gradeschool, the kid that got picked on usually walks the halls with his head down hoping to avoid anyone with the only thoughts of getting from point A to point B. In the animal world, animals that have their heads down arent paying attention, look at a deer eating in a field whats the first thing it does when it hears or smells something? It lifts its head up high and you can tell its alert. With cattle, when I ride pastures looking for sick ones one with its head down stands out and is a sign that it is sick meaning its weaker than the others and thats the one I catch.

    You can agree or disagree but if I had to pick the weaker target its going to be the one with its head down.

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    Distinguished Member Array RevolvingMag's Avatar
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    I usually have my head down, but still up enough that I can see what's going on around me. I keep my head down, look up enough to make eye-contact, then back to where I was. I'm not rude, I'm not approachable; everyone wins.

    I work at Pep-Boys, in the service department. We keep the doors open because it's hot, and for convenience, but we put the yellow plastic chains up across the bay entrances. I've gotten very good at keeping my head down enough to keep people from approaching (instead of going to the service desk like they are supposed to; like they KNOW they are supposed to), but still up enough to know that they are there. And that they are being ignored until they go through the proper channels. This helps with the people that are just too lazy to go inside. But then there are the people that don't pay any attention to/take down the chains to come into the shop. Those get eye contact until they realize that 'this' isn't where they belong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC Bullseye View Post
    The reason that people avoid you when you approach with your head down is they are the ones that are alert and avoiding someone who doesn't appear to be aware they are running a collision course with approaching traffic. You get the same treatment as the teen that is engrossed in texting while walking the mall. Everyone has to initiate the anti-collision maneuver.

    Heads up, eye contact, acknowledge, there is no need to entertain prolonged conversation. You loose much of your peripheral vision with a head down attitude.
    You are spot on! I always think that those types of people are idiots who are not paying attention. There are just enough people who really are not paying attention to make you on edge. Please see a perfect example of what having your head down will do for you.

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    Senior Member Array Tala's Avatar
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    I don't think you have to walk around with your head spinning to keep a good view on everyone. The key is to look further ahead. By the time you're in the parking lot you should already have seen anyone hanging around or parked in your lot (drive around the building, etc.) By looking further ahead you get a wider angle view on things
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