Exactly How to React If a Stranger Yells at You in Public

Here's the best way to keep an angry person calm and protect yourself from verbal and physical attacks.

Exactly How to React If a Stranger Yells at You in Public

Have you ever had a conflict with a stranger in public? Perhaps your shopping carts accidentally knocked into each other or a misunderstanding made the other person angry. How can you diffuse the tension and exit the situation safely? Security expert Bill Stanton has your go-to advice for keeping an angry person calm and protecting yourself in the face of verbal and physical attacks.


Bill Stanton: "It always starts with something small, like someone being too close to you, or even more common, you get bumped by a shopping cart. You want to look at their eyes first — it may reveal emotional changes. But you can't rely on just that. Look at what their trunk is doing; a person's torso will reveal their intent. Body language like raising hands, heightened expression, tense shoulders — these are natural responses to a person who is feeling threatened and will escalate. They may begin to zero in on the space between you and them, and their voice will get louder and louder. You want to read this before it gets further and becomes explosive."


Bill Stanton: "You have to give them what they need not what they want! They want you to give them permission to attack. The second you yell back or counter, that is the green light they want. But what they really need is for you to validate them, even if you are right and they are wrong! It's jarring and can stop them down. Next, raise your hands in the 'I'm sorry' position while planting your feet. Open palms in the air for them reads like you are fearful and sorry, but it also allows you to have more control if de-escalation doesn't work.


Bill Stanton: "The goal is to defend, disable, and depart — and the best way to defend is to remember the word 'GET.' It will help you get to safety.

G: Groin — If you are standing in front or if they are grabbing you, this will cause them to double over and redirect their attention. They might even go down

E: Eyes — Make hands into a claw

T: Throat — Open palm to the Adam's apple. This will cause them to put their hands on their throat. Then once they are stunned, follow up with an elbow to get them to the ground and you can flee!

The goal is to get to safety, but not everyone is physically able to do this. If you end up on the ground, cover your organs by crouching over your knees to protect your liver, heart, and kidneys, and tuck in your face."

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