Situational Awareness

In training last night, we started to work a little on situational awareness. The idea is to be aware of what is going on around you, what the situation is and being in some way prepared. If you are in a bubble your awareness is limited to that bubble. I have mentioned previously that we are in fact in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. You can see them everywhere with glazed downcast eyes, the ‘phone zombies are taking over. Are you one? If so watch out for the lamppost….. Yes, that lamppost!

Although I am an “obese” middle aged man, I am also built like a brick shit house. It looks like I do weights and there is a tendency for those who do to be aware of others. In Brussels once, when I was actually doing a lot of weights, the wife and I walked past a “Turkish-looking” guy who was stacked and he “checked me out”. I explained to the wife that people who lift sometimes do that and he was perhaps making a critique in his mind. He didn’t want a fight, nor fancy me, nor did he want to rob us, he was simply making an assessment. I could easily have gotten the entire wrong end of the stick, but I am pretty sure that was all which was going on. His eyes were trained to spot, and he was perhaps in the training business. Our awarenesses only interacted for a few seconds and we had some kind of an exchange that was not hostile but yet assessing.

Similarly, once on Bond Street in London, where there are some very expensive jewellery shops, I had an exchange with one of the security guards. When I go into the city, I am always more alert. As I walk along I tend to scan without overly focussing. I caught the eye of the security guard and he mine. He was watching the crowd, looking for any risks. In that instant he, probably being ex-forces trained, made an assessment. He noticed that I noticed, and we exchanged a kind of unspoken “glint” if you like. Being situationally aware, he noted and decided that I was not a robber.

These are two very simple examples of situational awareness, and perception in action. Now If I look at people with the same level of awareness that interacted with the security guard, it can freak them out, but not him. They can get “scared” or at least a little agitated, without knowing exactly why. It is a little beyond their experience.

Now I have a notion that situational awareness isn’t all that high, in most. This is partly because they are not fully present in the moment. They may think that they are aware, but there may be a whole lot going on which they might be missing.

Having cued this up:

How would you rate your level of situational awareness; low, somewhere in the middle or high?

Can you shift this level of awareness?