The second time I was almost mugged I was able to talk my way out of it. As I walked down 30th Ave towards Mission Street to walk to BART (a mass transit train) I noticed two guys cross the street to intercept me. One came up and one fell behind. I was half expecting the one who approached me to ask for my number, instead he told me that I was going to give him all my money or he would shoot me. I told him that in that case he was going to be really disappointed, because I didn’t have any. I pointed out that I was walking to BART because I couldn’t afford to take MUNI (the bus) and maybe he should look for someone taking a cab. He told me that he was in trouble because he owed some guy a lot of money. I told him that I was sorry I couldn’t help him and that I was in a lot of debt too. I wished him good luck and offered him my hand for a handshake. After he accepted it and both guys took off I was hit with an adrenaline rush. I almost couldn’t believe what happened. I hadn’t deceived the attempted robber, but I had shifted the paradigm.
There are other examples of how a paradigm shift has changed dangerous situations and given the dangerous person a chance to alter their intended course. Will it always work? Almost nothing ‘always’ works. But, it may help to consider redirection when things are taking a bad turn. When you can present someone ‘an out’ or a way to exit gracefully without losing face there is a greater chance that they will take it. If you can make a connection with someone either through commonality or though basic human touch, they may see you as a person instead of a target.