How to you match the level of threat?
Military and law enforcement developed the Color Codes of Awareness as a guide to assess the level of threat in a situation and match the level of defensive action.
Color Codes of AwarenessYellow Alert – Normal Conversation, Low-Level threat
Yellow alert is a normal level of awareness to everyday non-stressful situations. For example, talking to a co-worker or cashier at a store. You remain aware of your surroundings but the situation does not require you to be hyper-vigilant or paranoid.
Orange Alert – Moderately intense threat
Orange alert happens when we perceive the level of danger rising. You need to let your intuition guide you. If you feel that gut reaction that something is wrong, then it’s time for the orange alert. Subtle cues like hard eye contact, invaded your personal space, or intimating body language may trigger your gut feeling. Orange alert is the phase when we build the barrier in our self-defense stance and assertive state to back off/ leave me alone.
Red Alert – Very intense threat on verge of physical violence
Red alert signals that we are in clear and present danger. At this phase, the aggressor is on the verge of physical violence and the chances of de-escalating the situation are slim because they are no longer listening to reason. In red alert, we are in our self-defense stance and shouting to back off/ leave me alone.
Of course, every situation is unique and these colors do not describe an exact course of action necessary. But… they provide a visual guideline to determine the level of situation. As a defender, we want to match the level of intensity of our attacker. In addition, we want to respond assertively not aggressively therefore worsening the situation.