Why do you need to learn how to be street smart? Because there's more to life than having fancy degrees and years of education. This article strips bare some of the basic things you need to remember to survive and succeed in all walks of life whether it is a classroom, college dorm, workplace, relationship or simply while taking a walk down the street, by being street smart. Men, women, guys, girls, couples, children and the elderly – Gender no bar and age no bar, everyone is free to take tips.
Note: Everyone knows not to venture out in the streets of a bad neighborhood. Everyone knows not to get into unnecessary fist fights. Everyone knows that they must keep their valuables and other personal belongings closely guarded. These are day to day tips and not what we're here for primarily, however we will brush up on them at the end of this article.
For now, let's pick up some of the basic emotional, psychological and behavioral lessons of life and incorporate them into our own. For each tip, there is no magic wand that Princesswithapen can wave to make you street smart instantly. You will need to actively implement them in your daily routine and make them a part and parcel of your overall personality and way of life. While you may not get a gold medal or a fancy certificate for learning these tips, you may save yourself from harm, financial loss, injury or even death.
1) Stop being nice all the time
While being nice to people around you is a good thing, being nice all the time is a trait or a habit that can come back and bite you in the behind. Why? It's quite simple. There is always someone who is lurking around the corner to take advantage of your niceness. Any overtly nice school kid will tell you how his niceness made him let go of his lunch box every second day to please the school bully. Any overtly nice professional will tell you how they are putting in long hours at work just because they want to please their bosses. Any friend will tell you how others took advantage and got him/her to drive them around town all the time. You get the point, don't you?
What you can do to be street smart: Don't stop being nice to people. Just stop thinking that being nice to everyone you meet is an obligation. It is okay if you come out to be rude, once in a while. Stop carrying that fake smile around town and you'll be fine.
2) Carry a confident posture
If someone tells you that body language is the be all and end all of a first impression, believe them. And the most important element of projecting a good body language is a great posture. Carrying a confident posture will project you as a strong and levelheaded personality. Now no one wants to mess around with a strong personality, don't you think?
What you can do to be street smart: Start by keeping a straight back and walking with a zing in your step. Stop slouching and walk with your head held up high. A confident posture will get you places, literally.
3) Speak properly and manage your conversations well
No, you don't need to train to be a fantastic orator like Mr. Obama himself, but you should learn how to speak properly. Being street smart is all about navigating through the sticky corners of life and managing conversations is one of them. How many times are we all faced with having a conversation or argument with an annoying friend or an arrogant boss? You must learn how to remain calm and work your way through a messy conversation to have your way with people.
What you can do to be street smart: Being practical, we all know that you are not going to become a star converser overnight. Start by speaking loudly, clearly and not talking too fast. Think before you speak and remember - Once the words come out of your mouth, they can't be taken back.
4) Stop trusting everyone around you
The most vital element of the mindset of a person who is street smart is that they refrain from trusting the motives of everyone around them. In day to day life, especially when you are in a good mood, it is very easy to get carried away and believe that everyone around you means well for you. In reality, chances of that happening are very slim. The 21st century is all about winning the rat race and everyone is out to make a buck, the good way or the bad way. And if making a buck involves betray your trust, you better start believing that even your most trusted associates will not blink an eyelid before doing so. Yes, we all are aware that trust is one of the basic foundations on which relationships and humanity in general functions. But don't take trust for granted.
What you can do to be street smart: To become street smart, start questioning the motives of people you meet. Don't be overtly judgmental or suspicious, but be aware and don't start trusting someone too soon.
5) Don't be afraid to say no
The best of us fall into the trap of not being able to say no, when it matters the most. Regret, is one of the worst feelings and not saying no at the right time can immerse you into a pool of gloom later on. While you may think "Oh what if I sound too rude", well, too bad. If you don't learn to say no today, you will regret it tomorrow. Learning how to be street smart is all about pushing the boundaries and maintaining a fine balance between giving others what they want while protecting your own interests.
What you can do to be street smart: If you are in a situation you don't want to be in or you are being coerced into doing something you don't want to do, simply put your foot down and say no.
6) Learn to hide your emotions
You really don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that the things you say are not the only indicators of your emotional condition. From the way you walk and talk to the way you behave, your expressions and your body language are going to reveal how you feel, just like how an open book would lay bare the script to a reader. In this case, a person out to con you may very well be the reader while you may be the open book.
What you can do to be street smart: Learn how to hide your emotions and practice on a daily basis. Don't get nervous easily and try to be calm even in the most nerve wracking situations. Yes, it is easier said than done. But if Kim Kardashian can be a household name, you can learn how to hide your emotions and become street smart.
7) Learn to trust and accept your gut feeling
"The thought crossed my mind. But I didn't do it. Although I wish I had. Life would've been different" This thought is a classic example of what happens when we refuse to trust our gut instinct. If you are in a street corner and you see a few not-so-friendly guys hanging out and your heart tells you to bolt out of there, bolt out. The last thing you want is to regret not bolting out while you are sitting in a wheelchair because of an unprovoked attack on that street corner.
What you can do to be street smart: Learn to trust and accept your gut feeling. While that may seem risky in the start, you will soon develop a habit of having the right gut feeling most of the time.
8) Be very wary of people who are just too friendly
A guy may thank his stars if he bumps into an overtly friendly beautiful girl at a pub. A girl may think that today was written in the heavens above if she happens to meet a single billionaire who wants to take her to Paris for a dinner date. While these make for picture perfect moments, the reality of life is that they are generally anything but picture perfect. People who are too friendly towards you may have malicious intentions. Watch out!
What you can do to be street smart: If a random stranger or a not-so-close acquaintance seems to be overtly friendly or just too nice, be on your guard. Always remember, there are no free lunches in life. And if someone is making an offer which seems too good to be true, it probably isn't.
9) Remember your skills and talents and use them where necessary
Are you a black belt in Karate? Have you taken kickboxing lessons? Do you have an outstanding IQ? Do you have splendid oratory skills? Are you a literary genius? Do you have a natural knack for making sales? Do you have any other skill that can help you in a situation of distress or simply get an upper hand during an argument or discussion? If you do, use your skill at every single opportunity you get in life. People who are street smart are not unique nor are them made from a different material from outer space. All they do is utilize their skills, talents and abilities to the fullest and to their advantage. And no prizes for guessing here, you should do the same too.
What you can do to be street smart: Whether it is pinning a work colleague down in an argument with your out of the world knowledge or pinning a would be attacker down with your out of the world karate skills, use your skill to gain the upper hand in every corner and at every moment in life.
Day to day tips on being street smart
- Avoid venturing into unsafe neighborhoods even if it means a longer commute
- Be aware of your personal belongings when you step out of the house
- If an argument or confrontation is not worth the hassle, move on
- Always hold on tightly to your valuables
- Don't be afraid to raise an alarm
- Remember the places and people you can go to if you need help
- Most importantly, start putting into practice the psychological side of learning how to be street smart that we discussed earlier – After all, practice makes perfect!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 27, 2012:
This is a very useful hub packed full of good suggestions to function more safely in this world. I always trust my gut, but you did give me some things to consider. Rated up.
Max Havlick from Villa Park, Illinois on February 25, 2012:
Hi Karla, thank you for the kind note. I can resist anything but response.
First no. 2, why the "obviously"?! You didn't offend me at all. I actually enjoy a challenge to my ideas (the adventurous "male" in me??).
As for no. 1, I agree fully with you that men generally think "that the world is a much safer place than women generally see it." I can see how sensitive, alert modern women are leery of the difference! And extensive social science does support it as a fact, like a host of many other legitimate diffs betw. men and women in general that relate to role characteristics developed over the past several million years or so (unless religious beliefs cut you off from the evolutionary science of physical anthropology). Not just the Mars-Venus stuff, but "Why Men Don't Listen, and Women Can't Read Maps," etc., the list seems endless.
You come across as an experienced person, Karla, and friendly, to say the least, and who could deny your eloquent words on personal safety? "Princess with a Pen" gave that same idea but in a harsher framework, or so it seemed to me (to make my original point one last time).
Thank you again for the kind response. Perhaps we'll meet again.
Karla Iverson from Oregon on February 24, 2012:
Hello again, Max. Woman-behind-the-mask here. Too often I see men thinking that the world is a much safer place than women generally see it, of necessity for our safety. As I've obviously offended you, my apologies.
I am an experienced person, too, and as I said above, I'm very friendly with people. However, until a person finds that point where he or she feels safe, it's better to be more reserved than to not be aware enough about personal safety.
My name is Karla. Happy to meet you.
Max Havlick from Villa Park, Illinois on February 24, 2012:
No, woman-behind-a-mask, I didn't miss the point at all; I'm a very careful reader and re-reader. This is an excellent hub, with much good advice, and all of it may work for many people (women or men), and no doubt does. I don't question that.
But some of the hub's advice would appear too harsh and impersonal for myself and a lot of other experienced people (women and men) who have learned to live safely with a somewhat gentler, more positive approach to people and life in general, which I tried briefly to describe.
I meant no offense. People are different. Very seldom does detailed advice about how to live one's life strike everyone exactly the same way. Anyone teaching or giving advice surely knows this and respects this.
Steve LePoidevin from Thailand on February 24, 2012:
I think awareness of your surroundings and plain common sense are two important factors when it comes to being street smart. Often, a gut reaction is your best defense. Great information and useful tips!
Karla Iverson from Oregon on February 24, 2012:
Speaking as a woman, I think Max is missing the point. You don't have to be unfriendly. But you do have to be aware and it only makes sense that being confident makes you less of a target. I speak to people all of the time and am very friendly, but I don't push that boundary that says "she needs to be liked". Your hub is very much on target.
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 24, 2012:
Part of being street smart is obviously experience -- it's not something they teach in classroom. Great tips. Voting this Up and Beautiful.
Max Havlick from Villa Park, Illinois on February 23, 2012:
Thank you for taking the time to write this useful hub with its many good tips, esp. the message to "keep on learning" which undergirds your essay. And its hyper-cautious attitude will also appeal, no doubt, to many.
But not to everyone. Some of us have "kept on learning" how to live on a friendlier planet than the one you describe, where common-sense caution does not make us so unnecessarily realistic or cynical about everyone else. People who smile too much can be irritating, I agree, but it is still sad to hear on the other extreme that life experiences have caused any adult to erect "caution about smiling" as a general principle.
To live a safe, happy life, you don't need to have an untrusting, unfriendly, robot-like mentality, preoccupied only with what's good for you. It can be much simpler than that: Associate with good people, do useful work, make good friends, keep your boundaries clear, stay away from silly risks, and keep on learning.
My comments notwithstanding, I praise anyone sharing helpful information like this with others, and I encourage you to continue doing so.
Karla Iverson from Oregon on February 23, 2012:
This is a great set of tips for safety! I used to live in NYC, and I found that my whole life worked better there if I put my head up, held onto my purse, and moved ahead with a mind full of confidence. That was a long time ago, and I'm sure that it has served me well over the years.