Introduction: Defeat the Stare-Down

Picture of Defeat the Stare-Down

Most of us have experienced it ... someone is trying to cow you or impose their will on you through direct eye contact. They're relying on your instinct to avoid confrontation and look away, making you the "loser" of the confidence test.

Whether you think so or not, you've just given some interpersonal power to the other person. Whether it's a salesman, drill instructor, police officer, con artist, or cult recruiter, you're one psychological step behind in this battle of wills. (Note: it may under certain circumstances be wiser to let a police officer feel he/she has control over you. Cops are not as nice when they feel threatened or disrespected.)

This is a simple trick that allows you to disconnect from the uncomfortable eye contact without "conceding" the match.

Soften your gaze and direct it between and slightly above the starer's eyes. Try it on a friend and you'll see the difference — there's no connection, no feeling of intrusion because there's no true eye contact.

You can now converse more comfortably without giving your would-be dominator the satisfaction of making you break your gaze.

Body language: avoid excessive hand gestures, as they can be interpreted as nervousness. Hand gestures, when used, should be sharp, assertive and in a downwards motion. Don't show your palms to the other person, this is a submissive gesture. Watch politicians giving speeches to get the idea of the kind of hand gestures you should make ... they're professionally trained to appear confident and "alpha" at all times.

Final note: anyone (other than perhaps a police officer doing his duties) who uses nasty manipulative techniques like this is probably not a good person, and does not have your best interests at heart. The best reaction may be to stop talking to them, because they might have more tricks than this one.


Lovely Spider (author)2016-10-09

A few months ago, my brother gave me the icy stare (more like a glare) because I asked my elderly father a question. I gave my brother a look of total confusion, and he continued to glare at me for the next couple minutes. My sister was also present and witnessed my brother's behaviour. I tried my best to ignore him. Later my sister told me I didn't do anything to deserve his treatment, which made me feel a bit better. I was caught so off guard by this behaviour, that I didn't confront it. Now, family get together's are very uncomfortable. My brother won't acknowledge me in any way and will look right through me, and refuses to talk to me. If I ask him a question, or try to engage him in conversation, he pretends he didn't hear me, and won't even look at me. I find myself walking on egg shells around him, as does the rest of the family. At this point, when my father passes away, I don't hold out hope of any relationship with my brother. Hard to believe his 5 year old behaviour belongs to a 57 year old man!

eyewalk (author)2011-12-04

Seriously though, staring down a baby is totally different from staring down a jerk. Why are they so creepy? Any suggestions?

supertoria12 (author)2011-05-03

STARING CONTEST! shoot, i lost!

pestan (author)2009-07-05

Damn the baby beat ME!

KnexFreek (author)pestan2010-04-25


pestan (author)2009-07-05

You have been watching news radio haven't you? You know the TV show... I'm outdated. LOL

THESTU (author)2009-04-11

This baby is so ugly! I feel sorry for its parents.

mickers1 (author)2009-02-25

That's what I thought too. Or maybe a bindi.

hippojoe (author)2008-09-21

It's fun to stare down teachers that are jerks. ESPECIALLY in class because it'll mess them up, if your good enough. Plus allot of times they have gotten pretty good it so it's a challenge.

GrinnDaddy (author)2007-11-17

This instructable has been rated as one of Grinn Blog's10 REALLY Wierd Instructables. Congrats rapiertwit!

nchail (author)2007-07-11


Aestheticxtattoos (author)2007-01-16

if that babys arms could reach me he'd slap me.

that baby's arms are fat. look at all that BULGE!!! lol

BonoGlasses (author)2007-06-09

true lol

lemonie (author)2007-02-17

What about the reverse-stare? What gives a person the ability to stare-DOWN? It's percieved importance & power. You can stare a person back if you have enough confidence.
Please check this video:

qwerty (author)2006-12-15


monigarr (author)2006-11-28

I concur with the fart comment. Any kind will do the trick and defuse the bully. Silent but deadly, soft poofers, or letting an obnoxious barking spider rip, works every time. For special moments, add a quick hip turn towards the bully, right after you let it rip, so they get an idea of what you really think of their stare down. ;P

knowitallnewbie (author)2006-10-14

it also works on cats. not dogs. but don,t do it on a lion or jageur. pardon my spelling

CanDo (author)knowitallnewbie2006-10-29

Funny, no experience with cats here, But otherwise disobedient dogs will obey (or scare away potentially threatening dogs from my own) with proper eye-contact...

illuminate (author)2006-10-01

That baby has it going on he got me that little sh*t he's good

hydrorunner (author)2006-10-01

i thik i will find this verry helpful. now i notice that i am for some reason unusually suseptable to the "stare-down" because i usaully dont care about doing what is asked except for this one guy who seems to want to belittle me for some reason. :P man does he have problems...

zachninme (author)2006-09-30

lol. I always look right on top past thier head, and then listen to conversations around me. (That only works in places with people, like cafaterias)

Robotrix (author)2006-09-26

I've heard that stepping or leaning forward after someone has just finished their intimidation tirade will defuse them, because it demonstrates that you're not at all frightened. It's supposed to be a subtle gesture. I guess that's the next move after you've defeated their stare down and they're standing there akwardly?

rapiertwit (author)Robotrix2006-09-27

This tip is not really about physical intimidation situations where fear would be involved. The "stare-down" I'm talking about is when someone uses excessive, direct eye contact to push you unconsciously into a submissive mode. Experienced salesmen do this shit all the time. It's one of the many buttons they know how to push to make the sale. I wouldn't recommend using this technique in a pre-fight lead-up, unless of course you know how to fight.

leevonk (author)2006-09-26

farting is a good icebreaker

Sk8rDuck (author)2006-09-26

I just smile like I have a plan XP

Neodudeman (author)2006-09-26

I like smiling right to their face. It makes things ackward for them. lol. funny

SlimJim (author)2006-09-26

Further tricks: Keep your face ABSOLUTELY impassive. Relaxed. DO NOT SMILE or laugh. (It really kills the tension)

Since I'd rather laugh than intimidate, when the occasioncalls for it, I have a mantra that I repeat in my mind while doing the "Staredown":
"you little $*&%" "You little &*%"

radiorental (author)2006-09-26

stare at the left eye, note its colour, let ADHD kick in and zoneout. Think about what you had for breakfast and whether you left the iron on, did you put deoderant on today for a change? Whats are you supposed to be doing for the weekend? jesus I need to fart. What are they talking about? nevermind.. just nod. That kind of stuff By the time you refocus the opponent should be a quivering mess subdued by your iron like facial expressions. Or so I've found. Works well for poker and playing chicken with cars.

JGB (author)2006-09-26

Actually, if it is difficult to look above, look slightly to the right.... same thing. Some people find looking to the side slightly easier. Psychologically, it works the same way, except for one thing and that is you do not feel you are "looking up" to someone else.

Tetranitrate (author)2006-09-26

I tried, but I couldent do it. That baby just has more will power and confidence then me.

I know, that baby hasn't even blinked since I started to read these tips. Ohhhh....... No, it was a false alarm, that was me degaussing the screen...

About This Instructable




Bio: Just emerging from my paranoid phase.
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