"Two guys were playing pool," he says. "I was watching them play. I was having a shitty week, apparently they were having a shitty day. Our eyes crossed at one point. One guy gets in my face and he says to me, 'Do you have a fucking problem man?' And I with complete honesty and earnestness I say, 'Brother I got a lot of problems man, I don't know why you ask. Does it show on my face? That's why I'm here. I'm kinda drinking them away.'"
That confrontation, he says, ended with the men commiserating over Richard's recent failed relationship with his fiance. Yes, this even works if the aggressive party is drunk. Especially if they're drunk, in Richard's experience. "Because the second you show respect and kindness, they're going to become your best friend, for the most part ... when you approach the situation, be nice, be polite. You disarm the individual this way ... be nice, [but] be prepared."
OK, so what if that doesn't work and the confrontation keeps escalating? "He's going to shove you, insult you, provoke you ... and most men, when you push them [they push back]." Lots of fights begin with that, a literal push. Richard does not advise pushing back. Instead, he says, you should take the distance the shove grants you and keep backing away. "He has to keep walking toward you now ... so you're going to see him coming, you're going to see if he has a knife because you took the distance he gave you ... as opposed to shoving back ..."
He also notes that these people tend to want to at least look like the good guy. So by backing up, putting your hands in the air, and apologizing, "It becomes difficult for him to keep instigating."
Which brings up an important tip ...
The other upside of the "Always de-escalate when possible" policy is that it creates the element of surprise if you reach the point where you do have to strike. Don't build toward it. "Don't challenge the aggressor, don't threaten them, don't insinuate they're wrong, don't tell them what to do. Don't say things like back off, leave me alone, don't touch me, calm down, relax -- all of that stuff is challenging. If the person deems themselves superior to you, you don't want to be telling them what to do."