Walking Chicken

You’ve probably seen it before. You’re walking along in a store or down a sidewalk when, for whatever reason, someone decides to play “chicken” with you.

Note: This article assumes that it’s generally proper to walk on the same side of an aisle or walkway as you might drive your car on the street. In other words, this approach is to be used where polite convention has somehow failed.


It’s not that they don’t see you, maybe they think because they’re with two friends walking three-abreast down the sidewalk that you should yield to them. Maybe it’s some kind of guilty passive-aggressive pleasure. Maybe they’re trying to assert dominance over you.

In any case, my Dad taught me a little trick that has served me well over the years in dealing with this rather common rude behavior in a polite way – and you ALWAYS win the game of “chicken” to boot!

The key is that no person (or animal) will walk into a stationary object. So if you’re approaching a group of people on a crowded sidewalk and their body language is saying “get out of my way”, gradually slowing down and stopping requires *them* to decide how to get past you.

The vast majority of the time, simply slowing down and giving the situation more time to work out results in the person ducking in behind their friends or otherwise changing course to avoid you.  Stopping takes the fun out of a game of “chicken”.

Interestingly, this also works in cars if you’re on a narrow street with parking on each side. Stopping, leaving room for the other driver to maneuver, and letting them sort it out works wonders.

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