Spies have to contend with a lot of obstacles, the most formidable being death. But they also get to do a lot of cool spy stuff that keeps them out of scrapes or pinches. These are skills you as a civilian can borrow from the espionage experts to keep yourself safe — and get out pinch when you need to. Here are some of them.
If you need to write a note, but you don't want it to be immediately scrutable, write it on a white paper in white crayon. If your intended reader goes over it in another color, the message will become apparent. But only if they know...
Need some information from someone? A coworker? A competitor? Use spy tactics to worm your way into their confidence, and extract valuable information. Former CIA officer Lindsay Moran says that central to having people squeal is to "figure out what motivates people, and what their vulnerabilities are." You can use these as leverage, or as inducements, whether or not your target knows. With this knowledge, try offering a reward for information upfront — either subtly or overtly. People are more likely to divulge deep info if they're afforded a favor upfront.
This can definitely come in handy if you think your partner is cheating on you and you want to get the deets. Former agents outlined several ways to spot a liar, but two that stick out are: the element of surprise, and focusing on the "no." A liar will try to anticipate your question, so if you throw them a curveball, you can catch them in a net. You could start off by saying something like, "Where were you —" and they'll answer, "I was at Mike's last night!" But you wanted to know where they were two nights ago — and they've already tipped you off that something's amiss.
Now for the denial. When you ask a yes / no question, watch how a believed liar says "no." Do they look away or down? Do they hesitate? Cough? All these could be indicators of a prevarication.
We all have valuables — valuables we don't want others to find, or take. Safes can be cracked or stolen. Books... no one really wants books these days. But you can keep some of your valuables in a hollowed out book for safe keeping. All you have to do is take a knife and start cutting away at the pages, and voila! Just make sure it's one you've already read.
You never know when someone will be following you in a car. It might never happen. It could happen all the time. It could be a private dick, or a jilted ex. The way to tell is to, if you're in a car, make a series of left turns. Slow down, and see if the car is still behind you. If you think you are, don't go home. If you're in the car, make a series of turns to shake them. If you're on foot, stay in public. If you think you're really in danger, call the cops.
If you find yourself with zip ties around your wrists, stay calm. Don't let your captor know you pose a threat. These are illegal restraints. So what you're going to want to do next is, if your hands are in front of you, lift them up, bring them down in one fluid motion, and at the same time tear your hands apart. This vid can show you how to get it done.
Sometimes you want to fool somebody else, string them along, or at least remain steely so they can't interpret you. You'll want to don a poker face. Here's how: make sure to keep your face relaxed. Maintain eye contact with others to avoid looking shifty. Blink, so you don't stare too much. Keep your lips together — an open mouth reveals a lot of emotion. And above all: stay cool, man.
One of the primary skills for spies is intelligence gathering. They need to know their target inside and out. If you're a civilian, you can use the Internet and social media to gather intel on a person or organization. Let's say you're going in to an interview and you want to know more about the HR rep: use this technique.
Cold introductions are awkward. If you want to get in right with someone, find out what groups they're part of, and infiltrate them. Make nice, and endear yourself to this person. Make them think you're one of them. You'll be able to network and gain their confidence this way.
Spies need to always be able to leave at an instant's notice. Before going somewhere, make sure you have a reason for leaving. Always know where the out is, in case you have to make a French exit. Also, people might just be really boring, so make sure to have an excuse for ducking out.
One of the oldest tricks in the book is actually one of the oldest tricks in the boot. A hollowed out heel makes a great secret compartment for small items that you don't want to get picked up walking through security at the club. We'll let you decide what little goodies you'd like to keep in there — we trust you can use your imagination. The hollow heel goes back to 1901, and pilots in the RAF hid survival tools in theirs.