Observation is the action & process of observing something or someone carefully in order to gain new information. It is the action behind taking notice of a specific event and understanding the reason behind the event. It is fundamental to learning.
Imagine being completely unobservant about the world around you? You would probably be completely lost, dazed out and confused most of the time. Your ability to interact with people would be based on what you have learnt from secondary knowledge. You would be utterly “clueless”.
But the truth is that very few people are actually fully observant of their environment and the people around them. As James Altucher puts it “most people live either in the past or future” not taking much account for the present which is where all of our observation is done. I have come to believe that great observers focus on the present, since its the only time you can actually be aware of the things happening around you.
Being observant is a natural human instinct that helps us constantly improve, become more competitive in our environment and simultaneously become more emphatic towards others, its a trait that has been embedded into the human psyche for a massively long time but has become jarred in our modern society. So, how does one become more observant?
Here are 5 things that can help:
#1 — Become more curious
To observe is to be curious and accept difference. It is practically impossible to be observant of the people around you if you are not at all actually interested in people. We learn from each other, so observing the difference between you and other people is key to becoming a great observer, constantly asking why the difference exists is key.
#2 — Improve your self awareness
Being aware of how your actions affect the people and the world around you can help in finding the cause and effect of your actions, making it easier to understand why certain behaviors have certain consequences. Self awareness is a tricky one, people who are truly self aware show very little signs of anxiety or stress. The underlying traits a self aware person possesses is being calm, content and at ease most of the time. Identifying your insecurities and working on improving them is the only way you can become completely self aware, but every step towards self improvement makes you more self aware and ultimately a better observer.
#3 — Stare more
Don’t be afraid to stare at things and people more, as long as you remain off the “creep” radar its a good way to improve your observation skills. We encode a lot more information from visual cues than from spoken or written, so use this to your advantage when improving your observation skills.
#4 — Ask yourself more “why” questions
I found asking at least 10 “why” questions a day about anything you observe during the day is a great way to becoming a razor sharp observer, it’s like a never ending loop, you keep your brain constantly hungry for answers to your daily observations in turn making you more engaged with your environment.
#5 — Learn to speak “body language”
I recently read a book by Joe Navarro about Body language. As much as you have probably heard it: most of our communication is non-verbal. Most people know this but few take action into actually understanding the science behind our body language, we take formal qualifications in writing, reading and even coding, but what about Body Language, take some time and understand it, probably one of the most important point to becoming a great observer.
Observing is a basic human instinct and crucial to being human, when we stop observing we stop being curious and ultimately stop learning… so become a better observer today.
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