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15 Things Only Incredibly Observant People Would Understand

15 Things Only Incredibly Observant People Would Understand

I’ve been watching a lot of the new Netflix series “Marvel’s Daredevil” lately. If you know anything about the show (based on the comic book series by Stan Lee and Bill Everett) you know that Daredevil Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) is a blind vigilante who prowls the streets of New York in a black mask to protect the city he loves. In one scene, Matt stands at the open window of an abandoned building, listening to and identifying every strain of sound on the street below from the precise pitch of whining fire engines and police vehicles to snatches of conversation. He can tell whether or not someone’s telling the truth by listening to their heart rate, and midway through the series *SPOILER ALERT!* he tells his best friend Foggy Nelson that he first felt motivated to take on his Daredevil persona after he heard a girl crying in an apartment building several blocks away.

While it’s highly unlikely that even the most observant person can use their senses the way Matt Murdock does, Matt Murdock is a perfect example of what goes on in the observant person’s brain. Very often we associate observation with vision—with using our eyes to take in the world around us—but being observant is much more than seeing. It involves turning on our brains at full power and soaking in the world with every molecule of our bodies. Observant people notice everything from the most insignificant speck of dust to the woman on the bus who smells like she showers in her favorite perfume. This level of sensory awareness can be at once a blessing and a curse because noticing everything means having to concentrate more diligently to filter out background noise or unimportant details to prioritize information. Here are fifteen things only incredibly observant people can understand and that everyone else can learn from if you pay attention!

1. They practice deductive reasoning

Let’s use another famous example: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic consulting detective, the one and only Sherlock Holmes. Well-known for his powers of observation and deduction, Holmes famously tells his clients not to leave out a single detail when relating their problems to him, even the most seemingly insignificant trifle, for as he often says, there’s nothing so important as trifles. He can tell that Watson’s had a cold from the fact that he’s lost weight and his slippers are scorched from warming his feet before the fire, and in his very first case, A Study in Scarlet, he manages to catch a murderer by, among other things, identifying the tobacco ash left at the crime scene.

While observant people might not regularly use their skills to solve crimes, this just proves that attention to detail can make you more attuned to your surroundings. Observant people might be more likely to be considerate of others as a result. If they notice that a coworker comes into the office with mismatched shoes, for instance, they might deduce from this detail that the person left the house in a rush and maybe isn’t having the best morning, so it might not be the most convenient moment to bring up that looming project deadline.

2. They can tell when you’re lying

Observant people notice body language: posture, eye contact, facial expressions, and changes in breathing. It’s a common belief that when we lie, we don’t make eye contact with the person we’re lying to. You can’t hide anything from an observant person. Matt Murdock can tell when Foggy wants to say something but changes his mind just based on the change in his breathing. So if you have something to say to an observant person, just spit it out; they’ll drag it out of you eventually anyway and you’ll feel better for having gotten it off of your chest.

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3. They practice mindfulness

All of us are probably guilty of checking our phones or playing Candy Crush while we wait for the subway or stand in line at the supermarket because we can’t stand boredom, but for observant people this is just an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Whenever they’re still, they use that time wisely to hone their senses, soaking in their surroundings, taking in the intricate beading on the shoes of the woman standing in front of them or the way the man seated across from them at the bus stop keeps nervously combing his fingers through his hair. Sometimes they even like to make up stories; maybe the guy is meeting a secret lover, or maybe he’s nervous about a job interview. These games keep the mind active and help observant people to remain grounded in the moment.

4. They’re great listeners

If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to take that new job that requires a cross-country move or if you’re having problems in a relationship, observant people are great to have around. We all know that conversations aren’t just about talking, listening, and responding. We need to engage the entire body and mind, not just the ears and mouth. Since observant people tend to be better at grounding themselves in the moment, they likely have excellent focus and are therefore more likely to be fully engaged in a conversation. They’ll nod, make eye contact, and ask questions when appropriate to indicate that they’re fully engaged. Such active dialogue lends itself well to problem-solving because you can talk through the situation and examine it from different angles.

5. They have better organizational skills

This characteristic can sometimes be mistaken for obsessive-compulsiveness, and it’s just a natural side-effect of being attuned to one’s surroundings. Maybe you remember that old episode of “Full House”, after DJ and Steph accidentally punch a hole in Danny’s bedroom wall and try to move all of the furniture in the room to cover it. When he notices something is off, his first words are “Who moved the baking-soda in my underwear drawer?”

Since observant people notice everything, when something is out of place, it throws the universe out of balance, but part of the reason why they can remain so focused and productive in their everyday lives is because they have everything they need at their fingertips. No searching for paper-clips or turning their desk drawers upside-down to find a pen.

6. They have a strong sense of orientation

Since observant people always take in their surroundings, they’re excellent at spotting landmarks or points of orientation, especially in large or crowded environments. Always have an observant person with you when you go to the mall during the Christmas rush because they’ll be the most likely to remember where you parked your car, and they won’t be foolish enough to use non-stationary landmarks like the pea-green minivan plastered with political bumper stickers that might not be there by the time you finish shopping.

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7. They’re incredibly analytical

The thing about being incredibly observant is that attention to detail goes hand in hand with analysis. Observant people, like Sherlock Holmes, notice everything because everything is important, at least to them.

Let’s say you’re chatting with your incredibly observant friend about your recent vacation and exclaim, “Me and my husband spent the weekend at this great hotel!” Don’t be surprised if the friend responds, “my husband and I, not me and my husband. You can’t use objective pronouns in the subject of a sentence.” This might seem picky (and, yeah, it is), but you’re going to want that person around when you need someone to proofread the report or legal document you’ve just written because you know they’ll catch every mistake you made, not to mention the ones you didn’t realize you made.

8. They’re fountains of factual information

If their tendency to correct grammar in casual conversations wasn’t enough of a hint, observant people can be know-it-alls sometimes. They’re so used to noticing everything and filing it away in their encyclopedic brains that they forget that not everyone does this. So if you express surprise when they tell you that a pumping human heart is powerful enough to squirt blood up to a distance of 30 feet and the observant person who edified you responds with “I thought everyone knew that,” don’t take it personally. Just placate them by reminding them that not everyone is as detail and fact-oriented as they are. They like knowing that there’s a niche in the universe for their talent even if they’re frustrated when nobody seems to possess their depth of knowledge. Next time you’re playing Trivia Crack, you’re going to want them around.

9. They have better survival skills

You’ve probably seen people talking on the phone, texting, applying makeup, or fiddling with their iPods while driving. You’ve probably done it yourself. According to an article in Psychology today over time, as we’ve evolved and begun to rely more on technology and less on our bodily instincts, we’ve become less observant. That “little voice” that’s telling you to pay attention or that something isn’t right is really your limbic system kicking into gear.

Not following this basic human instinct can lead to accidents and injuries. The AAA Foundation reports that approximately 80% of drivers feel unsafe on the roads because of distractions, and federal statistics indicate that distracted driving leads to 5000 deaths annually from car accidents. Observant people know that distractions interfere with focus and are therefore more likely to practice situational awareness, remaining alert in situations that can be potentially dangerous.

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10. They love to people-watch

Observant people probably get told off for staring or being nosy when they’re in public, but people-watching serves two purposes; it keeps their minds actively engaged with their surroundings, and it offers creative inspiration. Since observant people’s senses are always tingling, they often find creativity, like writing or painting, to be a useful outlet.

According to Scott Kaufman, a psychologist at NYU, “Marcel Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books.” One of my creative writing professors in college used to tell her students to go to Starbucks with a notebook and eavesdrop on people’s conversations because there are stories all around us if we know where to find them, and observant people are great at sniffing out stories.

11. They’re great judges of character

Observant people are always attentive to social dynamics, and because they can read body language extremely well, they can determine pretty easily how people treat one another. They can tell when couples are truly in love by the tone in which they talk to each other or how closely they sit to each other. They can deduce how close a pair of friends are by the tone of the Facebook posts and Twitter conversations between them.

A friend of mine once expressed concern about a mutual friend’s significant other by saying, “He didn’t say a word to anyone the entire time we were at dinner, and he never looked at you when you spoke to him. He’s bad news.” When they broke up, everyone said the person had a sixth sense. Not really. She was just paying attention. Try it some time.

12. They have more keenly-developed comprehension and critical thinking skills

Observant people were probably the ones who breezed through tests in school, were the fastest readers, and responded the most quickly to answers in class. This isn’t necessarily natural ability, but the result of developing their observational skills. One of the biggest benefits to being so observant is that, according to Social-Psychiatry.com, all of that brain exercise strengthens the neural pathways in the brain, resulting in better reading comprehension and reading speed.

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This increases the ability to absorb and retain information, which is why observant people tend to have eidetic memories. When I was studying for my comprehensive exam as a Master’s student, I developed a reputation in my study group for being the quotation queen. Instead of looking up the page number of a book quotation, someone would read it to me from their notes, and I’d tell them what page it was on. It saved a lot of time.

13. They’re perfectionists

Sometimes the downside to being so detail-oriented is that letting things slide can be challenging. Observant people have to cross every t, dot every i, and proofread their emails five times, manually as well as with spell-checker. They have to practice their presentations fifteen times before they feel comfortable, but they’ll be the most productive people you can work with because they believe that there’s no point doing a job unless you’re going to do it right. This characteristic makes them great team leaders, trainers, and teachers because they can micro-manage and oversee what everyone is doing.

14. They appreciate the importance of repetition

Observant people can watch their favorite movies and read their favorite books over and over again and never get bored because they’ll always discover something new. Even if it’s as simple as noticing what color socks a character is wearing, that discovery adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Moreover, while observant people tend to absorb information more quickly, they’re also aware that something might slip under their radar undetected. This is why it’s always a good practice to read novels multiple times before writing a research paper about them and why rereading study or presentation notes multiple times is a smart habit to practice because the more you look at something the more deeply it becomes etched into your mind’s eye.

15. They have healthier relationships

This goes back to the importance of reading body language and relationship dynamics. Observant people can be more attuned to the rhythms of other people’s lives and bodies as well as their own and can thus pick up on mood changes and habits. They’ll be more likely to ask what’s bothering their partner if they notice a frowning expression or if a usually chatty friend has become uncharacteristically quiet or withdrawn. They’ll know that if you’re not a morning person that there’s no point trying to get a word out of you before you’ve had caffeine, and they’ll remember that the only thing that cheers you up when you’re feeling down is your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s. There’s no magic to this. They just care about you enough to take the time to observe how they can cultivate the relationship.

Featured photo credit: Girl Observing with Binoculars via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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