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10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do

10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do

Noticing all of the little details in life isn’t always beneficial, as I’ll demonstrate to you. Still, there are many positives, the most significant of which being that many high level professions require an extreme amount of attention to the fine print. Below, you’ll find a little list of some of the (sometimes humorous) things only detail-oriented people do, and how they allow them to be successful in life.

1. They always proofread their work several times over.

I was always astounded in college by the fact that most of my classmates rarely proofread their work. Even when they did, they usually only did it once, and subsequently turned in papers with tons of errors. This amazed me, as I literally felt a compulsion to read my work several times over. Indeed, I had a fairly concrete process. I would write, proofread, sleep on it, read it again, and then read it aloud. Is that overkill? Possibly, but it led to many great papers!

One time during my professor’s office hours, they admitted to me that half of a student’s grade was determined by how well they wrote (structurally speaking). If an essay flowed and contained few grammatical errors, professors would give students the benefit of the doubt, even if their argument was shaky at best.

Whether you are still in school or not, remember to revise your work! Finish your essays, emails, memos, notes, reports or whatever it is you need to write, in advance and give yourself time to create multiple drafts. If you do this in college in regard to essays you aren’t really passionate about, you’ll eventually acquire the skills you’ll use when you start doing something that you actually want to do. This is why proofreading is important; not because it’s anything special in itself, but because it proves that if you care this much about a single measly paper, you’ll necessarily apply that care and attention to other things as well.

2. They remember incredibly random details that nobody else does.

I swear, there are moments when I feel like Sherlock Holmes out in the real world. Sometimes when I’m talking with friends, I get nostalgic and say something like, “Hey so and so, remember that one time you were walking with me to class and you talked to me about the way my sleeves bunched up all strangely?” Usually, they’ll just give me a blank stare and laugh, saying something like “ha ha…no I don’t!” At that point they either back away slowly, or walk with me in silence if they’re a decent enough friend.

Here’s another example. I was at a family gathering talking to some cousins, and I started reminiscing about something we did as kids, down to the minute details (like what time of day it was and some of the things we did; mind you, this was when I was around seven years old). None of them knew what I was talking about, completely forgetting about these (not so) cherished memories that I had hung onto for years.

As you can see, it’s not all fun and games remembering all of the details! Often you’ll find it can be a bit of a lonely existence. That being said, retaining all of this seemingly random stuff could definitely prove to be useful in a future job interview, or date. You never know when you’ll need that superfluous bit of information! Just ask any lawyer.

Although paying attention to these small details might seem like a bit of a chore and unworthy of your energy, it is helpful, because much like the aforementioned proofreading, you’re developing a skill that can be applied elsewhere, whether it be in your job or somewhere else. To give a more simplistic example, how many scientific discoveries seem obvious after the fact? All it takes is one person soaking up seemingly random details and ideas to produce a breakthrough that seems incredibly obvious in hindsight. Think Isaac Newton.

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I’m not saying you should go out and start writing notes down every time you see anything slightly odd. However, to develop this skill, you should definitely put some effort into being constantly aware of your surroundings, making a mental checklist of things you find interesting or out of the ordinary. You never know when two and two might come together to produce four in your mind…

 3. They can instantly match faces and voices seen and heard on television to a particular actor.

This one is fun. I don’t mean like, the A-list actors either. I’m talking about that obscure actor who showed up twice on LOST and played henchman number two. If I see them on some other show or movie, usually I’ll instantly (or close enough to instantly) be able to recall what I saw them in previously. Sometimes this gets annoying for other people since I’m always blurting things like “hey that guy was killed on 24,” or something else super pertinent when a TV show or movie is on. If nothing else, I get a lot of use out of the IMDB app on my phone!

Since I play video games a lot (who doesn’t), I also have a tendency to match voices. Bioware games, such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, are my favorite, and so I got a lot of my practice matching up the various voice actors shared between those games. When I play the classics like Knights of the Old Republic, I listen for them there as well, and usually I find them!

To master this fun little skill for yourself requires a crazy attention to detail that most don’t bother with. Though it may seem pointless to match actor faces and voices, it’s a neat little exercise that brushes up your analytical skills. If anything, if you can pay attention to the TV closely enough to play this advanced version of “Where’s Waldo,” you’ll surely start using that talent for more practical purposes as well, such as doing research (which I’ll expand upon further down the list).

4. Their ability to remember faces extends to real life too!

This summer I went back east to visit family for the first time in two years. While there, I visited many of the same places I had gone to on my previous trip. For the most part, the people working at these stores/ice cream shops were the same as were there before, and I instantly recognized them.

I’m not sure why or how I keep track of all these random people; it probably has to do with my introverted nature. I’m usually observing and thinking about things rather than opening my mouth, so I suppose I have my “record” function on more than most people.

In terms of the practicality of this ability, it helps when attempting to remember a particular congressman, voices on the radio, sections of the constitution, etc. Really, when you’re paying attention to the faces of people working at the local ice cream parlor, you’ll necessarily be soaking up all of the important stuff too! It’s a great skill to have if you want to be a politician one day, as we all know their number one talent is remembering faces and names (ha).

When you’re looking at the world like a detail-oriented person, it’s like seeing everything with Terminator vision; everything you see causes you to access some strange memory or make a connection in your mind. You start to mentally question everything that you see.

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Though this can sound tiring to some, once you’ve done it long enough it really becomes second nature. Scrutinizing everything you see while out and about definitely has its benefits, especially if you have a job that requires you to put a microscope to things on a daily basis (both figuratively and literally). That famous Thomas Jefferson quote is “question with boldness.” Do that 24/7, and seeing the invisible will become a much easier task (that’s a very Morpheus-esque line).

5. They are insanely good at reading people’s emotions and intentions.

As socially inept as I pretend to be, I’m very good at reading people, and I suspect this is the case for many detail-oriented people. With all of the attention paid to random details and faces, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.

Detail-oriented people are always calculating, usually analyzing you as soon as you walk in the door, picking you apart mentally. This usually gives us an advantage, because based on outward appearances we appear to be fairly innocuous.

All the while, we’re matching your face to other similar looking people, watching how you walk, how you talk, and determining whether you’re approachable or arrogant. This all goes down within the first few seconds of meeting you.

I suppose this lends credence to that whole “first impressions” thing. Better put your best foot forward all of the time on the off-chance that you encounter a super detail-oriented person! Now that I mention it, this is a very useful skill to have for job interviews…or for any job that requires an advanced level of human interaction.

To make use of this skill for yourself requires a ground-up approach. By that, I mean that once you start questioning everything, proofreading that boring essay your professor assigned, and paying attention to what people are doing around you, you’ll begin to develop the skills required to execute the kinds of split second determinations that many detail-oriented people make on a daily basis.

6. They are great at discerning different types of accents.

Now, I don’t mean to say that detail-oriented people are any good at doing accents. I know I’m not, at least. They’re just proficient at discerning one accent from another, and not something simple like Southern U.S. English versus British, either. I mean Pennsylvanian versus Californian (the difference is in how they ask questions), or even Northern Californian versus Southern Californian.

While this isn’t too practical of a skill in and of itself, it’s something detail-oriented people often do as a habit. Since they’re constantly questioning everything and trying to notice anything out of the ordinary in their environment, a new accent will stick out like a sore thumb.

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7. They are a stickler for minor grammatical errors, such as using “which” instead of “that.”

This sort of goes back to the whole proofreading thing, though I figured I would take a little more time to expound on this particular point.

To most, the sentence “the ship which crossed the Atlantic sunk on the third day of its voyage” sounds grammatically correct. However, as a general rule of thumb, “which” is only used either after a comma or after “in” or “of.” The correct sentence would be: “the ship that crossed the Atlantic sunk on the third day of its voyage.”

Does it really change the meaning of the sentence? Not really, but these are the kinds of things that detail-oriented people will pick up on, since they’re pre-programmed to analyze everything in front of them to the nth degree and then some. As with the point I made for the more generalized example I gave about proofreading, caring about the difference between “which” and “that” may not seem like a big deal at first, but it’ll eventually lead to the development of more advanced analytical skills.

8. They always ask critical questions to themselves when studying, reading, or working.

Though detail-oriented people can sometimes over-think things, at least compared to the more big-picture types, their tendency to look at everything with a discerning eye often allows them to rise above their peers. Remember those Cornell Notes you had to do in middle school and high school, where you wrote your thoughts down in one column and questions in regard to those on the left? Well, detail-oriented people apply that mode of thinking to everything they do. Whether they’re reading a novel or creating a lesson plan, they’re always asking questions, determining holes in arguments, finding logical fallacies, and looking for ways to streamline complicated processes.

How can you develop this trait for yourself? Simply put, begin questioning everything around you. Why did the author use that word instead of this one? How can I improve this or that system where I work? Could something be done more efficiently? Is that person biased? What do they have to gain be saying a, b, or c? Am I biased? Where am I getting my sources? What’s missing from the equation? This line of questioning could go on for a while; suffice it to say, the key to thinking in a more detail-oriented way is to start questioning why things are the way they are. Never assume anything, and you’ll be taking a great first step.

9. They love being micromanagers.

Detail-oriented people aren’t necessarily great at group projects, because they often resort to trying to control every aspect of them, either because their comrades are incompetent or they (mistakenly) believe in their inherent superiority. Think Steve Jobs. Still, while you may not like them personally, there’s no question that the more detail-oriented among us often get the job done in the end.

To become a great micro-manager, you simply have to care about what you are doing. When you are passionate about something, you’re going to want to make sure it succeeds, which means you’ll try your best to ensure that no aspect of it fails. Whether you’re putting together a group paper in college, or developing the next great piece of technology, it’s much easier to be a stickler for the details when you actually believe in the significance of what you are doing.

Personally, I find it much easier to write a paper about a topic I love, like U.S. Colonial History, over something like Medieval Russian History. Even though I’d consider myself to be a detail-oriented person, I’d pay much more attention to the former project than the latter. So, the key is to choose what you like to do, once that’s done, paying attention to the fine print becomes an easy task!

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10. They see patterns easily, given enough information.

I worked with a professor who made a database tracking the voyages of several thousand slave ships. In that database, he collected a smorgasbord of information, such as the type of ship, how many slaves were in each, which ports they departed from and arrived at, the person who sold them once they disembarked in the Caribbean, etc. Looking at any one shipment wouldn’t have told you much of anything, but after reviewing several thousand of them, he was able to see different patterns and make certain conclusions, all of which eventually culminated in a book.

The key here is that it took lots of detail-oriented labor to get to that end result. Only by compiling thousands of pages worth of data, and asking himself several notebook’s worth of critical questions, was my professor able to make the conclusions that he did.

This sort of combines a bunch of the points I made earlier. Detail-oriented people pull in lots of data, usually in regard to something that interests them, and pick it apart bit by bit like a wolf with a turkey leg. Then, they take what they learned, using everything they’ve worked on up to that point, to create a finished product. As mentioned earlier, the culmination of this process could be a book, a start-up, a new piece of technology, anything really.

To become that person, all you need is a bit of dedication, which should be easy if you find something you are passionate about, like Steve Jobs with his computers or my professor with his research. When you care about something like that, it becomes easier to ask all of the questions that detail-oriented people ask, and once that becomes a habit, it’s a skill that never truly leaves you.

While I’m sure I could go on with this list ad infinitum, I’ll stop now for the sake of your (and my) sanity. I think you get the idea though. Detail-orientated people are all about…the details! Is this a positive? I’d say so, being a bit detail-oriented myself and knowing others like that as well. Though it’s always nice to get the big picture, keeping track of the details is what makes the world go around!

 

Featured photo credit: kevinrosseel_042608_014.jpg/MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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