Learning to observe is becoming aware of all the opportunities that abound around us each and every day. The more we pay attention the more mindful and conscious we become of these possibilities.
Such available eventualities exist in our physical world and in our online domains.
Learning observation, learning by watching, how to observe people so one can become adept at performing a task is a part of mastering the art of living.
But first of all let us ascertain what is observing.
What Is Observing
An artist observing the sunrise is able to create a beautiful painting replicating the beauty of the sky at dawn.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the beauty of his strokes, and the resemblance of the painting to reality, is proportional to his observation skills.
The better his ability to notice and perceive, the closer to reality his painting gets.
What is observing if not the ability to look and see at close quarters every detail of what it is and what it is not? What is observing if not the quality of making a note of information that is important?
Observing is thus a critical component of any study and work. Observing is a critical tool of life itself.
Just like the artist’s strokes, a student’s answers and an employee’s performance are linked to their observing skills.
Observing definition is watching carefully and attentively. This enables a person to learn more about the subject that he is being observant about.
Observing definition is noticing and perceiving something as being significant. Thus paying more attention to the details.
Observing includes taking note of or detecting in a scientific study. It is used for making further inferences.
Observing definition is also making a remark. In order for a person to make a remark about any topic, they have to notice, perceive and be attentive. Such is how the art of communication is further developed.
Observing definition further includes fulfilling or complying with… A person observes a day or a function out of respect and regard for the sentiment attached to that day or function.
Learning To Observe
Some of us are born very observant. As babies, the observant type can spend a long time looking at baby gym toys or even a flying curtain. As they grow, they have the ability to notice and point out details.
They are those who know to look and see whatever is around. They can give fine details of what they saw or where they went. For example, they would have noticed the color of the car that just passed or the store that is most crowded.
For others, who are not born as observant, it is about learning to observe.
Learning to observe involves ensuring complete and undivided attention to whatever one is observing or doing. In fact, it is the biggest difference between a keen observer and one who is not.
Paying attention requires us to be mindful.
Seeing and noticing the finer aspects of a thing, an event or a person is possible only when we are in the present and our complete attention is focussed on that one thing, event or person.
Where attention goes, observation improves.
Learning to observe therefore includes minimizing distraction. The distraction could be from physical things, or people present around, or emotional aspects of the mind.
It is easier to take care of the physical distractions by changing the place, reorganizing or rearranging it, de-cluttering it, or closing the area to make it distraction-proof.
The constant chatter in the mind which takes our attention away to other related or non-related matters poses a serious threat to our observation. We could be looking at one thing or person and not even seeing that thing or person.
A distracted mind can be like a patch on our eyes. It can blind us and be a complete deterrent to learning to observe.
Learning By Observation
It is amazing to know the amount of learning by our observation that happens in our daily life. No wonder it is called the universal learning strategy amongst children and others.
A little girl who observes her mother typing on the laptop soon emulates her mother and tries to bang the keys of her toy laptop.
A little boy who watches his dad talking over the phone randomly walking up and down the room does exactly that with his toy phone. He even tries to mimic his dad’s hand movements and tone of speech.
Learning by observation is recommended equally in scientific studies and the study of arts. The success of a student in every field relies on his observation skills to a large extent.
In scientific studies, close observation of an event can lead to a breakthrough discovery or invention. A close observation of a patient can result in him getting the right treatment and hence recovering.
In the study of arts, close observation can lead to the artist appreciating and understanding a form of art better. The intricacies of the movement, color, strokes, sound, or even silence can be understood by those who can learn to observe and learn by observation.
Skills Of Observation
Since every information that reaches our brain is passed through the filters of our sensory organs, in order to receive full information, we have to fine-tune our skills of observation. We assimilate all the information we receive and base our decisions on this information.
There are a lot of exercises to assess our skills of observation. Most of them involve going through a series of events or a video clip and then taking note of what we observed. The different observations made by different people suggest the influence of external factors on the act of observation.
These external factors include our perception of what is important and what is not, the extent of knowledge we possess about the situation or the event, the prior opinion or biases that we have regarding topics pertinent to the event, and so on.
An interesting fact is that we may think we have good observation skills, but we may not actually see as much as we think we do. The skills of observation require a lot of practice.
Hence children are taught right from elementary school to observe and record. The inferences they make in their science classes or what they draw during their free-hand drawing classes play an important role in instilling the habit of observation and improving their skills of observation.
Powers Of Observation
We have all read about the powers of observation in the stories of Sherlock Holmes and the likes. The observation skills of these people in stories and otherwise have been of utmost importance in solving cases and bringing justice to those who deserved it.
The powers of observation can help a person find patterns in events that could otherwise go unnoticed. This can help in diagnosis and better judgment of events.
The powers of observation have helped people to identify problems and come up with solutions to take care of those problems.
In fact it helps those trying to find bugs in software and apps programs in order to fix them.
The powers of observation can help people notice when help is required and thus extending help and support to those who are in need. It helps people in making a better discernment of a situation.
The powers of observation help a chef come up with perfect dishes for his kitchen and a designer cut out a showstopper outfit for his fashion show.
These are just some examples of the wonders that powers of observation can do to people who have them. It takes their work to a completely different level, one of much higher quality.
The critical observation is a person’s ability to notice finer or subtle details. It takes a person of utmost concentration and single-mindedness to be able to make a critical observation. It is also a quality of an inquisitive mind that is eager to understand and discover newer paths.
The importance of critical observation can be assessed by the fact that it is being considered as a favorable soft skill in employees by some of the organizations, especially in their Research & Development departments.
Since it involves an in-depth knowledge of a particular subject to be able to make critical observations, they are usually people who have spent a considerable amount of time and effort on that subject.
More like a specialist doctor who can make better diagnosis in the particular area in which he is specialized. He is trained and equipped to make critical observations in his specialized area of interest.
Critical observation thus calls for in-depth knowledge, patience, specialized tools, and experience, all of them at a far superior level. It is usually a result of deep passion and continuous practice. Meditation, and similar techniques of training our mind, can play an important role in acquiring a critical observation skill.
How To Be More Observant
In this article, we have discussed in length learning to observe and about observation skills. Right from a child to an inventor of a path-breaking technology, all of them rely a lot on their observation skills.
Observation is the starting point of learning and attaining knowledge.
Paying attention and eliminating distraction is the answer to one of the frequently asked questions of how to be more observant. Like any other skills in life, observation skills also improve over time with practice and experience.
So the key here is to practice single-minded attention to a particular thing thus engaging all our senses towards collecting information about that thing alone.
Concentration and observation can enable a person in achieving far superior results to his work or study.
It would be a good idea to constantly engage our observation skills by practicing it at home or at work.
For instance, looking at an object in order to see more than what we have always seen, or listening to music and trying to hear notes that we have never heard before could be a good beginning towards becoming more observant.
It is very important to know that in order to be more observant, one has to be aware of the powers of observation. That knowledge keeps motivating us to become more observant.
By being more observant, we grasp things better and faster. A task that would otherwise take twice as much or three times as much amount of time can be performed in a tremendous less amount of time by a person who is very observant.
Increasing efficiency by saving time and effort is a motivation big enough for all of us in our endeavor to become more observant.
Hence the answer to the question how to be more observant would be :
- By paying attention
- By eliminating distraction
- By being aware of the powers of observation
- By practicing the skill regularly
By observing things, we are bound to discover plenty of sights and sounds of joy and happiness around us.
Contributors: Kazim Abasali and Deepa Kadavakat