8 Ways to Improve Your Powers of Observation

Paying Attention and Thinking Critically

You see, but you do not observe. – Sherlock Holmes, in "A Scandal in Bohemia."

Do you ever feel as if you're living in your own "bubble," and that you give barely a thought to the world outside?

Test yourself for a minute. From your commute, can you remeber the name of the dime store you pass each day, or the sequence of events at that motor accident you witnessed a few weeks ago? How aware are you of problems growing between your colleagues? And how about that intentional misspelling of "remember" a couple of sentences ago – did you notice that?

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We all get lost in our thoughts sometimes or flit through days on autopilot. However, when we do so, we lose out in the amount and quality of information we absorb, in the potential to be inspired or intrigued, and in our ability to engage with the people, places and situations around us.

Fortunately, developing your powers of observation isn't difficult, and we look at some easy ways to do it in this article.

About Observation

When you're observant, you use your senses to examine something that you're curious about, and you evaluate what you experience.

"Observing" is not the same thing as "seeing." Seeing is passive. For example, you see everything around you as you go to work, but you rarely look for anything specific or note down information to use later. Observation, however, is a process of paying attention, intently and actively, so that you can gather specific information to assess....

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