Have you ever known a person who seems to understand people very well? Or who can ask the right question to get at the heart of a problem or issue?

Some people seem to have an almost intuitive understanding of people and what makes them tick. Maybe it’s your parent or a colleague at work. You would have noticed how their understanding of people helps them form stronger bonds with people and handle delicate situations with ease. 

Their powers of perception and understanding are rooted in their superior powers of observation. Such people have trained themselves to observe and read people well. This valuable skill helps them say and do the right thing every time. 

If you want to learn how to hone this skill, first you need to understand the meaning of observation. 

The Meaning Of Observation 

Observation is the ability to notice subtle details about a person or situation. These insights help you understand people better and maneuver conflicts and challenges more tactfully. 

Let’s look at an example of learning by observation in the workplace.

Amit, a project manager, noticed that some people in his team suddenly seemed demotivated. They had begun coming to work late and seemed distracted at the workplace. 

He called for a meeting to try and find out what the reason was, but no one told him anything. He remembered that these employees were football fans and observed them talking animatedly about football. He realized that they had been staying up late to watch an international football tournament, which made them groggy in the mornings. 

He decided to shift the daily afternoon meeting to the morning so that the day could start on an inspiring note. He also decided to host an office match-viewing session one Friday evening. When his team saw that he was supportive of their passion, they felt motivated to work hard.

How To Develop Observation Skills

If you’ve ever wondered how to develop observational skills, read on.

  1. Practice Active Listening

The first step to observing others is learning to listen. There’s a difference between simply hearing someone and actively listening to them. Hone your active listening skills to listen to people more attentively and understand them better. 

Active listening is a form of listening that is empathetic, authentic, and respectful. When you listen actively to someone, you pay complete attention to what they are saying.  You don’t assume or formulate a response before listening to their whole point. Most importantly, active listening is not just about listening to the words someone uses. It’s also about noticing their nonverbal cues such as their body language, facial expressions, and tone.

If you want to become a better listener, check out Harapa’s Listening Actively course for tools and frameworks to improve your listening skills.

  1. Use Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is all about understanding emotions better–your own as well as others’. Knowing how you, a coworker, or your team is feeling in a certain situation will help you understand how to work with them productively. 

Those with high emotional intelligence find it easier to make the right decisions when handling people and resolving conflict. They can intuitively tell what others are thinking and feeling and factor it into their decision-making. They observe patterns and read people well.

If you want to improve and use your observation skills, build empathy and self-awareness. Begin by focusing more on how and why a person did something instead of what the person did.

  1. Tackle Unconscious Biases

Most of us consider ourselves open-minded. But we are all governed by our prejudices and biases.  Think about it: there are some people you believe more than others, and there are some you dislike or mistrust without really knowing why. Your biases color your perceptions and they can hurt your ability to make impartial decisions.

When you begin developing your observation skills with training or online courses, you will start becoming more aware of your unconscious biases. Once you actively work towards correcting them, you will become an impartial and insightful observer.  

Observation skills play a crucial role in our daily decision-making and problem-solving process, whether at home or in the workplace. Noticing one tiny pattern as Amit did in the previous example, can completely change your perspective and help you resolve issues more effectively. Strong observation skills help you deal well with others and communicate more effectively. 

So, if you are wondering how to develop your observation skills, look no further than Harappa’s Reading Deeply course. This course contains tools and frameworks to help you read not only written material but also people and situations well. Take the first-step towards sharpening your lens. Enroll for the course today!


Explore topics such as Importance of Decision MakingProcess of Strategic Decision MakingStrategic Decision Making & How to Make Good Judgements from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your skills.

Related articles

Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation