Do you find that you notice almost everything?
This may seem normal to you, but it can actually be a sign that you’re more observant than most other people.
Here’s how to tell if that’s the case.
1) You have high situational awareness
Situational awareness is when you notice the details and subtext of a situation easily and quickly.
Not everybody has high situational awareness, to say the least.
If you find that you quickly pick up on what’s going on around you and why, you have high situational awareness.
2) You pick up on environmental clues
Your environment is everything around you, whether that’s your workplace, a nightclub or a hiking trail.
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you notice small things that many others miss.
For example, you may notice discarded gum wrappers on the hiking trail and conclude that many younger teens use the trail, or notice the brand is from a certain country and indicates tourists who’ve been visiting (not very environmentally conscious tourists, it would seem!)
3) You notice microexpressions
Microexpressions are people’s small and involuntary facial reactions that occur instinctually and are rapidly replaced by someone’s “official” or intended reaction.
In other words, the microexpression shows how somebody really feels rather than what they want to look like they feel.
Learning to notice and read microexpressions is a key part of being a criminal investigator, military interrogator.
It can also be highly useful in other professional fields such as law, psychology and politics.
4) You can spot authentic people
As a highly observant individual, you can tell who’s being real.
Genuine people are readily apparent to you, whereas those who are pretentious or putting on a show are easily detectable.
This helps you know who to trust and who to take with a grain of salt.
5) You can tell when somebody is telling the truth
There are some very skilled liars out there.
There are also salespeople who could sell an igloo to an Eskimo.
You’re not their target audience, however, since you can easily spot a lie and can tell if somebody’s telling the truth by judging their microexpressions, word choice, intentions and mode of speaking.
6) You’re skilled at spotting scams
The reason people fall for scams is one of two reasons:
They want or fear something so much that they don’t notice the problems with what’s being sold to them or asked of them.
They are drawn in by the actual lies themselves or the rhetorical and verbal skill of the person or people doing the scam.
Being highly observant at spotting liars helps you avoid this fate.
7) You’re able to intuit a lot about somebody’s intentions
Part of it is that you can tell a lot about what somebody wants from you in a given situation.
Without even being able to say exactly why, you’re able to tell what people want from you.
Sometimes they don’t want anything at all, or just want you to laugh at their joke or give them attention, and that’s fine too!
8) You notice what people don’t say
Spotting the authenticity of what’s being said is often just as much about what’s not said as what’s said.
A husband trying to hide that he is cheating on his wife, for example, may enthusiastically tell her about his day at work, or get deep into the issues he’s facing with his boss.
What he doesn’t mention is the three hour gap of time between when he finished work and came home.
9) You have sensitive hearing
Another key observational skill is located on either side of your head (assuming you’re not Evander Holyfield).
I’m talking about your ears.
I’ve always had very sensitive hearing and it’s served me well.
The more you can hear the more you notice about other people and your surroundings.
10) You see anything that’s unusual or out of place
When you’re highly observant you notice anything out of place.
It could be a dentist’s reception office with one magazine that just doesn’t fit the type of other magazines there.
It could be a person with a strange “look” who just doesn’t seem to belong at the anime convention you’re at.
It may be something unusual that matters or it may not. Either way, you notice!
11) You can read between the lines
Whether you’re reading a book or watching the news, you can read between the lines.
“OK, this politician is essentially trying to get me to support this war.”
“I see, this book is trying to undermine the idea of traditional marriage.”
“Ah, clearly this advertisement is selling me on the idea that smoking will help me relax.”
And so on. Tying into the next point…
12) You notice and question narratives
Narratives are stories that many people believe and repeat.
They could be something as simple as “marriage is difficult” all the way to more complex narratives such as “our traumas are formed in early childhood and influence most of how we react to everything else that happens in our life.”
It’s not that these are necessarily entirely true or untrue. It’s that they are sort of soundbytes that generalize a truism.
You’re observant because you notice that narratives tend to oversimplify reality and rely on thought-terminating cliches.
13) You notice those who engage in critical thinking
If you’re naturally observant then you quickly notice people who engage in critical thinking.
This means you can spot people who are willing to question their beliefs and assumptions.
You tend to be drawn to such people because they are also generally highly perceptive and self-aware.
14) You pick up quickly on somebody’s intelligence level
There are a number of ways to measure intelligence, not just verbal and numerical.
As a very observant man or woman, you quickly get a grasp for somebody’s intelligence level in whatever area you’re paying attention to.
For example you may notice one person is highly smart with words, while another is highly emotionally empathetic and emotionally intelligent.
15) You’re able to detect romantic or sexual interest
Some people are more subtle than others at showing romantic or sexual interest.
If you’re highly observant, however, you can pick up on even the smallest signals of attraction from others.
You can also distinguish this from when somebody’s friendliness or charm toward you is only politeness as opposed to actual romantic or physical interest.
16) You’re perceptive of low-key hostility in somebody
When there’s a threat, you tend to pick up on it.
You can distinguish someone staring at you out of curiosity or interest from somebody staring at you out of resentment or anger.
This is a very useful discernment skill to have, to say the least!
17) You can observe people’s consistency level
Whether it’s in business or private life, many people judge somebody on a one-off basis.
They work with someone new or meet a new friend and decide they are “great” or “awful” based on one or two interactions.
As a highly observant person, by contrast, you observe people’s consistency and how they behave over time, not just when they’re at their best or their worst.
18) You’re able to spot and avoid fairweather friends and lovers
Fairweather friends are a dime a dozen.
Anybody can treat you with respect and affection when you’re winning.
But how do people treat you when you’re losing?
How do friends and loved ones respond when you genuinely need help?
That’s the thing…
How do people treat you when the chips are down?
In the summer of 2019 I was reporting in Ukraine before whispers of the war had even started.
At that time I attended a synagogue in Lviv in the country’s west, with a new friend I’d made.
Afterwards the rabbi sat down to talk to us and engaged in a long-winded exegesis of the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachael and the matter of choosing a wife.
At the time I found his story confusing and wasn’t sure on the point, but in retrospect what the rabbi said makes a lot of sense.
He was saying that if you want to check somebody’s true intentions toward you, enact a scenario in which you have lost most of your money, had a health scare or lost your earthly benefits. Then see how they react and what they do next…
Similarly in our relationship to the divine, those who truly understand God follow and seek Him because of who He is, not because of his power, blessings or punishments.
I finally feel like I understand the parallel the rabbi was making and the deep point he was trying to illustrate about true allegiance and love versus transactionalism.