Let’s face it… I spend an inordinate amount of time travelling and being out in public places. One thing I find myself doing is observing.

I find it fascinating to just sit back and observe. Some may call it people watching, but I like to think of it as something much more than that.


Due to my work and partly my lifestyle, I get ample opportunities to just sit and observe. I see various types of individuals: others like me – watching or observing; others that are engrossed in whatever it is that they are doing; and still some that are conversing freely with no regard to their surroundings.  I don’t eavesdrop in on conversations, or at least I’m not actively trying to, however sometimes you just cant help it.  Some people just have a cadence or a tone to their voice that you just can’t help but hear and listen to.

For me, if given a few minutes I can easily engage into what I call “observation mode”.   This is where I will just listen to what is going on around me.  I don’t necessarily have to watch, in fact I usually try to fix my gaze on something else – off into space.   When I listen, one thing that I especially like is when I travel.  Some place where the common language is one that I am not conversant in. Sure, I can pick up pieces of languages, a few words/phrase here and there. However, I will rarely understand the full conversation. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter that you can’t understand the language.  Often, there are a number of subtle indicators that will give you hints about what is being discussed. Call it body language, or maybe its something that I have heard referred to as a micro-expression.  If you haven’t heard of this before, that’s ok, I have only recently heard of this term. According to some scientists, most of us, even those with the most poker face disposition can still have a burst of a micro-expression. It’s usually a blink of the eye type expression of emotion. That subtle and quick expression will reveal what you are thinking/feeling. Look for it sometimes, or try to catch it if you can.

But back to the topic at hand.  Sometimes when I’m out, there are places where I understand the language and I can clearly understand the intonations of the conversation. Sometimes these conversations are just plain funny.  Some people will chatter away in public and divulge a deluge of information.  I’m not sure if they don’t care what is being said, or just think that no one is really listening to them.  Often times, it’s just interesting to observe the way people will react.

I can’t say that I act any different or any more controlled. Most times I see people getting frustrated, in the same manner I do. Some I see get thrilled, again similar to the way I do. Of course the smart phones, tablets and texting have driven people to be much more introverted or better yet, non-verbally conversant.   So what I’m seeing is there are less open conversations, as more people are looking at their phones or tablets.

I really do enjoy sitting and having the time to just watch observe.  I’m not sure what I’m learning by my observations of others. Maybe it’s a matter of just being entertained. A real life reality show ?  Maybe, sometimes I learn a little just through observation. Do you learn anything by watching others ?

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