O is for Observant

Would all of the M3 Readers who do not ignore the obvious, please move to this side of the room? Everyone else, please sit over there. Who changed seats? Being observant gets you farther down the path, faster. Want to take the theory for a test drive?

We learned from David Keirsey by observing what people do, we can predict some of their behavior. The same rule applies to our environments. Look directly at your screen and not around the room and try to answer the following questions:

  1. How many lights are turned on within your field of vision (if you were to look around, which you are not going to do)?
  2. What was the color of the last car that passed you? (either direction)
  3. What is sitting to the left of the kitchen sink?
  4. Name three things which are on the bathroom counter.
  5. What is the last number on the caller ID?

How many did you get right?


Some of us are very rigid in our habits, and do things precisely the same way every time. This level of routine is comforting. You learned this as a baby. When things are as we expect, they are easier to handle.

  • Put keys in the same place…avoid morning scramble to locate them.
  • Put shoes away…never look for them.
  • Lunch at appointed hour…no afternoon cravings.

Some people will judge this behavior as compulsive. Take those people with a grain of salt. These habits are healthy ways to reduce stress. However, they can make you less observant.


But I always put them right here!

Any random Tuesday, you come in and toss your keys on the kitchen counter next to a bag of groceries. After you put away the food, you trample off to put away the shoes and stop by the desk for an email read. Your evening goes according to leisurely plan until bedtime.

Wednesday morning, you are pressed and dressed, ready to walk out the door…but your keys are missing. The frantic search begins. You look everywhere you could possibly have put them and never put them. No dice. Why? You are not being observant of your own actions.

Commonly referred to as retracing your steps, if you would not panic for a moment and mentally walk through the last time you had them, you would be standing at the kitchen with the snake which would have bitten you. Now, let’s leave the house.


This one is pretty, and that one makes me sneeze.

Everyone marvels at the beauty of nature when they see it on a postcard or television or in a painting. But are you seeing it around you? What is in bloom in your neighbor’s garden? (Do not name only what makes you sneeze.) Even if you do not know its name, what does the plant look like in the planter in front of the building you enter everyday?

How many street signs are there between your home and the grocery? Do you know the speed limit by heart? Would you notice if the sign was missing or changed?

Could you give me guy directions to your house? Hmm. Let’s try somewhere else.


In the last office you entered (not your home office, someone else’s office), was the receptionist wearing a name tag or was there a name plate on the desk? What color is the office manager’s hair? Okay, so you did not see the office manager. What color was the carpet?

Yes, this is important. Observing the obvious (like the floor) is important to your safety and comfort in the places you visit. Knowing which people to expect where is key to identifying stranger danger. You may not think someone would kidnap you, but someone lifting your wallet is definitely a danger.


That could be fun!

If you really like surprises, keep on the blinders. If you like to stop to smell the flowers, you do need to know where they are. Did you notice the new restaurant which opened near the bank? Did you see the sign at the intersection about the festival this weekend? By being observant, you can pick up fun ways to fill your time away from the grindstone.

Was anyone on the Amber Alert board a neighbor? The flyer at the drug store was for the next-door-neighbor’s little girl. Her lost dog was in your yard yesterday, but you did not know it was hers. Observing the notifications outside your inbox can help you be more involved in your community.


Do not ignore the obvious.” ~Red Dwyer

Too many times we write off the forest because a tree is planted in front of it. Being observant of your surroundings can bring you fun ideas, make your day move faster, keep you safer and reduce the stress of surprises which do not come from the florist.

How observant are you? How many of the observation questions did you get right without cheating? Can you be more observant of your surroundings? What other ways can being more observant help you?


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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. 1. One within my field of vision and within my office
    2. Haven’t a clue it was pitch dark outside
    3. Hand soap directly left.
    4. There are not three things on my bathroom counter, were there three things on my bathroom counter I would be very angry at my husband and we would fight about it. That being said – do sinks count? 2 basin sinks, 2 hand soap dispensers (1 for each sink)
    5. Yours

    Excellent job as always. My powers of observation always depend upon the situation.
    valentinelogar recently posted..Throwaway ChildrenMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 18, 2012

      After I read the fourth question, I thought of your bathroom! I tossed that one in because there are four boots on my bathroom counter beside my ring spindle. I move them everyday…so, do the children.

  2. one light…
    dont know I have been inside working all day
    the coffee grinder
    perfume, q-tips not in a container and my face cream
    my mother.

    yay! I am terrible about habits though.. I put my keys wherever but I don’t panic when I can’t find them..they are always missing..along with my glasses and phone and shoes.. 🙂
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..There’s No Shame in Child’s Pose, Mid-Afternoon Mental MomentMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 19, 2012

      You might do well with my post about avoiding the morning school rush. It works just as well for adults. I do it even on days we do not leave the house. 😉

  3. Being observant is a window into creativity. A thing that sparks ideas and makes life so much more interesting.
    M. J. Joachim recently posted..Quality Crochet ToolsMy Profile

  4. Observation leads to patience in the garden, that’s for sure. I even wrote a new article about it today: http://www.effectivelyhuman.com/home/womb-to-tomb/patience-a-skill-learned-in-the-garden
    M. J. Joachim recently posted..Quality Crochet ToolsMy Profile

  5. This was another interesting read, and observation certainly adds to a more memorable time…

    I remember a programme that was on television some years ago where a short film was offered, afterwards questions would be aimed at the contestants and amazingly their powers of observation were truly lacking, strange then how I used to be able to answer those questions, of course nobody is 100% accurate unless one has a photographic memory, but your posting reminded me of this scenario, which is probably more common than at first realised.

    It is all very interesting though…

    This is a great posting Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • Red

       /  April 20, 2012

      We have similar parodies here where the average person is stopped on the street and asked questions about what they have just passed. Inevitably, the ones they are are those who had zero concept. It speaks to the preoccupied nature we have when we are walking around in our bubbles. I like this one got you thinking!


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