Saturday, April 22, 2023

Confession: I am a People-Watcher

Maybe it comes from being a writer, maybe it comes from being cautious, but I am what you would call a people watcher. I have this tendency to watch and observe people: to see how they relate to other people/each other, what kind of story is happening behind what they are doing, what kind of people they are…things like that. 

Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

It’s not something that I do all the time, but I often do this when I am in one place for a long period without much to do. Mostly this happens when I’m in line for something or I’m stuck in traffic or something similar to that. It gives me time to pause, to look around and things tend to go from there.

This habit has given me this tendency to try to figure out how to read a person’s behavior from how they move, their facial expressions, or the tone of their voice. I think this has been useful in my everyday life because learning how to adjust and adapt to other people can help to ensure a smooth interaction or working relationship. I try to be subtle about it, but sometimes I do tend to stare if I am observing from a distance. I know that makes me look weird, but I do avoid eye contact when it happens. 

Another thing that this can be useful for is learning to recognize when people are not as trustworthy as they seem. With so many scams going on these days, this is a very useful thing to be able to do. I used to be a trusting person as a child, but as I grew older, I realized that not all people are good and trustworthy so having that shield of caution of having my poker face/RBF and being extra observant of other people is a good trait to have.

I would like to think that being a people watcher and learning about human behavior is a skill that is useful in everyday life. I wish that this was a class that was taught in school because I think that no matter what job you end up in, this is a skill that you can use in a lot of real-life situations. We talked about skills that are worth having in life on the Fandesals Podcast and I think I shared a situation there that reaffirmed to me the need to be more observant and aware of other people in our everyday lives. I embedded the episode at the end of this post, you can learn more about that story there.

Apart from being about learning to interact better with other people or being more careful around strangers, I tend to people-watch because I love writing stories, and sometimes the things I see inspire me to write things that I could publish one day. I remember one time my friends and I had a bit of a laugh because I was able to imagine a rich guy-poor girl story sacrificing everything for love just from seeing a handsome meal server at a fast-food place. Yes, just seeing that hardworking server gave me that kind of story. My friends say that I should publish a book already because I can make stories with things as simple as that. Even the smallest of actions observed can inspire me to write something if those actions feel significant enough for me. 

Another thing that I love about people watching must be the fact that seeing all these other people leading their own lives, having their own separate stories that branch off to other people gives me perspective about my own life. No matter how big my problems may become sometimes, or no matter how big my achievements could be, I am still just one person in the millions of people in the country, one of the billions in the world. And we’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we’re given. We all have different stories, going through different times of happiness and hardships. It’s a very humbling thing to think about. 

For more on my people-watching “skill” and other life skills worth having, here is the episode of the podcast I mentioned earlier. Enjoy!


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