Max Bazerman, in a recent HBR article on “Becoming a First Class Noticer” offered some wonderful insights into the value and challenges associated with noticing what is going on around you. Intuitively this seems very obvious and simple, but in reality it’s not. Like most human skills, we are all prone to different levels, with the net result that some are very good at it and many are not.
Bazerman went on to identify a number of challenges that can prevent people from being adept when it comes to noticing. These included things such as ambiguity (conflict of evidence), motivated blindness (self-interest), conflicts of interest, the slipper slope (small infractions that get out of control), misdirection (mislead by a third party) and indirect harm (fear or threat).
Notwithstanding that these factors that can get in the way, the control of one’s ability to notice can also be influenced from within. Here are five tips or skills which, with some conscious awareness, will help to enhance your noticing abilities.
1. Be Centered – how aware are you of your own thoughts, words and actions?
2. Show Empathy – what’s important to other people?
3. Draw from Lessons Learned – how can you learn from prior experiences?
4. Seek knowledge – how can you get more information?
5. Look before you leap – how can you show appropriate caution?
With so much happening all around us and so many bytes of information to process, it’s hard to notice everything. The key is effectively employing the various skills above so that you can ultimately make more informed decisions and do so by noticing all aspects of your surroundings. In so doing you will be a better leader, a better teacher, a better parent and a better coach.