Let's Do This Like Sherlock: Deduction 1 of 12


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Have you ever tried to make deductions like Sherlock? Have you ever wondered how your observations hold up against the large amount of variables that come with making an observation about a person? What do you look for? What do you ignore? This post is special because it marks the first post where I take a real life deduction and post about it. For this deduction, I confirmed with the person that I observed and they confirmed that my deductions were accurate. I sent them a form to assess the accuracy of my deductions so I have validation for this project. I will try to get it. posted once they fill it out. The hope is that I can evaluate how I would approach real deductions and begin to cataloguing examples that we can use to improve our abilities. Look out for these types of posts once a month. I would suggest taking one section of it daily if you don't have time to read the entire post in one sitting. There's a lot to take in and a lot can be missed by skimming through the information. Now that I have given you the disclaimer, let's dive in.

My Observation

Read this very carefully so you take in all of the facts or as many as I am willing to share with you. Before me sits a pretty young woman. She is about 22-25 years of age. Ethnicity is hard to pin down. She has black hair but half of it is dyed red. She wears makeup that is evenly distributed (good foundation) and has eye shadow. She just started a job at my company. (We work in a heart monitoring lab, in controlled climate.) I see a ring on her finger (not wedding ring finger). She has has pink nail polish that is in the design of one color but the ring finger is in a different shade. Her toe nails are painted as well. She wears the same sweater daily and has a blanket that she brings with her to work. She has a “Bang” energy drink by her desk (we work 10 hour shifts at a sedentary job). She has an Iphone 6. Additionally she has a pair of Moccasins to accompany her medical scrubs I presume. There are plenty of other things to observe, like her bag, glasses, etc… but I will stop there. The point of this is to get you to try and make your own deductions by thinking backwards.

Tip: Turning Observation Into Meaning

The first thing I would like to address is that when we observe something, we tend to not place significance to the items unless we are consciously trying to or something about the person stands out as unique or strange. So in order to get into the headspace of being very precise with my observations, I tend to write them down on a piece of paper. This slows me down and forces me to hone in on what is actually there, not what my mind thinks is there.

Exercise - But for this concept to make any impact, pull out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. If you have a computer or cell phone in front of you, open a note taking app. Look at something in the room where you are sitting. It can be anything from a cat to a napkin. Now, look away from the thing being observed. How much do you remember about it? How much detail did you assign to the observation? Now, look at the item again and write down your observations. You might be surprised at how much detail you actually missed. Writing things down, forces us to slow down and concentrate. So this is my first piece of advice when it comes to observation. Write down what you see. So write down my observation for yourself. (Found in the "Observation" section of this page)

When you are simply observing, you are taking in bits of information. Unfortunately our brains aren't like a computer that downloads files and programs. The closest thing that comes to that is Hyperthymesia or an eidetic memory. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Even if you could remember everything you saw, it doesn't mean that you assign value to what you see. Without applying meaning, your observations will generally be superficial or fleeting. That is, they won't feel like they last for more than a first impression and won't really mean anything.

For example, let's pretend there is a person that is sitting right across from us. They are wearing glasses and drinking a coffee. Without thinking twice about it, our brain registers this information and moves on. We might recall that later on, but it doesn't mean anything to us. Now let's take a moment to try to assign meaning to one piece of information here. Why are they wearing glasses?

Are they wearing them to get rid of glare, to reduce blue light, because they are near or far sighted, to block out the sun, to appear trendy or smart. Narrow down the choices based on what you know about the person. If they have a book with them, they probably aren't trying to appear smart but maybe need the glasses. But that might be premature. Do they have a special tint? Can you tell based on looking through the lens if they distort your vision? Etc... Once you assign meaning, try to spend time getting the details of the glasses. How old are they? What's the brand? What does the style say about the person? Are there any nicks or scratches? Are they dirty? Askin