Sherlock Holmes Observation is not Elementary

Think about this. Tomorrow you will be struck in the head with a piece of the space shuttle and lose your sight. Would you spend your last day sitting in front of the flat panel TV or feverishly trying to reach the end of the internet? In all probability, you would run outside and see as much of the world and as many of your close friends as you could. You would hang on every crease in someone’s face or the beauty of the monarch butterfly floating between the radiant scented flowers. These are items you see every day, but have chosen to ignore.

Observing is a platform for exploration and developing relationships. Your observations will be your introduction into identifying common points of interest. Once you have established your mutual commonality, you can then begin the interview process to deepen rapport and the relationship.

Sherlock-Holmes-007Sherlock Holmes said, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Perhaps you have heard that statement uttered on the brilliant new CBS show, Elementary. I love watching Sherlock’s observations and deductive reasoning.  Many of us are so consumed with life and electronics that we fail to observe the obvious. Our brain has limited resources for processing external stimuli and often we miss the obvious.  Look at this short video developed by Professor Daniel Simons. Despite being focused on the video, fifty percent will miss obvious events.:

Instead of solving crimes like Sherlock Holmes, how about using your observation skills to develop rapport with a neighbor, date or a sales client. To become adept at observing, you must be open to all senses. Your body is always open to the stimulation of sights and sounds, but how about the feel of a new couch, the smell of a new car, or the taste of a great meal, in which you decipher a particular spice. Can you decipher the scent of the cologne or perfume of your love interest? You cannot walk into a Starbucks without your sense of smell being invigorated by the aroma of coffee. Look for a logo on a shirt or an unusual accessory to compliment.

I recently accompanied my wife for a simple surgical procedure. I surprised the radiologist when I asked if he enjoyed his bike. He had a puzzled look, as did my wife. I clarified with him concerning his motorcycle. He admitted that he did ride and asked how I knew. I observed the white lines creased into his tanned skin from the sunglasses running between the eyes to his ears. Yes, he could have spent the weekend fishing, but I had surveyed his clunky jewelry and took an educated guess based on observations. If he was not on early morning pre-op rounds, I could have asked what kind of motorcycle he rode, what was his favorite road trip and where he enjoys riding locally. From the doctor standpoint, I could have asked where he went to medical school and how long he had been in medicine and where he was raised.

Most times if you have done your homework, you will find that you have a common point of interest with your conversational partner. Your goal is to turn them into a friend. Combined with background information and your powers of observation, you will be able to identify common points of interest. Expertise in this endeavor will come from experience and practice. You do not have to be Sherlock Holmes or Joan Watson on Elementary to become an adept observer.

For more tips on increasing your powers of observations and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE :

This entry was posted in Body Language, First Impressions, Observation, Rapport and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sherlock Holmes Observation is not Elementary

  1. Fiona Quinn says:

    Fun video and article – I’ll be using it in tomorrow’s lesson plan – you’re shaping the minds of our future.

    Cheers ~ Fiona

  2. Pedro COMPETENTOBS says:

    What a great article Mike!!! I was astonished with Brain Games on Nat Geo ( when they show us, in practice, how frail is the human perception…. :) As competent observers we should really make a conscient effort to improve (self/others awarence) and train it.
    When we are tired or emotionally aroused we become even more “blind”. When establishing rapport with particular persons (that affect us in some way, whatever the reason is) I noticed that if I force myself to breath slowly, my observation and reasoning becomes much better that when I don´t monitor my it (I´m in between the timid and the extrovert category:). Please keep writting, Thank you !!! Cheers!

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