You know my methods, it is founded upon the observation of trifles’

To some it may seem a little trite and possibly even cliche to ponder on what I am about to discuss however, I have found great benefit in the reading of details through objects that people posses and carry with them. There has been many texts written on this topic, perhaps none more popular than this SNOOP and in my humble opinion, the bibliography alone is worth the price of the book as it allows you to develop your own research skills using their reference material.

This is one of those tasks that to describe is utterly simple. However, to do this does require a spot of work as it blends together any background knowledge you care to develop along with your management of state to control how much you are able to observe -and therefore reason from. When you step into this field of reading people the first thing you hear from is the big boys of body language, facial expressions, and deception detection. These are all well and good but if you think about this as developing a tool box inside your head then sometimes you don’t need a sledgehammer to hang a painting.

To give you an allegorical anecdote I’ll use my last trip to the hospital; It was when I first found out that I had kidney stones (the single most painful experience of my life) and I am sat in the GP’s office before being sent to said hospital to be further checked out. Naturally, I am looking for distractions during my intermittent moments of being doubled over a bed and sweating with debilitating anguish. I looked under the desk. I saw a water bottle on the table, a photo of her children pinned to a pin board and I noticed her jewellery when she walked in.

After a couple of questions regarding my insides, I asked her when the wedding was? “Big moment for your daughter coming up?” I exclaimed, mostly just to fill in the silence. Under her desk was a bag with very new trainers on top; she wasn’t wearing them to work in the way that nurses might as her job is less active. At this point when I was seen it was a little after 3pm so nearly quitting time. Gym after work maybe? Why? Water bottle for hydration, health inclinations. New regime maybe? Why? Photo pinned to a wall, not in a frame. This was her office as her name was etched into the door itself and not on a slide sign you could take out. Something to look forward to? The photo was at the wedding of the young man pictured as he was dressed in a traditional suit and the woman in a beautiful dress, however this was not a bridal dress. The man wasn’t marrying the women in the picture so why would she have it? Kid? Something to look forward to enough to change your current regime and put best foot forward. Conclusion? Daughter’s wedding. I didn’t even ask any further questions but I affected her to such a degree that she called an ambulance to take me to the hospital so I wouldn’t have to drive. As I am reliably informed by my Fiancee who works as an Emergency Call handler, this is very unusual practice! 

So what can we learn from that? Regardless of your background or current knowledge management of state is of paramount importance. If we are not in the right frame of mind then details can be missed and we can fail to reason from what it is that we have actually seen. This starts with an awareness of what your body does during the various emotive states that you experience. In understanding this you can then force an almost bio-mechanical override to your state, very much in the same way that forcing a smile onto your face can have similar neurological effects just on a smaller scale.

Observational memory training or, situational awareness to give it the buzzword is a retentive awareness that arises out of this. Constantly repeating what you have seen by rote is only going to make you too inwardly focused. From a stoic perspective, this will kill any relationship development you are trying to create. Background knowledge is key – If you don’t know the difference between a bridal dress and traditional dress a wedding guest would wear then you can’t reason the details from it. If you don’t know that oil on overalls, kneepads and a Griffin emblem is likely to indicate a particular mechanic then you cant reason this information from your observation. 

What is the by product of this and how does it benefit you and everyone else around you? Regardless of what you do for a living, this will force your engagement into the world around you. Everyone can pick up on those interested and those that aren’t. Those they feel more connected to and those they do not. It stems from how engaged you are in the action of your day to day lives or are you passive to it? To paraphrase Holmes, do you see or observe? 

A person’s wallet once told me of their disposable income levels, the type of details they carry inside, if they are a cash or card person, any membership clubs they are a part of, hobbies and interests, smoking and drinking habits. A person’s phone can tell you so much more than how much it cost. Are they a disposable, conscientious, extraverted, cleanliness, Gambler? And all the affiliated psychological links therein? Not all at once obviously, however the devil is in the details. I can now use this information to connect on a more detailed and immediate level to those around me. I can use this information to help and progress those I work with. 

I realise this is a fairly speedy whistle-stop tour of a huge topic however these posts are there to illuminate the benefits that inherently Sherlockian practices can have in todays world. The Monographs has chapters on the details that can be found on phones, wallets, bags, shoes, clothes, tattoos and more.

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Don’t be strangers, do stay in touch.

Ben x