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Noticing Others

Noticing Others is a Connecting Skill. “Noticing you gives me a clue.”


What am I noticing about the other person? What am I sensing/feeling about what is happening for them?

Noticing Others means taking the time to focus and pay attention to the signals someone is sending us. Their expressions, body language, and tone of voice can all tell us a lot. In fact, studies have shown that more than 55% of communication is body language alone. Can we be curious about who they are and what their story is?

Why Noticing Others — The Science

  • Research on noticing distinguishes key elements of observation, including:,Noticing is selective. It involves attending to some phenomena and disattending to others
  • Noticing requires paying attention to context
  • Noticing means understanding the significance
  • Noticing patterns are highly influenced by prior experience
  • Noticing is highly variable across individuals
  • The switch as we move from perceiving the world from our own perception to being able to see others has a physiological component, correlating to the parts of the brain that perceive and then react to that perception.
  • Being able to manage our inner life lets us tune in to others with genuine care, and function at our best. The more upset we are, the more self-focused we become.  We tune out the people around us, tune out the systems around us, and we just think about ourselves.  
  • Success in personal and work relationships is predicted by skill in perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions.


  1. Erickson F. On noticing teacher noticing. Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers’ eyes. 2011;1:17-34.
  2.  Rooney D, Boud D. Toward a Pedagogy for Professional Noticing: Learning through Observation. Vocations and Learning 2019 10;12(3):441-457.
  3.  Plante TG. Contemplative practices in action: Spirituality, meditation, and health. ABC-CLIO. 2010.
  4.  Salovey P, Grewal D. The science of emotional intelligence. Current directions in psychological science. 2005;14(6):281-285.
  5.  Goleman D, Senge PM. The triple focus: A new approach to education. More Than Sound. 2014.
  6. Hall JA, Ship AN, Ruben MA, Curtin EM, Roter DL, Clever SL, Smith CC, Pounds K. Clinically relevant correlates of accurate perception of patients’ thoughts and feelings. Health communication. 2015;4;30(5):423-429.

How to Practice-Model-Coach
Noticing Others


  • When you have a conflict, large or small, take a moment and ask yourself  “Pause, What’s the Cause?” When you are trying to connect with someone, notice their body language, tone of voice, and energy level. Are you engaging in a positive way? Is there something wrong? Is it something you said? Is it something that you can help with? 
  • Noticing emotions and attitude: Notice what you see, feel, and hear in another’s facial expressions, tone of voice, or  body language.  What are you feeling inside yourself as you notice the other person’s emotions or attitudes? 
  • Reflect on the emotions that your family often jumps to when frustrated. Are they feeling anger or is this reaction coming from a place of being hurt? Take note on how often and what are the common situations which create these emotions. 
  • Noticing how you think about others. Notice when you are using negative words about others. What might an alternative story be? For every negative word you use for that person, choose two positive words. How does that impact how you see them?


  • When you are triggered and feeling a strong emotion, share this and name what the emotion is with your family. This is not to have them fix or change the emotion, but to help them learn to notice emotions, name them and talk about them.


  • Inquire, confirm and support:  When you notice your family members’ emotions (good and bad)  verbalize to them what you are noticing.  You can say, “What are you feeling? Anything you want to share?” Rather than just guessing, when you confirm your impressions of another’s emotions, you can better support them. This is not an exercise to try and fix or change their emotions, just take note.

Resources for Noticing Others