People watching is the art of paying attention to the people in your immediate environment and noticing their characteristics. If nothing else, it can be a fun way to pass the time, a chance to get ideas for characters in a book, or simply a way to connect with those in your immediate vicinity. When you first start people watching, look for a well-populated area, sit somewhere out of the way, and avoid drawing attention to yourself so that you can observe people unobtrusively.
Method 1 Finding a Place to People Watch
1. Locate a neighbourhood that has the demographic that you are interested in. If you want to spend time with the elderly, consider visiting a retirement home. Post a sign at your local mall if you’re looking for families to meet. If you have a specific goal in mind for your people watching, avoid going to a location where you will not see anyone you are interested in.
The time and location of your start may be determined by the fact that you are not planning on people watching. Waiting in line at the doctor’s office or sitting in a waiting room are excellent opportunities to observe people in their natural environment.
Tip: Families will typically congregate in parks, whereas couples and singles may congregate in cafes and restaurants. College campuses are densely populated with young adults, and public transportation is popular with people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
2. Choose a location with a large number of people. When there aren’t any people around, people watching isn’t much fun! Avoid going to places where there aren’t many people and instead go to places like malls, zoos, parks, and stores where you know there will be a large number of people. On weekends and during the summer months, when children are not in school, establishments are more likely to be packed with customers.
Observing people in dog parks, art galleries, public transportation, and tourist attractions are all excellent places to do so.
3. Place yourself in a position where you will not be seen by others. If you stand in the middle of a walkway and people watch, it is inevitable that they will come up to you and interact with you. If you want to people watch without being disturbed, find a secluded spot where you can sit down. It’s easy to find a comfortable spot to sit in a park, a corner booth at a cafe, or a bench in the mall.
Whenever possible, try to find a seat that is elevated. Balconies and rooftops are the best locations in a building to enjoy the view.
Method 2 Observing People Unobtrusively
1. If you want to learn something from your people watching, set objectives for yourself. You might decide to go people watching simply to pass the time. Alternatively, you may be interested in observing specific behaviours and mannerisms for a specific purpose. If you want to gather information from people you observe, make a list of your objectives ahead of time so you know what to do while you are watching.
People watching is a fantastic way to come up with fashion ideas and character designs for books, movies, and stage productions.
2. Bring a friend to make the experience even more enjoyable. The experience of people watching with a companion is always more enjoyable. Take a friend with you to sit and talk with while you observe other people. While you and your friend are watching people, refrain from making fun of them or laughing at them. A negative or uncomfortable feeling can result from this situation.
Bring a small group of people to people watch instead of a large group. This will only draw attention to yourself, and your group of friends may become bored as a result.
3. Dress in a way that will not draw attention to yourself. You want to blend in with your surroundings as much as possible. Avoid wearing flashy shirts or jewellery with a lot of bling. Instead, choose neutral colours and clothing that is appropriate for the weather in order to blend in with the crowd rather than standing out as an outside observer.
Avoid wearing oversized hats or spectacles.
Make sure to wear sunglasses if you’re going outside to keep your eyes from being seen. Wearing sunglasses inside will only draw attention to yourself, so avoid doing so.
4. Bring a notebook in case you want to jot down any memorable moments or people. If you’re out people watching with a specific goal in mind, such as character inspiration or costume design, you might come up with a brilliant idea while you’re out and about. Carry a notebook and pencil with you when you go people watching in order to jot down any interesting observations or insights you come across while observing people in their natural environment.
When you’re writing things down, be subtle. Don’t take notes on someone while staring them in the eyes directly. Instead, sneak quick glances at them as you stand back and watch them.
5. Pretend like you’re on your phone or laptop, working on something. People passing by may find it a little disconcerting when someone is simply sitting and staring at them. Instead of bringing a notebook, bring your phone or laptop so that you can appear distracted while sitting and people watching. Place yourself in the position of a reporter or friend, rather than simply sitting and staring at the screen.
You can also bring a book or magazine to pretend to be reading while you are there.
Connecting headphones to your phone or laptop will make you appear even more inconspicuous.
6. Consider each and every person who passes you and who they might be. Making educated guesses about other people’s lives is the most entertaining aspect of people watching. Take note of how people walk, talk, and interact with one another in order to make educated guesses about who they are and why they are here to get the most out of your people-watching experience.
People’s clothing also conveys a great deal about them. When people dress in layers, they are indicating that they are prepared for the weather, whereas showing skin can indicate confidence.
7. Please refrain from passing judgement on anyone. Everyone has bad days every now and then. While you are people-watching, you may notice some people who exhibit behaviours that you do not entirely endorse. Maintain your objectivity by simply taking in what you see and not making snap judgments about what you see.
When people are unaware that they are being observed, they may behave in a different manner.
8. Examine people’s facial expressions and body language to determine their emotional state. A person’s mood can be conveyed through their body language. Crossed arms can denote anger, hunched shoulders can denote sadness, and relaxed shoulders can denote contentment or happiness. People’s postures and seating positions should be observed, and their emotions should be inferred from these observations.
A person’s facial expressions can also be a good indicator of their mood. Scowling or scrunched faces indicate anger, whereas raised eyebrows often indicate contentment or relaxation, according to the American Psychological Association.
9. Learn more about people by listening to their voices while they are talking. Take note of whether they have an accent, whether they speak in a high or low voice, whether they appear excited or frustrated, or whether they are excessively quiet. Make educated guesses about how they are feeling based on their tone of voice and whether or not they are enjoying their conversation.
It can also be entertaining to overhear snippets of people’s conversations without knowing what they are talking about.
Creative Commons License