Technique of the Month
Have you ever seen the film The Bourne Identity? For the unfamiliar, Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, an amnesiac who slowly discovers that he is, in fact, a highly-trained CIA operative. If you’re wondering what this has to do with the technique of the month, just watch the clip below:
The skill that Bourne demonstrates in the diner—having intuitively analysed his surroundings and drawn conclusions based on that analysis—is called situational awareness. It has roots in military strategy and theory, where it often means the difference between life and death. But you don’t need to have military (or CIA) training to develop this skill, and it can be useful in everyday situations—especially in the world of business!
Testing Your Situational Awareness Take a look at the video below. Even if you think you know what to expect, watch it until the end—you may be surprised.
So, did you spot the gorilla? The transforming curtain? The departing player? This video demonstrates two important ideas in situational awareness: that focusing too narrowly on one detail can lead to making mistakes, and that you should never jump to conclusions without as much information as you can gather.
Situational Awareness in Business Situational awareness is vital to your success because it enables you to increase your consciousness and awareness of your environment, allowing you to hone your seventh sense: the sense of balance, which connects your inner world to the world around you. For leaders, situational awareness is the key to influencing and persuading people to get on board with you. Whether making a sales pitch, forging a new partnership, or negotiating a contract, the ability to read and judge what is going on in the room, and to act on the information that you’re receiving, will always work to your advantage.
Developing Your Situational Awareness
Though it’s a skill that almost anyone can master, developing functional situational awareness is not something you can do in a weekend. If you want to be the Jason Bourne of the boardroom, it’ll take practice, dedication, and learning to trust your intuition or “gut instinct.”
The first step is knowing what to look for and what to ignore. In any environment, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of details screaming for your attention; your job is to tune out the information that doesn’t enhance your understanding of the environment and the people in it, and to focus on what does while remaining open to new information.
The next step is learning to establish a baseline; i.e. what is considered “normal” in a given situation. By understanding what is normal, you can free up your mind to look for details which deviate from expectation. Is the person you are meeting with unusually anxious? Does your prospective buyer keep checking their watch or phone? Learning how to spot and, more importantly, interpret and act on these signals will give you an edge in meetings, since you can adjust your own strategy to the situation at every turn.
Beginning Your Journey to Situational Awareness
You won’t become a master of situational awareness unless you start training yourself. The good news is you can train and practice anytime, anywhere—from your morning coffee run to the breakroom and even gatherings of friends and family, opportunities abound to hone your mindfulness, intuition, and sense of balance. The more you learn to observe, interpret, and act on what you see, the better your situational awareness will become!