The love of people watching

Make sure you pay closer attention when watching those around you, says Catherine Rutland.

Have you ever sat at the end of a train carriage and looked back at the people down the carriage?

It’s fun, I love people watching for so many reasons, the main reason being I love to see the variance in life.

I have my headphones in and my playlist playing, so it means I focus on the visual.

One gentleman sitting opposite to me was very intense, bothered by a lack of phone service and trying to hide his conversation by placing his hand over his mouth, clearly failing to miss he is on a public train.

Another, a young lady, focusing on typing into her phone with intermittent smiles, and it makes me wonder whom she is communicating with.

Further down, various visions of headphones and reactions.

Everyone seems too tired to talk to each other.

There is a lady standing who has one of those wine bottle gift bags.

Is it a gift to give or received?

I create my own version in my mind of her scenario and realise I will never actually know the truth.

Watching those around us

In dentistry, we do this all the time; watch our team, our patients and our peers – we often don’t know all that is going on.

Unlike the train journey, where actually it doesn’t really matter as I will most likely never see them again, in dentistry it does matter.

To do as I did and make up a scenario or think we can work out what is going on without asking questions, is a dangerous place to sit and watch from.

We miss picking up what the patient actually finds important and, therefore, how do we make sure consent is personal?

We miss understanding our team members and their real needs, problems and hopes.

And we miss really learning from our peers or being able to provide support when they need it.

It can be so easy to focus on what we think we know.

It’s a new year; let’s start it assuming we don’t know everything about the people around us and ask them questions, out of curiosity and care.

However, if you hear of some crazy train lady who asks everyone in their carriage lots of questions…it won’t be me!