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Increased Awareness Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 19, 2011

Gathering Information

Another way to increase your awareness is to actively seek information. This method is typically used after you have discovered that a problem may exist. In the previous scenario, it would have involved talking with another person (his teacher) to get more information. But you can also gather information from more than one individual, or source, like surveys and opinion polls.

Focusing Your Observations

You have already learned some of the best ways to increase your awareness. To improve problem solving and decision making skills, you will need to take this awareness to the next level by focusing. No matter which way you are informed, you will need to apply yourself to get the most out of the information you receive. You must:

  • concentrate. Give it your undivided attention.
  • create a context. Look at the situation as a whole, instead of zeroing in on a small part.
  • be thorough. Your observations must be extensive and in-depth.

Concentrate

Situations occur around you all the time. Many of them require little or no attention on your part, such as your commute to work each day by bus. When you are a passenger, you can allow your mind to wander or even read or take a nap. The driving of the bus is taken care of for you. However, if you commute by car you must pay great attention, both to the road and to other drivers.

In instances that call for your awareness, you must pay careful attention. Concentrate on what you are observing or hearing. Sometimes the most critical piece of information is tossed out as inconsequential, an afterthought that you might miss if you are not fully aware. For example, your teacher explains an assignment at the end of class. He writes on the board the period of history you are to write about and suggests some sources of information. After many of your classmates have closed their notebooks and grabbed their backpacks, he mentions that your papers must be no longer than six pages. If you had not been paying attention to all of his instructions, you would have missed this critical piece of information.

Create a Context

Focusing your observations also means bringing together many pieces to make a whole. In order to make sense of what you see or hear, you need to create a context for it—understand your observations in terms of their surroundings. Imagine someone tells you about a problem that he or she wants you to solve. The context in this case might be everything that person has said to you before. Perhaps he or she is constantly complaining about problems, many of which are not really worth your time. In that context, the new problem is probably also something you do not need to concern yourself with.

In contrast, imagine that you hear strange noises coming from under your car while you're driving down the highway. You suddenly remember that yesterday morning you saw a puddle of fluid on the garage floor under the car, and that you had some trouble starting the car in the supermarket parking lot that morning. You put the pieces together to create a context for the strange noises, leading you to take the car to a mechanic for a checkup.

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