Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, January 02, 2005


  Tall Poppy Basics Lesson 2: Observant

(I want to interrupt this post because we have just learned that our dear friend and former colleague, Congressman Bob Matsui of California, died late last night. Our deepest, most heart-felt sympathy goes out to Doris, Brian, Amy, and Anna. Bob was one of the most honest, sincere, and thoughtful public servants we have known and we were honored to call him "Friend". His presence on Capitol Hill and in our lives will be sorely missed...)

Tall Poppy....

Is highly socially aware. Tall Poppy reads faces and body language the way others read books.

Gained most of her outstanding social skills while fending off the Short Poppies and Weeds at the prestigious School of Hard Knocks. As a Young Poppy, it was difficult to see the merit in it all. As an adult, Tall Poppy is thankful to the Short Poppies and Weeds for the opportunity to find greater strength through those experiences.

Can pick out another Tall Poppy in a crowded room with relative ease

Can look past titles and appearances and see the true essence of the Poppies she encounters.

Always remembers Maya Angelou's advice: "When someone shows you who they really are, BELIEVE THEM!"

ob-ser vant: adjective: 1. paying strict attention : Watchful : Keen: Perceptive 2. careful in observing (as rites, laws, or customs) : Mindful

The businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie often said, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." Tall Poppies are unusually keen observers of people and situations. They have the ability to notice subtleties in action and word that escape others' notice. They are social detectives. They have a sort of built-in sonar that allows them to read between the lines in social and professional conversations to uncover unspoken messages. They see what's going on just beyond the periphery. They put more stock in what a person actually DOES than what a person SAYS they will do.

So why is being observant so important to a Tall Poppy? It's a formula for success. This skill keeps Tall Poppy ahead of the pack. It keeps Tall Poppy "in the know". A Tall Poppy knows exactly what to say, when to say it and HOW to say it. Tall Poppy knows what to do and how to react when in a group of strangers or when placed in the middle of a dicey social or professional situation. Tall Poppy can read the body language and "unspoken" word and know when to talk, when to stand quietly, and when to walk as quickly as possible toward the nearest exit.

Many people think that Tall Poppies are just "lucky". Tall Poppies are no more lucky than the next person. They simply know what to do, how to act, what to say, where to be, who to befriend, etc. because they are, among other things, observant. Do Tall Poppies sit around studying books and articles on how to "notice" things? No. They pretty much picked it up by osmosis after years of experience. And honestly? I think it may be a natural gift given to some. But if you always feel like you're "out of the loop" and "walking in at the bottom of the ninth", read the following links. They'll guide you in developing a sixth sense that will come in rather handy--I'll PROMISE you that.

What we can do in 2005 to build our OBSERVATION skills:
Listen. That's it. Just Listen. Think about what people are saying. And remember it.
2. Learn to observe WHILE you're listening. AND learn to be still and observe. Don't be rude and always be looking over the shoulders of those with whom you're talking. Just observe the subtleties within your conversation group. And find an opportunity to stand quietly and observe when you are in a group setting. Make it a habit NEVER to address a group without observing them first. Multi-tasking is a REALLY good thing no matter your profession or social status when you do it the right way.
3. Bone up on some VERY basic Body Language information. Understand what it is that others are inadvertantly telling you...AND, more importantly, what you're revealing to others!

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