14 Stealth Ways To Develop Sherlock Holmes-Level Perceptiveness

Increase your awareness today.

Woman channeling her inner Sherlock Holmes Paige Cody | Canva

Ever wondered how cool it would be to think like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot in their powers of observation, awareness, and deduction? You needn’t solve the next murder mystery to gain from the lessons we can glean from these sleuths. There are many ways acute perceptiveness can help us understand the people around us and succeed in relationships and business. I’ve noticed that those who struggle to see the finer details of the world and the behaviors of others often struggle to make the right choices and can be continually perplexed. 


Here are 14 ways to develop Sherlock Holmes-level perceptiveness:

1. Observe people

I love to people-watch in cafes and places by default. I now see observation like this as a practice like any other, be it yoga or photography. Pay attention to their body language, facial expressions, and gestures. Use this as an opportunity to get better at discerning their emotions and even motivations. You will get better at reading people through active observation like this.

2. Practice deep awareness

Most of us are in a busy rush, intoxicated by the chaotic mesh of our thinking. This just makes life more complicated. Make dedicated time to mindful awareness. Observe your shifting feelings in the body and become acutely conscious of all your senses and the information you can take in all around you. You sharpen your sensory perceptiveness while decreasing mental interference via this practice.


RELATED: 11 Signs You’re A Highly Perceptive Person — And See The World Differently From Everyone Else

3. Study psychology

Psychology is the study of human behavior as it relates to the mind. It covers many areas like perception, persuasion, cognition, emotions, personality, social interactions, and mental health. By studying why people do what they do, we can more easily understand and even anticipate human behavior. This is a vital skill in writing compelling words online, for example, and has helped me grow my readership to hundreds of thousands over the years.

4. Get super-attuned to empathy

Psychologists study empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Developing empathy helps you to see situations from different perspectives and gain insights into people’s motivations and actions. You can develop this through observation and even things like writing in public (great writers are great empathizers).

RELATED: How To Be Empathetic & Powerful At The Very Same Time


5. Be a details freak

Develop a practice of being aware of your surroundings as you go about life. Notice the more minor things, and perhaps even start a journal that emphasizes the fascinating nature of the little things. This trains your brain to notice things that others miss. The cool thing about this habit is it gets you out of your head and helps you become more present, so you enjoy life more.

6. Read widely

The most surprisingly creative people are skilled because they combine seemingly disparate ideas. Sherlock Holmes, for example, may have brought his understanding of chemistry to psychology to crack a homicide. There’s no shame in going broad and exploring areas you may not even have considered. The wider your mental bank, the more connections you can make and the more you see.

7. Be relentlessly curious

I say "relentless" because there are few things worth pursuing in life that don’t require a bit of a push — or at least — that society regards as requiring abnormal levels of activity. Most people are so curious. They notice some things but don’t follow through to learn more. But highly perceptive and amazingly knowledgeable people are always following their curiosity further and asking all kinds of colorful questions about life. The seven-year-old in them never escaped, and with this comes the reward of following strands most will never follow.

8. Always question assumptions

If anything looks or sounds remotely like an assumption or some kind of guess, you must question it. Ninety-nine percent of disasters and mishaps happen from a brain-dead assumption. "I assume there won’t be a blizzard…" were her last words. Assumptions are like locks that keep you in an illusory world with imaginary glass walls. Questioning the assumptions people have about life is what will free you. This will take you to breakthroughs and innovation.


9. Learn from your mistakes

When we actively look to take lessons from our setbacks, we develop a willingness to make mistakes in the first place. We learn that making mistakes gives us valuable data we can use to improve our next steps rather than being disappointed. This skill helps us remain open and attuned to our experiences in life, making us more willing to take calculated risks that move us further to the truth.

RELATED: Why My Biggest Mistakes Made Me A Better Person

10. Notice patterns and anomalies

Most of us are blissfully unaware of our environment. Not you. You notice changes in temperature, light, and even the atmosphere in a room. You know when someone’s usual behavior is different from normal. You enjoy this level of awareness. It’s not a sign of craziness. Craziness is the disease of most people — because they are lost in the dreams of a thought world. Being a "pattern-change noticed" will bring you security and untold advantages.

11. Stay informed

Stay updated on current events, global affairs, and societal trends. This broadens your knowledge base and helps you connect seemingly unrelated pieces of information. The more up-to-date you are on your awareness of what’s on people’s minds, the more you can understand and anticipate their actions. Keeping up to date with fashions and trends helps others relate to you so you blend in and gather vital information.


12. Practice disguised observation

Make a habit of observing people and situations without drawing too much attention to yourself. This means making full use of your peripheral vision, for example, or reading between the lines through active and deep listening. Think about this in the context of hunting, for example. Successful hunters are masters of disguised observation, honing in on prey without drawing too much attention to themselves.

13. Be more assertive

It’s difficult to get to the root of a problem if we aren’t willing to go there. Most people sugarcoat reality and avoid confrontation. But this only distances you from the truth and the real answers we need. Those who develop an astute comprehension of the world are assertive in their actions and ask probing and needed questions that others might avoid.



14. Practice memory techniques

One of my favorite reads on memory was Moonwalking with Einstein — a book by Joshua Foer about his journey to success in the U.S. Memory Championship. He used a range of techniques to sharpen his memory, including using a "memory palace," which helped me memorize the entire works of Shakespeare in order. In a world where most of us struggle to remember our phone numbers, you stand to separate yourself significantly by practicing this muscle.


RELATED: 4 Tiny Habits That Will Make You More Self-Aware Than 99% Of People

Alex Mathers is a writer and coach who helps you build a money-making personal brand with your knowledge and skills while staying mentally resilient.