Details often make or break accomplishments. You could have an incredible idea for a new business venture, but big ideas are only as powerful as the details behind them.
That's why so many employers post job ads seeking detail-oriented workers. And that's why Steve Jobs revolutionized the tech industry; he was obsessed with perfecting the details.
If you often observe the following seven little things that detail-oriented people notice, you're well on your way along a path of success.
1. What people are wearing
Clothing is one of the most universal things that detail-oriented people notice. When they meet a new person, they note the outfit, the shoes, the accessories, and even the makeup. It's a simple, detail-oriented method for quickly assessing the ideal way to interact with a new acquaintance. A nice wristwatch says something entirely different than a bare wrist. Detail-oriented people know that, and adjust behavior accordingly.
2. Body language
Along with attention to clothing goes attention to body language. Detail-oriented people notice how other people are carrying themselves (or sitting). This social observation gives detail-oriented people an exceptional ability to recognize others' feelings and then respond appropriately. Is he slumping his shoulders? Is she holding her head up high? We already know which general feelings go along with these nonverbal cues, so taking the time to notice helps detail-oriented people succeed with others.
3. Misspelled words and improper grammar
I googled "detail-oriented people" and pretty much every random forum or column I clicked on included some mention of spelling and/or grammar. As a writer I can easily relate to this particular penchant for perfection; it's something I discussed in-depth in my article "Is Bad Grammar Killing Your Brand?" I notice when commas are missing, and, if you're like me, you may have noticed the missing comma in my previous sentence. Had I no point to make, there certainly would be a comma after "writer." Practicing this kind of attention to detail may not help you in your chosen career or lifestyle, but it's still a good way to identify other detail-oriented people around you.
4. The big picture
Sometimes the devil is in the details, and other times the devil is in spending way too much time on the details. Being a detail-oriented person is really only useful if attention to detail is sufficiently complemented by an eye for the big picture. Looking at things with a broad perspective allows the detail-oriented person to get an overview that can inform and enhance decision making.
When detail-oriented people simultaneously look at the big picture and its details, they can recognize patterns that connect the little things. An easy example of this pattern-recognition process is when you start becoming familiar with the streets of a new neighborhood.
When you first drive through, the streets leading to your destination are the most important details, and the big picture isn't much of a concern. When you drive through the neighborhood again to a different destination, the specific streets you're driving along are once again the important details.
After you drive through a few more times--taking different streets, learning different routes--you may then recognize how the streets were planned. Maybe the area is organized into perfect blocks. Maybe it's a swirling, yet patterned collection of cul-de-sacs. Either way, if you're keenly aware of the details, you'll likely notice these and other patterns.
6. Things out of place
Detail-oriented people often make great investigators, because they notice the details that don't quite fit into the big picture. When you walk into your home, do you immediately notice if something has changed? If so, you're probably paying attention to the little details of your daily life. Detail-oriented people usually remember exactly how they leave their personal space, and if something is out of place when they return, the difference glares in their face.
Remember those kids' puzzles that asked "What's wrong with this picture?" If you were good at finding the odd objects, you just might be detail-oriented yourself.
7. How much is left
Detail-oriented people are usually good with money, because they know when a certain resource is getting low. They see numbers as a tool to keep track of details systematically, and they use those numerical details to keep the big picture running smoothly. Do you know how much cash you have in your wallet right now? If so, you're paying attention to the numerical details. It's only a matter of time before that attention to detail pays off!