1. Decide the parameters of your people-watching.
It doesn’t have to be creeper-ish. People-watching can help pass the time when you’re alone or with a group of people that don’t interest you as much. It can be informative, restore a sense of wonder or inspire you.
2. Practice naturalistic observation – not intrusive nosiness.
To be a successful people-watcher, you can’t be noticed. Allow the person or people you are watching to go about their activities without feeling watched. The moment you become noticed, you’ve become a creeper.
3. Remain unobtrusive.
In order to do this, you need to appear occupied. Have a book or laptop propped open or sip slowly on a cappuccino or other socially-approved caffeinated drink. If you are people-watching outside, it would be a good idea to wear sunglasses so it’s hard to determine exactly where you are looking.
4. Watch with good intent.
People-watching is an art that can be used to better yourself. Don’t watch to judge your subject; instead, take note of what you can learn from them.
5. Know how to react if the observed observes back.
The last thing you want to do is reveal yourself if you’ve been caught. If this does happen, however, it may be best to own up to your stares. Smile, shrug and look away.
A caf dweller is what I strive to be.
Midway through my second semester, I realized the potential of the caf to satisfy my social needs. I recognized that the caf is one of only a few places on campus in which a majority of the student body gathers on a regular basis.
For this reason, my average caf time for lunch and supper usually teeters somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 hours per meal. It is not uncommon for me to pull a two-hour supper shift. Earlier this semester, I reached my personal best of 2:40 for one meal.
In order to gain full social satisfaction in the caf, one must always be aware of who and where possible targets of conversation may be located so that one can carefully choose one’s path to get a refill. People-watching can be used as a means for planning conversation or as its own source of entertainment. People in the caf do strange and entertaining things.
However, successful people-watching is a science – a science that I am not very good at. I am caught quite often. When I am caught, I have two go-to moves. If I am caught by someone I know, I give them a friendly wave, which sometimes defuses the awkwardness. If I don’t know them, I act like I am waving at the person behind them, making them think that I was never truly looking at them.
I have found that the best way to counteract the awkwardness of being caught is to regularly do things worthy of being people watched by others. These things may include but are not limited to: seeing how many times you can catch an apple on a fork, changing shirts with your friend behind the newly installed caf curtain or the always classic act of cheering for various people in the caf for no apparent reason. If you catch people watching you, you will be less likely to feel awkward when you are caught watching them.