Pat Katz Pat Katz




PAUSE – 18.06 – How Is Your Situational Awareness?

Reflection: We’ve just returned from a month of travel in Europe where our adventures included visits to Barcelona, Rome, and Venice. These cities are densely populated to begin with, and they each host tens of thousands of tourists a day.

The streets are packed with bodies in motion – both locals going about their daily business and tourists trying to see the sights. Many people were thoughtful and considerate – others not so much!

One of the things we noted repeatedly was a significant lack of what my husband calls ‘Situational Awareness’ – a mindfulness around the impact that our behaviours have on others. Here’s how that played out.

We saw people stop smack dab in the middle of sidewalks – no warning, arms up, elbows up – to take photos. We saw tourists meander carelessly in heavy foot and vehicle traffic viewing the world backwards through reversed camera lenses on smartphones perched at the ends of selfie sticks.

Small groups of people frequently clustered smack dab in the midst of busy thoroughfares as they struggled to make sense of their maps. We were repeatedly whapped by individuals sporting backpacks – people who knew how wide they were but not how thick they were when they turned around!

We were assailed by ultra loud phone calls and personal conversations. The individuals involved seemed intent on imposing their messages on everyone within hearing distance. In one instance, the ringleader of a roving bachelorette party led her procession through outdoor cafes with a megaphone in hand – broadcasting a high volume commentary at innocent patrons.

Yes, these things happen here in Canada, too. However, there’s nothing like being out of your regular routine and away from home to heighten your awareness and give you a fresh perspective.


Action: So, what’s my point? Simply this.

It’s easy to see the problems in the behaviours of others – and easy to overlook them in ourselves. As members of the human race, we each might take a closer look at how our everyday ways of being in and moving through this shared world of ours impact those around us.

I know these experiences influenced my behavior while travelling. I tried to make a point of moving out of the flow of pedestrians to check our map. I looked around to see who I might be bothering if I stopped to take a photo. And, I tried not to add unnecessary noise and confusion to the commotion around me. All in all, I made a more conscious attempt to be present to the people and places around me.

Pay close attention as you move through your world this week – wherever you may be. See what you notice about others and yourself. And consider whether your own working level of situational awareness might benefit from a bit of tweaking to help create a more hospitable, more civil, less stressful world.


Quotes Of The Week: The impression you leave on this life and others is your legacy. You have the ability to become responsible for your actions and be intentional about your path. – Erin Urban

Being a little kinder is the only rule we ever need to know. – Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes.

Civility costs nothing, and buys everything. – Mary Wortley Montagu


Resource Of The Week: This Forbes article by Erin Urban, ‘What Is Your Impact’, offers some interesting thoughts on how our behaviours make a difference in the lives of others.

If you’re interested in a more in depth look at issues around civility, dip into this HBR article, ‘An Antidote to Incivility’, by Christine Porath.


Learning Resources In Print: If you’re looking for print resources to add to your workplace library, or to support learning in your training programs, or to use as meaningful gifts at special events, be sure to check out the publications available in the Pause Shop.

You’ll find books and booklets related to the topics of: stress and resilience, life balance, renewal, and appreciation. You’ll also find significant savings on quantity purchases. Write or call me for more information.

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Life in General, Miscellaneous, Travel, Wellness

2 Responses to “PAUSE – 18.06 – How Is Your Situational Awareness?”

  1. les handford

    Your words “And consider whether your own working level of situational awareness might benefit from a bit of tweaking to help create a more hospitable, more civil, less stressful world.” helped me realize that this is part of what I call the “chicken little syndrome”. Those people who look to find “where the sky is falling” normally small things and they tend to fling their arms around and make a big deal of it. These challenges often could be fixed with minimal effort with a bit of dialogue and teamwork. They do not have any “situational awareness” and do not see themselves in any part of the picture!

  2. Pat Katz

    Yes, indeed, Les. The Chicken Little Syndrome has a huge and often negative impact on others. Doesn’t really help the individuals who suffer from it either, as they spend a lot of time shouldering what I call ‘discretionary burdens’. Thanks, as always, for your insightful view on life. Cheers, Pat

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