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Skill: To Observe

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In some professions you must be able to make a professional judgment about someone. You do that by observing that person. People who need to be able to do that professionally are, for example, nurses, daycare workers, social workers, social-pedagogical care workers, teachers, psychologists and trainers. But also selectors who assess applicants, during a job interview or an assessment, must be able to observe well.

Why are you observing?

A professional observation usually involves structured observation. You then observe for a specific purpose. For example, you want to find out why a certain child in a class argues so often. Or you want to find out if an elderly hospital patient is demented, depressed or disoriented.

You determine the purpose of the observation in advance and you consider what kind of behavior you will pay attention to. With a confused elderly patient you don't keep track of how often he sneezes or coughs, for example. How often and when he or she laughs or cries.

You consider in which situation you can best view the person to be observed. Some behavior only occurs in interaction with other people, so then you have to provide a setting in which those others are also present and you can observe the interaction. If you thereby want to look at someone's behavior in general, then there is unstructured observation .

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