Why do you have to notice everyone in a restaurant and how they behave or act? And then why must you eat my head sitting for hours talking about why person X behaved or did what he did. Why? why? WHY?
Why dissect every nuance in a sentence spoken by someone? People blurt out things all the time?
I'll spare you the details of how I work my immense charm and get her to calm down but suffice to say, it is not something everyone can do. You have to be gifted and lucky. Mostly lucky :)
I have no answer to her questions except that observing people is my ongoing experiment. It might sound crazy but its fun and you learn a lot about people, which is important.
Observing people is like a hobby and a learning exercise. The more you watch, the more you learn and the more you learn, the more you understand and understanding people is always good. Ask people in any profession, from Investment banking to brand management, from advertising to publishing. Everything depends on understanding of people. So irrespective of the profession you are in you need to understand people.
It is said that to understand others, you must first understand yourself. This is perhaps the most misunderstood statement. It isnt a circumspect way of saying "mind your own business" But the best way to understanding people is to understand your own actions and reactions.
A branch off could be for you to say things for the heck of it and observing how people react. Some will be shocked, some amused and usually some won't care but each reaction or non reaction will teach you something about a person.
You could say this is a self learning method for manipulating people, you could be right but if you think about it, manipulating people isn't necessarily wrong in itself. It is WHY you manipulate them that defines the correctness.
Just walk into a mall and don't just hear people talking listen to them talk. Listen to the words they use, listen to the inflections in their voice, watch their body language and soon, by just looking at them, you will be able to tell whether they are genuine buyers or not.
A restaurant will teach you more about peer pressure than school. Look around and you will find people picking at their food and desperate to make small talk so they can forget about it for a while. Why? Its not because they are upset and didn't want to eat. If they were, they could've simply not ordered. Its because they ordered what they don't like. Maybe because what they like is the wrong thing to order with the crowd they are with.
Its intriguing to observe and sometimes even chat up people. It expands ones views and understanding of people as a whole. It can even make you more patient with them.
If you think about it, it isnt as creepy as it sounds. It is the most natural thing, to notice those around you. It is our "mind your own business" mindset which has created these silos and erected the barriers most of us live within. But we don't have to and we shouldn't.