Detail Oriented: What Does It Mean?

Detail oriented personality

  • What does it mean to be detail oriented?
  • Are you a detail oriented person?

I cannot recollect how often I was asked the latter question at job interviews. At the time, I didn’t know much about what being a detail-oriented person really was.

So I did a little research about it later in life and found that I was not close to being as detailed-oriented as I thought I was.

That’s why I wrote this article to help you to better understand what it actually means to be a detailed oriented person.

It covers EVERYTHING you need to know about this beautiful personality.

You’re gonna learn the strengths, habits, and good and bad side – and find out if you’re genuinely a detail-oriented person or not.

So let’s get started…

What Will I Learn?

Detail Oriented: Demystifying This Amazing Quality Employers Seek

Someone who is detail oriented may appear to be firm and come off as ‘tough.’

Typically, top business leaders need a great team of highly energetic, goal-oriented, and detail-oriented individuals to remain on top of their game.

Organizational processes, especially more sensitive operations, need detail oriented persons to run them smoothly.

So let’s take a critical look at this personality and dive deeper into the good and the wrong side of a detail-oriented personality.

Who is a Detail Oriented Person: Defining the Personality

Detail oriented person

Human behavior varies from one human to the other.

We think, react to situations, and do so many things differently because of our unique personalities.

It is believed that every individual’s behaviors and how they express these behaviors make up their personality.

We are wired to behave in a particular manner because of certain personality traits that we are born with and how we were raised.

You might be curious about what personality you or your friends fall under.

If you know the ‘personality-family’ you belong to, you may better understand why you behave the way you do in certain situations.

How Personality Traits Evolve

It might be argued that the various personalities in our society arise from evolution.

The supporters of this theory proposed that:

  • We adopt our peculiar behaviors to compete with others for scarce resources.
  • Develop personality as a means of survival.
  • Change behaviors to help us better compete for non-material things like emotional rewards.

An example of this is; that in families, one child may do better academically.

So the other, seeming not to be able to compete in academics, may strive to be exceptional in sports so that they will be loved for that too.

Furthermore, we’ll examine some interesting questions about human behaviors and personalities.

Do we inherit our Personalities?

A recent study by researchers at London King’s College showed that around 60 percent of the difference in siblings’ behavior and their personality traits are traceable to genetic factors.

However, it was found that specific attributes were more common among siblings because they shared the same environment than because of genetic inheritance.

At least, it is fair to say that our personalities are a function of inheritance and early socialization.

It’s difficult to determine to what extent personalities come from genetics.

It’s not easy to tell if one may have decided to change something about their behaviors in their life.

Or they may have decided to improve on some personality attributes or patterns in their lives that had been suppressed for some reason.

Read on to learn more about detail-oriented persons’ work ethics and other things that might interest you about their personality.

The Life of a Detail-Oriented Person

When the word ‘detail oriented’ is mentioned, what comes to your mind?

Let me guess; attention, being thoroughly focused on work or other activities, being particular.

A detail oriented person is painstakingly elaborate in showing all the steps involved in a process.

As if they never forgot the teacher’s instruction that pupils must show working in math classwork.

We can well define a detail-oriented person as someone who follows the rules to the letter, often never like to follow shortcuts, and rarely misses key details.

Now, let’s go on to learn more about the detail oriented personality.

This simple definition allows you to spot inherent patterns in familiar people and their roles.

Parenting & Management: Where Being Detail Oriented is Invaluable

At home, parents, especially mothers, take care of the details of managing the home.

Moms all around the world make sure they follow up with their kids and ensure that they do house chores or their homework properly.

Similarly, managers ensure that work is done well at the workplace. You can imagine why a boss in the office is usually demanding.

Managers follow through on organizational processes until the job gets done.

Carelessness is inevitable if no one oversees work: Sometimes, the boss has to go out of their way to ensure employees do the work.

This may be necessary to get the right results without errors.

Detail oriented persons possess attributes that help them ensure that things are done correctly.

These attributes may be inherent in a person, or he may have learned them through training, but anyways you can see why they are valuable.

Why You Shouldn’t Hate Your Detail-oriented Boss

For good reasons, you shouldn’t talk ill about anybody who is detail oriented.

Your boss, mom, or your colleague may have this personality trait.

Understand that they have to organize things. You’d also demand top quality from your people if you had similar management responsibilities.

Some features of detail oriented persons

  • Persons with this personality trait are known for being meticulous.
  • They take pride in being associated with the quality of work that they produce.
  • They like things to be done orderly: you’d hardly catch them skipping a step in a defined process because of time.
  • They are very good at organizing and planning events.
  • They work with the mindset of keeping the environment clean and tidy. They cannot stand a dirty environment and can easily spot dirt around corners because they pay attention to everything.
  • Have a higher chance of getting hired: the first time I heard the word ‘detail-oriented’ was in a conversation about employment. You come across the phrase frequently when talking about work. This is one of the most important qualities that employers want from people they intend to hire in their organization.
  • They take time to double-check and, in most cases, do triple-checks to get the best result in their work when compared to other people.

Working With a Detail Oriented Person

Work can be fun around persons who are detail-oriented.

However, to flow well with these persons, you may have to understand how to interact with them in different situations.

  • You should know that detail-oriented persons are very special; they may consider many details when carrying out tasks. Knowing this, you might want to give them some space when they do their work. At best, you should appreciate them for their unique ability.
  • In the work environment, they may seem to take note of procedures, which may seem like they have a checklist. When they use checklists, they may carefully follow the necessary steps on the list to the letter, one step at a time.

This person may say something like, “it’s not the time for that, let’s perfect this step first before we move to the next item on the list.”

While they may seem to spend forever on a task, the good thing is detail-oriented persons often end up with a great job done.

They criticize their work and check over to ensure their work is accurate and well organized.

Detail-oriented persons can be great team players as well.

When in a team, they may tend to be close to the leaders, trying to organize things or they may focus on a particular area that is vital to a team’s project.

Things may not always go perfectly well while working with a detail-oriented person.

There may be conflicts, especially with persons who have the direct opposite of their personality traits.

Conflicts can arise because of their approach to solving problems, and work pace, which may be frustrating sometimes.

Delegating work to a detail oriented person

Top managers may want to reconsider if they should delegate a task to a detail oriented person when the task needs to be done very fast.

You should ensure that the detail oriented person is given enough time or make them know ahead of time that they have to finish a task within a very short period.

Sometimes delay could be dangerous for businesses and staff whose nature makes them work slowly will need to learn to work faster to beat deadlines.

There are many possible areas to look into the relationship with detail oriented individuals.

However, we’ll look at how best to relate with a detail oriented person; both in training and motivation.

Training a Detail Oriented Person

If you plan on training someone with a detail-oriented personality trait in your workplace, you should skilfully present key details that focus on the main objective.

State areas that are relevant to their routine from top to bottom or from scratch to the advanced level.

During training, you should be able to show them the whole process or the big picture as well and it is best not to rush things.

Detail oriented persons will ask more questions when things are unclear to them.

You should be skilled at delivering presentations to them without drifting from the main ideas and try not to skip any important detail.

Also, during the training, you should be ready to take note of things and be prepared to learn as well.

Be fair enough to admit that you have missed details in the system if they point out something important to you.

Ensure that your instructions are concise and not flawed with errors.

You may take some things in life for granted, but you need to have it at the back of your mind that a detail-oriented person may follow your instructions to the letter even if your methods might be hard for them.

So being clear about the work process, for example, will save you time from training to work results.

Motivating a Detail Oriented Person

Motivating people with different personalities can be best done with some afterthoughts about who they are.

As people have personality differences, motivating them should be based on their core values.

To best motivate detail-oriented persons, you need to understand how they work and how they perceive rewards.

Persons with the detail oriented personality trait can be better motivated:

  • When you give them the freedom to organize their work in perfect order.
  • When they have their very own space to carry out their delegated job as they deem fit.
  • They may also be motivated if you put them in charge of smaller ‘sub-tasks’ jobs.

Also, always appreciate them for the contribution they have made. Tell them how much impact they have had with their ability to consider little details.

Someone with a detail oriented personality will always love to follow a particular way or process of doing something and so they may be reluctant to change.

You may have to convince them to move on to the new ways of doing things.

Strengths and Weakness of a Detail Oriented Person

Being detail oriented can be a strength or a weakness.

The benefits of being detail-oriented make it an admirable quality for one to have. However, sometimes you may need to suppress the detail oriented side of you to get along with people.

Below are some of the strengths and weaknesses that are associated with the detail-oriented personality.

Strengths/Pros of Detail Oriented Personality

1) They notice and fix mistakes easily

Even though some persons may believe that detail-oriented persons are perfectionists and are never satisfied with others’ work.

To be fair, that is not entirely true.

They can be appreciative of other person’s work and efforts too and encourage them as well.

It appears that it takes only a perfectionist to please someone who is detail oriented, but it can be exciting working with them.

2) Detail-Oriented persons are an essential asset to teams

Your people should be grateful that you easily spot the errors and suggest fixes. You will help save your team from embarrassment if you’re not a bossy perfectionist.

In the long run, your team members will improve and produce top quality results that you like.

Detail oriented persons are easily trusted and are valuable in the business world

3) They are often trusted with leadership roles

If you are detail oriented, you will be more likely to be appointed in supervisory jobs. You may be given this type of responsibility because top leaders will trust you to deliver excellently.

4) They consistently produce quality results

Whether in the workplace or the family, detail oriented individuals often leave a touch of excellence in their work.

They are committed to making their work very good. As a result, they spend more time looking at every bit of information and data that would help them to have perfect results.

5) Working with detail oriented persons may demand intense focus but the reward is worth the stress

One of my friends who is a music performer recently shared his experience of his partner’s critique of their work during production.

He whined about how his partner makes him work extra hard but admits a lot of the credits of their great music are attributed to those little corrections.

Most works of art demand this type of repeated trials until a perfect result is produced.

Similarly, in workplaces where top managers need the best from employees, intrinsic rewards are a great motivation for their efforts.

The Weakness/Cons of Detail Oriented Personality

1) They may be seen as rude sometimes

The detail-oriented person may expect people around them to work in specific ways.

Unfortunately, they may express frustration in ways that may easily be seen as rude when things don’t work as they want.

2)  May be brutally strict with assessments and many people may not like it

Okay, this is where the line between perfectionists and detail-oriented may be the thinnest.

Detail-oriented persons may not be happy when their assignments are done in a way and manner that doesn’t follow their instructions.

Their work assessments may be unforgiven if they discover that a task has been rushed over without much attention to detail.

On a bad day, a detail oriented professor, for example, may react to it in a way that may not be palatable to you if you don’t follow the rules.

And it may be worse if they’re already upset and transfer aggression on you. And you know “hurting people hurt.”

3)  May need extra time to work

You may expect a detail oriented person to spend more time working on a task than someone with other traits.

They may often need more time to check the finer details in projects, compensating for their excellent work.

But in the same time frame, other persons may have done relatively decent work and moved on with other things.

4) They may have challenges working under pressure and with time constraint

It may be challenging for some detail-oriented persons to work in environments where they are not highly focused or have to hurry.

They may feel that they are not working at their full potential.

Also, detail-oriented persons may often struggle to deliver tasks before deadlines.

There may be a good reason for delivering work after deadlines but this may attract some punishments.

In school, for example, you can imagine up to 5% of marks knocked off assignment score for late submission!

What Makes The Detail Oriented Person Unique?

There is that special one in your cycle which often notices things that just any other person would not.

This person may be very particular about every little bit of data or information.

Based on natural and environmental factors that are unique to this individual, they have learned habits that set them apart from their peers.

As a necessity, they have learned to be who they are with some special qualities.

In this section, we would take you through some of these qualities, patterns, or habits that you would find in a detail-oriented person.

1) Detail Oriented persons can read body language easily

When you are around Detail Oriented persons, you should be aware that they can get unintentional messages that are given away during conversations.

They can pay attention to body movement.

They can be very observant and don’t be surprised if they ask you very difficult personal questions from observing you.

The notion from Mehrabian theory that non-verbal expression makes up as much as 55% of the true meanings when feelings are communicated is very interesting.

For more about the Mehrabian theory, the body language expert is great, with a pretty good explanation.

It is important to note that the theory applies to when communicating about feelings and emotions.

Also, the percentages are only for what is said is opposed to the truth, and the body language gives away the true message.

A detail-oriented person would most likely be interested in these ideas about non-verbal cues and may apply them easily.

To some extent, this can be useful, and persons with this ability can gain an advantage in reading situations during conversations.

Body languages or other non-verbal communication may be applied at professional levels by specially trained persons like detectives who will need to pay much attention to details.

2) Efficiency is the watchword for detail-oriented persons

In a work environment or anywhere you find this set of individuals, they move with the mindset that time is of the essence.

Even though they spend more time doing their work, they don’t waste that time.

Every second counts, and they must be productive at all times.

3) They connect the dots easily

Detail oriented persons find it easy to connect missing pieces in puzzles.

Typically, this happens naturally because of the ability to follow the rules to the letter, which is unique to their personality.

The idea is that knowing the nitty-gritty of a process may help one remember information that everybody else may find difficult to apply to a problem.

4) They are detail freaks

Now, this is one habit that the detail-oriented has that could potentially be negative because it can affect their social life.

They may tend to read meaning into every action of other people.

When awareness of every detail is followed by complaints and pointing out friends’ flaws, they may not like it.

Being a detail freak can be a good thing, but it can affect your relationship if you overdo correcting or instructing your friends.

5) They’ve built-in extraordinary Voice and Facial Recognition Ability

A detail-oriented person can recognize voices and faces faster than other persons.

For example, they may be able to recognize the voices and faces of actors that may not necessarily be the leading actors in a movie.

Also, they tend not to forget anyone that they make contact quickly.

They can easily recall and place the correct names on the faces of old classmates.

If they have a good moment of conversation, they may be able to keep in memory longer and may remember quicker too.

Detail oriented persons have razor-sharp memory and can keep good memories over many years with startling accuracy.

6) Detail Oriented persons are great Micromanagers

Detail oriented persons can be very intentional about being in charge.

They can perform very well once they are passionate about the work and you will feel them in charge.

They may be exerting and may also insist that tasks be done in a manner that suits their style.

The detail oriented personality attracts admiration in the corporate environment because of their knowledge.

Their wealth of knowledge plus the extra care for the people that work with them can be the best policy in their management style.

7) Detail Oriented persons are Good Money Managers

Detail Oriented persons are great at managing scarce resources. They plan and think through spending decisions more than the average joe.

They may also be particular about analyzing to ensure they are not making terrible financial mistakes.

At some levels of management in the corporate world, this quality of financial prudence is very high in demand.

Some Jobs That Suit The Detail-Oriented Person

job interview

Some types of jobs may suit an individual’s personality traits perfectly than others. There is even a popular service around this.

Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tests exist that group personality traits and match them with ideal jobs.

A CNBC article has a Business Insider report that some “80 percent of the Fortune 500, and 89 of Fortune 100 companies, use it with their employees.”

In our present world, there are good reasons that detail-oriented persons are invaluable in most professional fields.

Below are some jobs that detail oriented persons dominate;

1) Accountant

The detail oriented personality is one personality that is very good at numbers and figures.

They excel very well as accountants because when it comes to money, you don’t need anyone to tell you to be extra careful as once there is a miscalculation, it might cost the company or firm a lot of money.

A detail-oriented person is required in this position because that ensures the firm will be less worried about dealing with transaction mistakes.

2) Architects and Engineers

Can you imagine if the guy who designs high rise buildings doesn’t pay attention to details that are involved with the building plans?

Imagine if he’s not careful with applying the science of measurement.

It would be a disaster, right?

Architects must be Detail Oriented enough because a single mistake in the measurement could lead to structural integrity problems.

Any wrong input of numbers would mean that the building will look awful, clearly indicating bad design.

Persons who are detail-oriented dominate the fields of building and engineering because of their knack for the least detail and accuracy in work.

3) Proofreaders

Detail-oriented persons work very well as proofreaders because they don’t rush through their work; they take their time to read every article.

They tend to see minor errors the writer would consider insignificant, or any other person reading it may not easily spot.

As detail-oriented people have a policy of zero tolerance for error, they tend to bring out the best in their work.

Many detail-oriented people work with the magazine and newspaper conglomerate as proofreaders.

4) Surgeons

Surgeons spend long years in medical school to master all the science they need to help them save lives.

In their job, their decisions can mean life or death to patients, and often there is little or no room for errors.

Detail-oriented persons may succeed as surgeons because they are great learners and follow the specific rules and procedures to the letter.

In surgery, focus and precision are required, and there is no room for shortcuts or silly mistakes that could cost them their job.

5) Fashion Designers

In the present day and age, fashion is one crucial aspect that we cannot do without.

As the taste of fashion increases, the demands for fashion designers are also high, but the best designers win.

Every fashion style has elements that determine the trends of creativity.

Detail-oriented fashion designers will likely appeal to customers more because they’ll know the areas to focus on.

Being aware of everything, from the basics to the trends in the industry, can also be an advantage.

One wrong choice can make a supposedly great design look bad.

Maybe something as basic as the color of thread used can be the difference between a good or bad design.

6) Programmers

Everyone feels the impact of PC and mobile applications today, and the world is moving faster because of computer programs.

Detail-oriented persons will naturally succeed more in this field because to be a good programmer, you need to pay full attention to logic, rules, and patterns.

Programming may not be easy for everyone.

A small mistake such as a punctuation mark can cause errors that will, in turn, become frustrating to people who attempt programming.

Most people stop along the way, but to succeed as a programmer, one must be persistent and patient simultaneously.

The tests that programmers face seem like what a detail-oriented person can handle well.

How to be Detail Oriented: 5 Tips to be more detail-oriented at work

Few of the quick tips to learn to be detail oriented:

1) Reduce multitasking

If you always juggle between tasks, you will be more likely to miss important details.

Instead of keeping a bunch of work to do, set your tasks in order of one after the other.

This way, your brain will be trained to focus more on that task rather than processing many things in the background.

2) Create to-do lists and follow checklists

The idea that you can copy the same patterns that detail-oriented persons follow to achieve the same results as they do can work for you.

It will become part of your lifestyle with a conscious effort to be disciplined at looking more closely at details.

3) Practice finding patterns

It may take some time to get used to this habit that detail-oriented persons mostly have.

However, with a commitment to the objective, you can better look at areas that the average persons ignore.

With practice will improve this critical skill of spotting hidden patterns and knowledge discovery.

4) Play memory Games and Solve Puzzles

Games can provide a playful way for you to learn a lot that could be applied in many areas of life.

With plenty of easily accessible games on your PCs and mobile phones, you can choose some that will help you learn how to concentrate more and focus more on details.

5) Associate with other intelligent and detail-oriented persons

A quote says, if you are around 4 wealthy people, you are the fifth wealthy person.

The wisdom here is if you want to have a habit or a quality that you admire, find, and make connections with people who have that quality.

How to keep good relationships with people while being detail oriented

People may not like you if you are a detail-oriented person who monitors your people’s work process and always points out their errors only.

  • If you are detail oriented and you perform a micro-management responsibility, you may have to be patient with your colleagues or employees. Ensure you have a fair balance between appreciating your team members for the jobs they did well and correcting their errors while demanding better results.
  • Make out time to connect with friends and acquaintances: If you’re a detail oriented person your people may not be happy with it if they don’t have time for them because you are obsessed with work.

If you’re too obsessed with some details in a study, you may miss opportunities to connect more with your friends.

Don’t take it for granted that people value those exciting moments of social interactions.

If you are too occupied with work because of your personality, it may be wise to make out time for other aspects of living.

  • Being detail oriented does not mean you have to be bossy or flamboyant, but it’s an opportunity for playing a vital role in solving unique problems.
  • Show a high level of understanding in communicating details with your people. This way, you can make your people like you.

9 Useful Tips For Detail Oriented Individuals

Considering some of the advantages and disadvantages of the personality, these 9 tips could help you get the best with your personality trait;

1) Review and evaluate your relationship improvement compared with other people’s feedback

Other people would notice many things about you, and they may talk to you about these.

From other people’s feedback, you can decide on the course of your self-development.

From Socrates to Plato, any way you consider it, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” It is a privilege to be able to think about aspects of your daily existence.

This will afford you the chance to become a better person.

Not just a single thing in your life will matter all the time.

You may need to think about things like creating time out to connect with your friends and family, and having new experiences.

Sometimes you need to give yourself a break and have fun.

2) Take notes

As you pay attention to details, learn to keep an open mind to discoveries and applications of knowledge.

This will help you to be a more successful goal-getter.

The notion that detail-oriented people are not big-picture-oriented because of a few observed patterns may be misleading.

Anyone can learn to be focused on the big picture while very good at the small details, the same way anyone can learn to be detail oriented by strictly following rules.

The habit of taking notes can lead to discovering new products and services.

3) Understand the line between being a perfectionist and being detail-oriented

To seek perfection is not necessarily bad, but the problem is when you become too obsessed with the idea that things are not perfect and you must always fix things.

There is a mental condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, (OCD).

This mental illness may be caused by obsessive perfectionism, and it may be a problem if one does not control one’s inner traits.

As always, don’t assume any health conditions and delve into any kind of self-treatments. Seek professional medical help if you have any health-related concerns.

4) Learn more about the detail-oriented trait from reliable sources

If you have any concerns about any personality problems, it’s best to get professional help. Feel free to seek counsel, as it could affect your relationships and your mental well-being.

Also, ensure that you look out for where you get your information. Quack sources may feed you with wrong information and poison your mind with junk information that will not help you.

5) Read situations well and adjust your behavior to suit the situation

This is an important life skill that everyone should have exceptionally detail-oriented persons. If you often get caught up in some fine detail, you can always take a break or readjust.

For example, if you’re a student, you need to know when it is practical to quickly scan through a study or when to have an in-depth study.

Sometimes in the workplace, you may need to adapt to deliver jobs quickly when it is required.

It’s wise to make a decision that will be in your best interest.

6) Design a time management hack

Managing time effectively could be challenging when you have loads of tasks at hand but tend to get caught up in one detail.

If you find yourself stuck with some problems you are engrossed in, you may feel that you spend so much time and seem to be doing less than your peers.

It would be a good idea to plan ahead of time and divide tasks, and designate the estimated time required to finish them.

Dividing the projects into parts with completion timelines will help you perform better.

7) Learn to multi-task sometimes

Multitasking may be a needed therapy for detail oriented persons.

Sometimes when you’re too obsessed with trying to solve a particular problem, you may be stressed out if you keep trying non-stop.

A fresh idea might just come when you might have moved on to something else.

When you engage your brain differently, you get fresh ideas rather than forcing yourself to solve one problem simultaneously.

8) Be economical with the mental activities you engage in

If it is difficult for you to juggle between mentally demanding activities, it might help to limit the number of tasks you take on at once.

This will allow you to channel your energy towards more important things.

9) Concentrate on areas of work that you will be more productive at

Specialization is a good thing for detail-oriented persons.

You may have to outsource a few of your jobs or delegate some of the tasks at hand to give you time to focus on what is most important to you. 

In Conclusion…

The detail-oriented personality is unique.

In every field of life, this personality is needed.

Organizations that weave the mindset of paying attention to detail into their operations tend to be more successful.

Private and government organizations need careful and calculative people to make critical decisions.

And it’s no surprise that most careers are dominated by detail-oriented persons in the business world and scientific fields.

Detail oriented persons may be destined for success in the careers of their choice but may face unique personality challenges.

They may also have challenges in their relationships with other people.

So finally, we suggested some tips that can be followed to have a balanced social life while being Detail Oriented.