We are all familiar with that inner voice, that inner feeling. The one that tells us whom to befriend at a networking event, who could be the best candidate to hire, or whether to move cities to pursue a career path. For some, it’s so instinctive that we purely rely on this ‘sixth sense’ while others suppress it by focussing on rationale. The million-dollar question, especially in complex scenarios, is: should we simply trust our gut?
According to HeySigmund, the human brain has two ‘operating systems’. The first is quick, instinctual, and effortless. This is where our intuition lies. Intuition works by drawing on patterns collected by our past experiences. When we have to make a quick decision about whether something is real, fake, feels good, feels bad, right or wrong, we draw on these patterns. It all happens outside our conscious awareness. The second operating system is slower to respond. It’s more analytical, deliberate, and conscious.
Intuition exists in all of us, whether we acknowledge it or not. The more we can learn about it, the more we can hone it to better shape our lives.
Personality assessment tools show how we naturally respond to different scenarios. The commonly used MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) helps identify if you are Intuitive or Sensing while processing information. While Intuitive people look at deeper meanings, newness, and metaphors, Sensing people rely on their five senses, facts, and practicalities. Ensuring a balance of personalities in a team can help turn it into a powerhouse and support healthy team dynamics. MBTI is often used in talent management processes, culture change initiatives, and team building and leadership development efforts.
Another way of analyzing ourselves is identifying what triggers our fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response according to Simply Psychology. For instance, when we bump into our MD in an elevator or are asked to present a business plan overnight, what is our natural physiological reaction? How do we respond to stressful events? Understanding how we naturally respond will help us consciously navigate through our intuitions and instincts.
Test it out
Studies show that the more complex the situation, the more misleading intuition can become. HBR in 2003 elaborated that our desire to believe in the wisdom of intuition blinds us to the less romantic realities of business decision making. We tend to rely on information that confirms our assumptions, prejudices, and deep-seated need to see patterns.
So, why not test it out? Connecting with people at deeper levels will help test our assumptions. Complex decisions can be taken using left-brain discipline on right-brain hunches – through in-depth benchmarking, design thinking, using big data, gathering consumer insights, etc.
Intuition is not from outer space; it’s from inner space says Psychology Today. Being mindful of the way we feel in every scenario, every goose bump or quickening of breath, and understanding who and what drains us, can guide us in making the right choices. Maintaining an intuition journal and capturing winning moments can also help us trust our intuition.
Intuition is indeed powerful. Just ask every self-made billionaire. Backing our intuition with rationale will only empower us to navigate better through complex situations.