The right way to use your professional intuition
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
You probably know the value of trusting your gut in your life — often, going with that instinct is the best course of action to take. Yet, when it comes to using your intuition professionally, things can seem a bit trickier.
You don't want to make a hasty move without backing up your hunch with concrete facts and data; but at the same time, ignoring your intuitive feelings, which are often honed through years of experience, is unwise if your choice becomes too technical.
Want to strike the perfect balance, and know exactly when going with your gut is best for business? Use the following science-based strategies to utilize your instinct most effectively.
Be realistic about the information you possess.
A study from Boston College found that a primarily intuitive decision can be better than taking an analytical approach when two specific factors exist: one, you have correct, in-depth knowledge about the matter you're moving on, and two, the situation doesn't call for any complications, like a second set of smaller decisions you need to factor into your major choice.
Here's an example: say you have to decide whether to purchase an expensive piece of equipment in your company.
If you've used this kind of equipment extensively throughout your work in your specific field, and you don't have to further discuss its intricate functions with your organization's IT team, then your gut reaction is going to be informed and accurate. You'll know precisely whether the investment is worth it.
Don't second-guess your impressions of a customer.
When it comes to trusting your gut about closing a sale for your company, it's key not to make the common mistake of rethinking what you believe this person wants, according to research from the American Marketing Association.
When you first encounter your client, note this person's tone of voice, posture, and the concrete emotions he or she is expressing about your product. Ask yourself, does the way this person appears indicate a true desire for my product? Then stick to the conclusion you come to.
The authors of this study say your initial careful observation will be enough to determine whether a sale is feasible. What's more, subjects in this study who trusted their first impression of a customer's interest made better sales overall.
See the big picture.
A new study from The Ohio State University says distancing yourself from the immediate specifics of a situation, and instead focusing on what's right for your organization as a whole, will help you instinctively tap into the right way to proceed. This is in contrast to considering how you or your co-workers will immediately gain from the business move you choose to make.
For example, it's better to work harder with the small budget you have sometimes than to ask your boss to further fund a project if you know the money you'll save will help your company's profits at the end of this quarter.
This kind of approach works because you're clearly reacting to the big picture aspect of the situation — seeing the forest for the trees, essentially — rather than getting caught up in the more granular details of what pays off at the moment, which can clutter your intuition.
Remember, the right move for everyone involved will always bring you dividends.
Mesh your intuition with the proper process.
Norwegian research reports that when you need to use your intuition quickly and accurately in a business crisis, you should proceed systematically as follows: first, analyze the details and information you have available, to see if they make sense in context with your gut feeling for a solution.
Also, review how your organization's guidelines and requirements will factor into the solution you are thinking of instinctively. If everything lines up, go with your gut — this is the best way to quickly combine experience with intuition.
Know this: as more information comes in about the situation you're dealing with, your initial choices may be wrong. It's fine to readjust your solution accordingly, refining it as many times as you need to as events warrant.
Ask yourself this one simple question.
"Am I being emotional?"
A solid gut instinct develops much more from what you know, as opposed to how you feel. Don't let anxiety, doubt, or haste cloud the strong message your gut is telling you. If that message is springing from logical experience and knowledge, it will be the right option to pursue.
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