The Role of Intuition in Business

6 Oct

Is it possible that “intuition,” a seemingly supernatural concept, is an important factor in the business world? Perhaps more importantly, how does one develop and use intuition? Finally, what can intuition teach us about communication in the workplace?

What is Intuition?

To fully understand the ways that intuition can be applied to business, we must expound on the concept of intuitiveness. At its most basic level, intuition “is knowing without knowing how you know.” Deeper scholarship has revealed that the brain is constantly collecting and connecting minute pieces of information.

How to “Get” Your Intuition

So is “intuition” something that you are born with? No! Intuition, like any skill, can be shaped, developed and improved upon. Trusting your intuition for smaller decisions can eventually lead you to more important “gut-based” decisions. Paying attention to details and perceiving trends are important aspects of instincts. In the business world, even small details can have large effects on outcomes. The ability to see the little things is an important aspect of both intuition as well as any financial or statistical analysis. Finally, realize that no decision-making process is perfect. Just because you were wrong once, does not mean that you should avoid trusting your gut feelings.

Economists admit that up to 60% of economic forecasts are based on intuition! Sometimes, situations challenge our classic thought processes and reacting using only intuition can lead to making very poor decisions. David Adler accurately warns that our gut instincts can be “terrible when it comes to investing.” Emotion, misinformation and lack of planning can cause irrational mistakes.

These opposing viewpoints exemplify the range of opinions on intuition. Business students must realize that every situation is different. In general, a balanced, informed and thought-out approach will lead to good decision-making processes. In other words, you should use intuition as a guide in the right direction instead of being the sole determining factor.

Intuition and Management

Understanding intuition can help someone be an effective manager in two ways. First, managers need to understand that employees will take risks and make mistakes when they follow their instincts. Even excellent employees will sometimes make not-so-excellent decisions. Additionally, intuition also ties very strongly to reading micro-messages. The plethora of advice about micro-messages makes more sense when one understands how active the brain’s subconscious really is. Seemingly minute details such as stance, tone and eye contact can trigger an employee’s intuition that you are upset with him or her. Understanding the connection between intuition and micro-messages can be the difference between an enabling work atmosphere and a crippling one.

by Josh Arbit


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