When people talk about something being intuitive, like a smart phone or computer application, we often think that means you can use it without thinking.
The truth is that intuition could be described as another, possibly more comprehensive form of thinking, and when we use it effectively it helps us make better decisions.
Study after study has shown that our brains process more information and store it in more ways than we consciously know.
Since we have this data rattling around in our systems, why not use it to make better decisions? Here are three ways to get in touch with what you don’t know you know:
1. Be sense-able.
Pay attention to the vast array of sensory input you receive. Think of the terms we use to describe intuition, like listening to your gut, or that little voice inside you, and start boosting your sixth sense by really using the five basic ones. Listen to people’s vocal quality, watch their faces and their bodies while they speak. Sometimes you might find a disconnect between what their words say and the rest of them reveals, like when your co-worker crosses his arms and turns down his mouth and says he’s happy to help out with your project. By noting his reluctance, you can avoid burning him out or having crucial work go undone.
2. Use your memory. Freely.
Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Miss Marple solved murder mysteries by remembering residents of her hometown. If the Count’s ne’er do well heir reminded her of the truehearted milkman’s son in St. Marys Mead, then he was probably lying to protect the woman he loved. And so on. If something about a situation feels familiar to you, figure out why, and see what that teaches you. You might not solve any crimes, but you can stay out of workplace jams and make the most of emerging opportunities.
3. Look for alignment.
Sometimes things don’t sit right, like a wheel that’s not in sync with the others. Don’t ignore what makes you uncomfortable, like the colleague who says she’s happy you’re chairing the work group, but tries to run every meeting. Track it down to its source and see what you can do.
To get your intuition working for you, pay more attention to what’s said and not said, find links with prior experience and dig into what bugs you.
Would you call that not thinking?
by Danielle Dresden