Intuition and Persuasion
Having the guts to persuade other people to trust your intuition
I’ve heard it said that intuition is the result of our brains unconsciously processing thousands of bits of data. There’s good research to support this view and it makes sense when you think about how much of our daily actions we do on autopilot. For example, driving your regular route to work, without having to consciously think too much about directions and turns and traffic.
Others have written that intuition comes from combining years of experience with having a finger on the pulse of what’s actually happening now.
I read recently that the kilometres of neurones and nerve connections in our intestines are about the same size as the brain of a cat – an animal we admire for its cunning and fast-reactions. Maybe that’s reason enough to “trust your gut”!
There can’t be many good leaders around nowadays who don’t make an effort to tap into their own intuition, or at least to listen to what their gut is telling them.
But what can be much harder, is getting other people to trust your intuition.
This is something which comes up in my coaching with leaders and their teams fairly often. How do you get other people to trust your intuition? Especially as we’re increasingly in the kind of working world which stresses the use of metrics and which says things like: “What gets measured, gets managed”. In that situation, how do you justify a vague feeling that something important has been missed? How do you persuade people that your sense that everything is not quite right should be listened to?
For now, there’s one aspect of this that is really worth focusing on, which is about not waiting for permission to speak your intuition, and then doing so in a way that makes it acceptable.
The language you use is very important. This is especially useful in board meetings and other group situations (particularly if you’ve just spent an hour pouring over detailed financials and performance reports). You have to use the language of intuition, and know that it’s OK to do so. You can say things like the following, and know that they are perfectly acceptable, for the reasons discussed above:
- “My gut is telling me X.”
- “I don’t know quite where it’s coming from, but my intuition is that …”
- “I’ve got a hard-to-define sense that we also need to consider Y.”
Leaders need to speak their intuition in a way that has impact, otherwise they’re ignoring the full range of their brain’s processing power and failing to use their experience.
As usual, please leave me a comment if they’re still open below, or tweet me @NickRobCoach. When and how do you speak your own intuition?