Gut Feeling, Intuition or Tacit Knowledge – How to Use It in Your Decision Making
August 16, 2011 § 1 Comment
Search for the words “gut feel” on Wikipedia and you’ll get emotion. Search for the “gut feeling” and you’ll get intuition. For most of us, its kind of our ‘inner word of wisdom’ that tells us something is not as it seems to be.
Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without the use of reason. It provides us with some beliefs that we cannot justify (this definition sounds like paradigm but it’s not).
It’s related to emotions because it’s an irrational response to a source that we cannot trust (or we just don’t have enough information).
It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or a CEO. If you’re required to make decisions, you most certainly have felt some ‘inner energy’ or ‘conscience voice’ that tries to take over your reasoning to make the safe choice. This happens because our mind whenever facing a decision turns into a Fight-Flight-Freeze response (FFF) behavior.
FFF is the response that prepares the body for actions under stress or danger. The adrenalin of our body makes us choose between fighting, fleeing or freezing.
To avoid making decisions in a FFF mindset, experts tell us to “sleep it over”. We are just trying to lower our adrenalin levels to think through the decision in hand. If we have enough information this should not be an issue because after avoiding the FFF state of mind, we have the tools to take a side.
However, when we do not have the complete information, but we have to make a decision our reasoning it’s just ‘not enough’ and the gut feeling becomes an important player in the decision making process.
If you want to be more effective making decisions, avoiding a FFF state and training your gut feeling you should:
- Become more aware of your thoughts and the impact they have on your behavior.
- Define your measuring stick regarding what’s more important to you.
- Align your thoughts with your ‘measuring stick’.
I can think of several books you should read to prepare for this (here are some of them) but the most important factor to improving your decision making process it’s opening up your mind. You don’t have all the answers. If you are given facts that contradict your thinking behavior you might be over influenced by your past experiences (paradigm) but if you just don’t believe what you’re listening (or looking at) it’s probably your gut feeling talking.
Keep in mind that your gut feeling uses your past experiences to create your “knowledge” and therefore we ‘think we know what to do’. This is why my only recommendation whenever you hear your inner voice telling you to make a decision that contradicts the facts is: Try to understand what makes you doubt of the information received, ask as many questions as possible (like a child) to answer these doubts and finally make a decision.
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
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- The Neurobiology of Brains and Guts (neuropsy.co)
- Decoding Intuition for More Effective Decision-Making (blogs.hbr.org)