Career Masterclass: Hone your intuition

Think you lack intuition? Here are ways to develop it.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Give it a chance. Intuition isn't inferior to rational analysis, it's complementary, and most CEOs use it to guide their decisions.

Become an expert. Experience makes intuition more reliable. Know your job inside out and it'll be easier for you to spot when something doesn't 'feel' right.

Take the leap. Delaying decisions until you have all the data is as risky as acting solely on instinct (think missed deadlines, missed opportunities, wasted manpower). Act when you're 40% to 70% confident you're right.

Look around. Our rational minds focus on specific details, but a well-trained intuitive mind notices almost everything: contexts, physical environments and social subtleties. Start honing your awareness today. How does your biggest rival spend his lunch break? Who does the CEO call most?

Play 'what if?' Military personnel make life-saving decisions more quickly when they pay attention to their bodily signals, so listen to yours. Visualise all the outcomes of a decision and note how they affect you. Are you anxious, drained, invigorated? Find the outcome that feels best then ask yourself why.

Create connections. Something wrong but you're not sure what? Substantiate hunches by looking for patterns in the information you gather, however small.

Scrutinise your hunches. Intuition can and should be tested. Look for evidence that undermines your instincts, test out counter-arguments, check for personal biases and ask others for feedback. How does your hunch hold up?

Spread the word. Instincts are harder to communicate than rational arguments. Build trust by speaking confidently and openly about how you reached your conclusion. Share evidence and personal experiences but present your hunch as a theory. Claim it is fact and you'll lose your audience in an instant.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99.

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