Gut Feeling, 6th Sense or Tacit Knowledge – How to Use It in Your Decision Making

August 23, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

Search for the words “gut feel” on Wikipedia and you’ll get emotion. Search for the “gut feeling” and you’ll get intuition. For some of us, its kind of our ‘inner word of wisdom’ that tells us something is not as it appears 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 expected to make decisions, you most likely have felt some ‘inner energy’ or ‘conscience voice’ that tries to take over your reasoning to make the riskless 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.

In order to prevent making decisions in a FFF mind-set, experts tell us to “sleep it over”. We are just attempting to decrease our adrenalin levels to think through the decision in hand. If we have enough information this must not be an concern because after avoiding the FFF state of mind, we have the knowledge to take a side.

But bear in mind that, when we do not have the complete information, but we still 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 would like to be more effective making decisions, avoiding a FFF state and training your gut feeling you need to:

1. Become more conscious of your thoughts and the impact they have on your behavior.
2. Define your measuring stick relating to what’s more important to you.
3. Align your thoughts together with your ‘measuring stick’.

I can think of a number of books you should read to prepare for this however by far the most important component to boosting 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 preceding experiences (paradigm) but if you just don’t accept what you’re listening (or looking at) it’s most probably your gut feeling talking.

Take into account that your gut feeling is based on your past experiences to conceive your “knowledge” and this is why we ‘think we know what the problem is’. This is why my only advice each time you hear your inner voice telling you to make a decision that contradicts the findings is: Try to understand what makes you question of the facts received, request as many questions as possible (like a child) to resolve 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

Gustavo Valencia is an international (EU & Latin-America), award-winning, multi-lingual Group Brand Development Manager – with the commercial and market insight, strategic timing and creative flair to project lead differentiated brand development, product positioning and marketing plans to optimize consumer awareness and GP of world-class premium brands. He writes on about his marketing views.

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