Embracing Your Intuition at Work

Picture2Intuition is a funny word. Some call it gut feeling, others say inner voice, or it can bethat feeling in the pit of your stomach when I instinctively know something is wrong, or conversely when something is right even though the facts say otherwise.

Sometimes we shy away from embracing our intuition at work because it can been seen as irrational, based on emotion, and all about feelings instead of facts. InMalcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he talks about the power of those first 2 seconds of a situation where we make a fast decision (although he doesn’t use the word intuition) and many times this can lead to better results that working through mounds of research.

Disclaimer – before you get worried, I’m not at all saying we should make all decisions using intuition.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women on this topic. Here are the five situations (including a quick tip to get started) I shared where embracing your intuition might help you in the office:

Situation 1 – Taking Risks  

Ever see a job description for your dream job and then get scared off by the requirements – either the years of experience or the potential impact to our home life? Ignore the job requirements and ask “why not me?” Many times the listed requirements are a guide, not a rule.

Growth comes when we are operating outside of our comfort zone so don’t be afraid to take smart risks and say yes to opportunities. Use your intuition to guide you to the right opportunities – and then once you get them trust that you will succeed.

Intuition Quick Tip #1 – When considering a new opportunity ask yourself – “what is holding me back from saying yes?”  If it is fear, maybe it is time to take that risk.

Situation 2 – Making Smart Decisions

Just as important as saying yes, is knowing when to say no. I read this great article recently by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg that talked about women’s tendency to do “office housework.” We instinctively like to help people – whether it be organizing office events, mentoring people, or even getting the coffee for a meeting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we get great satisfaction out of helping people – I know I do.

The downside is that it can be time consuming and overwhelming – and it doesn’t do much to further our careers.

Let your intuition guide you and tell you if something isn’t worth your time.

Intuition Quick Tip #2 – When someone asks you to work on something you feel might now be valuable, ask the tough questions. Try “how will this add value to our customers?”  

Situation 3 – Speaking Up

We’ve all heard Sheryl Sandberg talk about leaning in and taking a seat at the table.  This is very true. But once we sit, we need to speak.

How many times have you been in a meeting and people are debating an issue. You see a clear and simple solution in your head but don’t speak up because you aren’t sure it is right. Then, a colleague says exactly what you were thinking and is applauded for coming up with a smart solution.

It is okay not to be perfect.

When we do speak up, please don’t apologize. I wrote a blog a few months ago on meaningless apologies. Meaningless apologies in the workplace undermine our power and authority.

Intuition Quick Tip #3 – Instead of saying, “Sorry to interrupt but I have a question.” Try “Excuse me, I have a question.”

Situation 4 – Leading Your Team

Don’t copy someone else’s leadership style – embrace your own.  Use empathy if that is comfortable for you. Research shows empathy is powerful to driving business forward and in building relationships across cultures.

At times we can instinctively know what people’s strengths – celebrate those and share feedback with your team and others if they are open. Also, seek feedback – this can give us the confidence to trust in our decisions. Self-awareness is powerful.

Intuition Quick Tip #4 – Each week, actively give and seek out one piece of feedback. Ask “how did I come across in that meeting?”

Situation 5 – Investing in You

I like to say you need to be your own CEO. This means taking ownership, pushing forward, and thinking strategically about your career – just as you would the head of the company but in this case, the company is you.

Own your brand – embrace all that is you. The Oscar Wilde quote “Be Yourself Because Everyone Else is Already Taken” is very true. Make sure that when you google yourself, you like what you see. Authenticity is the best quality.

You need to ask and share…share your successes and career aspirations and ask for what you deserve in the workplace.

Finally, surround yourself with a smart network that you trust. Rely on your intuition to help you determine who these people are. They are the ones who have your back and are invested and support your success.

Intuition Quick Tip #5 – Set up time to share your career aspirations with your manager. It can be uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to be. Try “I’d like to set up time for us to talk through some of the career goals I Have set for myself.”

Let’s let go of our fear, be confident in ourselves, get out of our comfort zone, and please stop apologizing.

I’d love to hear from you – was there a time where your intuition told you something and you failed to listen? How would things be different if you listened?

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Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/73GY8k

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