Intuition: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. ~Merriam-Webster
When my four siblings and I were children, Mom always seemed to know what we were up to, even when she wasn’t in the room. When we asked her how she knew, she’d reply, “I always know what you’re doing because I have eyes in the back of my head”. What a novel idea! We’d part the hair in the back of her head and look for the hidden eyes, but to no avail.
Now I know that “eyes in the back of the head” may have been a metaphor for intuition.
The truth is that great leaders use both logic and intuition. In the case of leading people, developing the kind of relationships that will allow you to influence and inspire others requires intuition. People are not always logical; using your intuition is essential. Many leaders could use some practice in developing their people skills and intuition is a big part of that.
A regular practice to increase your intuition might begin here:
Notice the judge. We all have it – that little voice that is constantly critiquing or judging someone. When you hear that voice ask, “Is that true?”. You might discover that you’re making up stories in your head. Throw the judge aside, and stay open to surprise; you just might find your judgments and assessments of someone were totally wrong.
Listen more. When the judge pops up, go back to listening to the people in front of you. Your intuitive responses to what you hear from them will become stronger and better because you are really hearing what is said. You won’t be searching for the right words any more.
Observe sensation. “Gut feeling” is more than just a trite saying. We have sensations in our bodies that relate directly to our ability to make intuitive choices (did you know that scientists have recently discovered neurons in the gut of humans?). Your emotions are also a form of sensation. Practice observing the body and emotional sensations that you feel when you are making a choice or decision.
Talk it out. Who is your favorite listener? Seek them out and ask them to listen to your dilemma(s). Many people find the answers to their situations simply by being listened to.
Be intuitive first. Make your decision first absent of any facts or logic (you might have to keep it to yourself for now), and see if you can back it up with research, knowledge, or facts. This is not dissimilar to the methodology scientists use in research, and it requires you to be willing to change your mind if facts and figure prove otherwise.
Do art. Visual art in its purest form is much more about using intuition than it is about logic. When you use your hands in an artistic endeavor, you might find yourself going with the flow rather than using rational thought. Keeping a journal; writing a blog post or poetry freely and without judging your art is another way to use and develop your intuition.
Using your intuition in dealing with people is simply a way of calling up what you already know but might be hidden to your conscious self. Acknowledge it, use it, practice it, and become better at your people skills.