Don’t Ignore The Power of Intuition: Why Gut Feeling Is Still Important

Posted by: on Apr 2, 2024 | No Comments

When it comes to making decisions, the ever-increasing availability of data can mean that it dominates. But especially when it comes to dealing with politics and communications there is often a balance to be struck between information and instinct. Gut feeling remains an important consideration.

Having information and data to inform decision is obviously important. It would be ridiculous to argue otherwise. However, there is always the case that there is only impartial data, maybe nothing at all or even conflicting evidence in some cases. That is especially true in a political field.

Added to that, public affairs is not always very good at generating data or being measured, despite continued best efforts.

While the data approach is often considered to be the gold standard for making informed choices, we should not underestimate the power of, and continued need for, intuition.

There is a common misconception that intuition is merely a glorified guess. In reality, intuition is the culmination of years of experience and accumulated information. Those that can process that information and experience are better able to assess the views and advice of others as well as any of information available to them. That person is able to deploy their instinct to potentially great effect. These people also appreciate when their own experience and information is lacking and look to supplement it. There will always be instances when intuition can step in to make up for gaps in available data.

We can all take steps to develop our instincts. It requires practice, reflection, and openness to new ideas, experiences and an ability to move beyond echo chambers. This means being prepared to expose ourselves to new and diverse perspectives and challenging situations that help to inform out instincts and allow better judgements to be made.

That means in the absence of data, or when results are unclear or conflict then that judgement can be expressed. In political situation, especially in meetings, that judgement may be all you have to go on. In a crisis, information can take time to gather that does not abate the pressure that will accumulate.

However, relying solely on intuition can be risky. Gut feelings are far from infallible, are inherently prone to personal biases, and can change with mood or tiredness. Again, having a balanced approach prevents these variables from having too much impact.

We should all take steps to ensure that our intuition remains sharp. That means continuous learning through training, reading, podcast listening, and conversations amongst other measures. This should be an everyday occurrence not just a once in while when time allows occurrence. Starting the day by listening and reading the media is a must. Adopting a more international approach to stay ahead of industry trends and emerging issues should be the norm.

However, for some people ‘gut feeling’ can be allowed to dominate. It allows them to dismiss other perspectives or ignore the data or evidence. That is the sign of a closed mind. When intuition dominates that can make people resistant to feedback, advice and collaboration. It suggests that there are blind-spots or biases that the individual is unwilling to recognise or address. This is not good for any organisation and should be a worry for its future.

Whilst it is always better to have data available when making a decision, that is not always going to be the case. Especially in public affairs when dealing with politics, data availability can be at a premium but that can also be the case during a crisis and at other times as well. Gut feeling, intuition, instinct, whatever phrase we prefer, has a valuable role to play. But it needs exercising and building just like a muscle and the brain. Fail to recognise that at your peril. Never ignore the potential value of your gut instinct.