Trusting Your Gut at Work

I get this question all the time in workshops that I lead so I thought I’d answer it. The question is, “is it acceptable to follow a gut feeling in the workplace”? My own gut is one of the most important tools that I have. That instinct or intuition is something that you can cultivate over time and really use for good decision making, especially in the workplace. But it is hard for other people to understand it. I think as you get more senior, it becomes more acceptable to rely on your instincts. The CEOs who I work with often cite their gut as the most important tool that they have. It’s more acceptable as you get more senior because you have more experienced and you have more latitude for decision making. However, I firmly believe that gut and intuition is so important at all levels.

What is a gut feeling? It’s that feeling when you sort of just arrive at some decision or some state of knowing. We usually feel it in our stomach, or some people feel it in their shoulders. It is your brain processing millions of data points way faster than you can think. So, through your experiences, through what you're seeing, you sort of just get to get to a decision and it can feel like the truth.

We live in a hyper-rational world where we like to justify everything based on data, on a computer screen so it can be really hard to bring your coworkers along with you when you’re relying solely on your gut. It's really important that you share insight into the decision making to legitimatize your instinct. The best way to do it is to let them know you had this gut feeling but ask if they’ll help you to break it down or poke holes in it.

Over time, you'll be able to cultivate your gut feelings by doing things like yoga, meditation and really just acting on it.

Nikki Goldman