By John Winger
You know that feeling when you have a dilemma? It borders with powerlessness. It is not really a lack of power, though. You are in control because you can, and you will make a decision. But it’s not always that simple. And then there is that widespread solution often given to people choosing between two pairs of shoes: pick one pair, and if you feel a slight hint of regret, go with the other one. This is that gut feeling telling you what is right. Indeed, this is a very plastic example and should, by no means, govern your future decision-making. But instincts certainly play a significant role in our decision-making processes daily. However, as always, there are pros and cons of following your instincts in business. And this article will shed some light on the advantages and dangers of trusting your gut in business.
Instincts are essentially our subconscious thoughts. Although we are not aware of them, they significantly inform our daily decisions. Our past experiences, emotions, logic, knowledge, circumstances, and awareness influence these subconscious thoughts.
Naturally, since a gut feeling is basically a calculated guess, trusting it comes with some risks. Therefore, before you resort to your instincts to make decisions in the business setting, or any setting for that matter, you have to have a clear picture of what is at stake. Then you have to weigh the risks against the potential benefits.
Pros of following your instincts in business
There are many advantages of following your gut feeling in business. Here are some of them:
Your instincts are valuable when there is a lack of factual data
When you have no factual data to base your decisions upon, your instincts will help you tremendously. They will help you determine in which direction to go. Also, you have to understand that this is only possible when the decision doesn’t necessitate any precise measurements.
Emotional intelligence is an essential aspect of running a successful business or managing a project
The most successful managers and business owners can use their emotional intelligence when devising their strategic plans. Instincts can be very helpful, particularly when combined with other data. Of course, it is of the utmost importance to eliminate bias from the equation when following your instincts in business. Combining your gut feeling with factual information will allow you to approach an issue, task, or idea from many different sides. And that can only be a positive thing.
As we have mentioned, given that instincts are intangible, following them is risky. However, combined with quantifiable data, your instincts will become a powerful tool allowing you to achieve even better results than relying solely on facts.
Instincts help you be more flexible
Being able to make more of the factual information by combining it with your gut feelings will make room for more flexibility and adaptability. What is more, such a way of thinking will allow for a multifaceted analysis of business situations, leading to better decision-making and, consequently, better results.
Trusting your instincts in business can give you a confidence boost
One of the advantages of trusting your guts is the ability to react fast and reduce time wasted on deliberating. And if the decision proves right, it can give you a massive self-confidence boost. At the same time, if you make a wrong decision, you won’t feel so distressed as you would if you had disregarded your instincts only to realize that they would have been right.
Cons of following your instincts in business
As we have already explained, instincts are intangible and non-quantifiable. As such, trusting them carries an amount of risk that you have to carefully evaluate before making any decisions. Here are some of the dangers of following your gut feeling in business:
Using your instincts as a substitute for data-driven judgment
You cannot use your instincts in place of sound judgment you would base on facts and factual data. If you do, you will likely miss signs of trouble. Therefore, you must never let your gut feelings take precedence over facts and figures. If you have a set of calculations that offer you precise information, you cannot disregard them. These have a purpose. And that purpose is to identify, capture, and document your business or project KPIs (key performance indicators).
Some industries function solely on quality-based metrics
If you work in an industry that relies on precise and sensitive metrics, following your instincts will likely end poorly.
Bias can be tricky to eliminate
Our instincts can be highly affected by our bias. Thus, it is necessary to analyze the situation with a critical mind, eliminating sentiment. It is especially important if you are facing a subject of sentimental value to you. In those cases, it’s best not to follow your guts.
Human beings are often governed by emotions
Often, we have difficulties eliminating our feelings from any equation. Thus, it’s pretty challenging to separate our instincts from our emotions. So, if we make any instinctual decisions while we are angry, sad, or scared, we are most likely to be wrong.
Just like it can boost self-confidence, instinctual decision-making can also shatter it
If there has been a series of bad decisions we have based on our instincts, it can lead to reduced self-confidence in our general decision-making capabilities. As a result, we stop trusting our instincts even when we really should.
Also, if there has been a series of good instinctual decisions, we may become smug. And that is also not a good thing. It’s crucial to keep in mind that our gut feelings can sometimes be wrong. And if we get too complacent, we risk a disaster.
The bottom line
As you can see, following your instincts in business can be highly rewarding and very detrimental if you are not careful. In general, the best decisions are those based on a combination of gut feelings and data-driven analysis. So, whenever you have a decision to make, analyze the situation carefully and critically, and gather all the necessary information. And then, if you still aren’t sure what to do, listen to what your instincts are telling you.
John Winger is a project manager at Convert More. He loves his job and often contributes to the blog on their website. He also occasionally cooperates with other websites, creating content that business owners and managers can find helpful. His primary focus is on management styles, necessary qualities for good managers, and coping with problems at work. John is an avid reader and a father, so he spends his free time with his son, often reading books and inventing new stories.