In this post I am going to cover the I in our POLITE System. In this case it refers to intuition, please bear with me as I can get quite philosophical on this issue.
In our conflict resolution training, I regularly tell our delegates that every second of the day your brain is taking in two million different bits of information unconsciously. This sounds a lot but people are not necessarily aware of this information – consciously.
Intuition is defined as
“The apparent ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.”
In truth, the conscious mind can only cope with just seven +2 or –2 pieces of information (between 5-9), according to George Miller, who wrote the magic of plus or minus 2 in 1956. However, our unconscious can cope with whatever we throw at it. My definition of intuition is:
“When your unconscious mind spots something but your conscious mind hasn’t worked it out yet.”
Intuition is much more like a reflex, for instance if I throw a piece of chalk at you, you are likely to catch it. This is because the reflex action is your unconscious mind working. Another example of this is when you trip and fall towards the floor, you automatically put your hands out. You don’t consciously think, I will put my hands out, it just happens. Your unconscious mind is automatic, just like your breathing. You don’t actually consciously think about breathing every day do you?
Intuition is about using your instincts, it is when something is ahead of your conscious mind, to help you survive. It’s what helped the cavemen, so when they saw a Saber tooth tiger they didn’t think about it they just got out of its way quickly.
If your conscious mind and your unconscious mind don’t match, or if there is incongruence, your intuition may kick in.
So when you have a strong feeling of “this isn’t right” – that’s when I advise you get out of their fast. You need to go with your gut instincts because this is what you have been given to ensure you survive.
For more information on this theory I highly recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He is a specialist consultant to the Pentagon and is all about assessments and using your instincts.
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