What exactly is intuition? You may believe it's a supernatural force, or simply the brain analyzing facts at a subconscious level and sending you "hunches" based on that analysis. Either way, there's no denying that intuition is a powerful force in the business world. Donald Trump and Conrad Hilton are just two of the business icons who've relied on intuition to help them make smarter business decisions.
Highly developed intuition is a "secret weapon," says Judith Orloff, MD, professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Dr. Judith Orloff's Guide to Intuitive Healing. "It gives you all kinds of information you wouldn't normally have. This isn't the brain analyzing; this is nonlinear knowledge. It's a second kind of intelligence. You want to use both."
But what if you're someone like me who depends on analysis and isn't especially intuitive? Never fear, Orloff says. There are simple techniques you can use to develop your intuition and start listening to your nonlinear self. And they work for everyone. "People can develop their intuition even if they think they don't have it," she says. After all, intuition is in large part messages from the right side of the brain. And all of us have one of those. Well-developed intuition can seem like a superpower, she adds. "People get these amazing flashes."
Ready to give it a try? Here are four simple steps that are sure to increase your intuitive powers:
1. Listen to your gut. Literally.
Believe it or not, your digestive system can help improve your intuition. "There are neurotransmitters in your gut, so if you get a gut feeling, it's not good to ignore that," Orloff says. Enhance that aspect of your intuition by checking in with your gut when you have decisions to make.
For instance, if you're hiring someone, set an intention before the interview to listen with both your mind and your gut. "Notice the physical sensations in that area and ask yourself how this person makes you feel," she says. "Do you feel queasy, tight, or nauseated? Or comfortable, exhilarated, and at ease?"
One client of Orloff's was about to enter into a large business deal, but his gut kept telling him to stay away. "He opted to wait, and it turned out the man he was about to go into business with was an embezzler," she says. "At work, anybody can say the right things and look good. If your intuition tells you otherwise, pay attention."
2. Observe your energy levels.
Pay attention to whether being around someone makes you feel tired and drained or energetic and lively, Orloff suggests. Some people, she says, are energy vampires who will suck the life out of you and drag you down. "If you don't feel well around someone, your intuition is trying to tell you something," she notes.
3. Capture your flashes.
Intuition usually comes to us in a flash of insight--an aha! moment, says Orloff. "They come very quickly," she says. "'Aha--I should call someone. This person could help my project along.'" When those moments hit, don't let them go by, she says. "Write them down, and follow through."
4. Do a three-minute meditation.
"Just getting three quiet minutes a day can get you in touch with your intuition," Orloff says. If even that is too challenging, at least get off by yourself for a few moments. Take a walk, or duck into the bathroom if need be. Orloff says she herself does this when she wants to engage her own intuition. "I need to be separate from other people and tune in," she explains.