When should you trust your gut feeling? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, CEO @ SafeGraph, on Quora:

You should trust your gut NOT to do something, but you should use data to do something affirmatively.

Back in the savannah, our gut evolved to keep us from being eaten by lions. The gut feeling is to keep us alive and stop us from making a big mistake, especially when a lot of data suggests that it might be a good thing. Trust your gut if it tells you not to hire someone, not to marry someone, not to do a deal, not to walk down a dark alleyway, not to do business with someone, etc.

Your gut is much less good at determining to do something. It might not be a good idea just to go with your gut to hire someone, to marry someone, to do a deal, to walk down a dark alleyway, or to do business with someone. In those cases, you might want to include data and do a thorough analysis especially if it is something that is hard to undo or going against a core rule that you follow.

For instance, let's say you have an internal guideline that you will not invest in companies that have beautiful corporate headquarters, but your gut says that it is a sound investment. It might be a great investment, but since you'd be going against one of your pattern-match rules, I would suggest you gather a lot more data than trusting your gut.

But in the case where you have a rule that you regularly invest in all companies that have 50% market share and are growing at over 50% per year but in this case, your gut tells you there is just something not right about the CEO, then TRUST YOUR GUT. You will have a hard time determining what your spidey sense is trying to tell you with analysis. Best to just walk away.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Published on: Jan 3, 2017