By Susan Dunn
a recent interview
Interviewer: OK, what is intuition? Does anyone really know?
Do you know?
Susan: Well, thatï¿½s how I started years ago when I learned that
intuition (or ï¿½gut feelingï¿½) was an Emotional Intelligence competency
(my area of expertise), and I was going to have to figure out not
only what it was, but how to teach it to others. I had a teleclass,
and I asked if anyone on the call knew a lot about intuition. There
were two people. I said, ï¿½What is intuition?ï¿½ and they both replied,
calmly and with great self-assurance, ï¿½Itï¿½s when youï¿½re absolutely
certain about something.ï¿½
Interviewer: And so you agree with that definition?
Susan: Well sure, but thereï¿½s more to it. After years of studying
it up one side and down the other, so to speak, I have several definitions.
One is that itï¿½s ï¿½implicit memoryï¿½ ï¿½ things we know, but donï¿½t know
how we know them. For instance, you interview lots of people, right?
So you probably had a keen sense that Iï¿½d be a good one to interview
ï¿½ or not, right?
Interviewer: Thatï¿½s true! I read one of your articles and knew
I wanted to interview you. Thatï¿½s intuition?
Susan: Yes. We also call it ï¿½gut instinctï¿½, and at deeper levels,
we call it ï¿½basic instinctsï¿½. For instance, thereï¿½s a company in
the UK ï¿½ I work with the owner ï¿½ who teaches occupational safety
and accident investigation. They work with people in highly dangerous
professions, such as engineers in nuclear plants. They teach them
how to use their intuition, or gut feelings, to keep themselves
Interviewer: How does that work?
Susan: Well, think about when you take your dog to a new place.
Heï¿½s ï¿½all ears,ï¿½ right? Sometimeshe quivers. Heï¿½s smelling. Heï¿½s
using all his senses to figure out whether heï¿½s safe there or not.
And we have to get back to that. I say ï¿½get back to thatï¿½ because
consider, well, an engineer for instance. Years of training in logic
and reason, data and facts. But what will warn him that somethingï¿½s
about to explode? Only his basic instincts. Reason is of no use.
Do you see what I mean?
Interviewer: Yes. Like when you walk in a dark alley and feel
funny, or your hair stands on end. Or I guess when I meet someone
I ï¿½ well, thereï¿½s that word ï¿½ someone I instinctively donï¿½t like.
Susan: Thatï¿½s when youï¿½re using your intuition.
Interviewer: Well, does everyone have it?
Susan: Yes, but weï¿½re not all using it.
Interviewer: What do you recommend using it for?
Susan: Itï¿½s the quickest and surest way to ï¿½knowï¿½ something.
I mean, donï¿½t you know right away whether you trust someone or not?
You might do what I call ï¿½over-rideï¿½ it with your logic and analysis,
but time and time again I hear someone say, ï¿½I KNEW he was a rat
ï¿½ but I ï¿½ï¿½ and thatï¿½s when we outthink ourselves. We go to using
the thinking brain, the neocortex, when we should go with our feelings.
Interviewer: Well how do you know when itï¿½s your intuition instead
of, for instance, wishful thinking?
Susan: If youï¿½re new to this, you may NOT know. We all have intuition,
but in some of us its poorly developed, in the sense that we arenï¿½t
familiar with how it speaks to us.
Interviewer: What do you
mean ï¿½How it speaks to us.ï¿½ Isnï¿½t it the same? What is it?
Susan: Some people get a visual picture. Others receive words.
One person I know will start humming a tune, and when she gets conscious
about what sheï¿½s humming, thereï¿½s a message in there for her.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Susan: Well, she was having a terrible time financially. She
lost all her money in the stock market, then tried to start a new
business and lived on her savings and credit cards, and at some
point realized she was in a deep hole. As she dealt with the reality
of it, she kept humming ï¿½ well silently really, just a message,
ï¿½Iï¿½ve come to the end of the rainbow.ï¿½ It was a very dark time for
her. Then she started to work on the problem, checked on filing
bankruptcy and found out the options werenï¿½t so bad. Then the internal
ï¿½songï¿½ became, ï¿½The long and winding trail.ï¿½ She was on the path
Well, sheï¿½s also a coach, and she gets these songs sometimes
with clients. One time she was listening to a client talk, and realized
afterwards she was humming a tune that 'got' the essence
of the client and what he was doing. It was ï¿½Ramblinï¿½ Manï¿½ and he
was having an affair on his wife. "A rambler and a gambler
and a sweet-talkin' ladies man..." She knew she was being
led down a primrose path herself.
Interviewer: But what about decisions?
Susan: You get an absolute and sure feeling. Now think about
that for a moment. How often, in important decisions, are you 100%
sure and certain? If and when you are, itï¿½s your intuition.
Interviewer: How would you use intuition?
Susan: Itï¿½s particularly good for the harder decisions in life;
when the data runs out. For instance, you can meet someone who meets
all your requirements for a partner. You know how people tell you
to make a list? So you make a list, and this person comes along,
and theyï¿½re the right age, right education, right background ï¿½ but
still thereï¿½s something wrong. You just donï¿½t feel good with them,
or they make you feel bad about yourself. You feel ambivalent, then,
in conflict. Part of you says ï¿½yesï¿½ and part of you says ï¿½no.ï¿½
If you continue logically thinking about it, you may convince
yourself the person is right because they meet the criteria, when
theyï¿½re wrong, because they donï¿½t work for you. Itï¿½s not a good
fit. They treat you badly, or make you feel bad about yourself.
Iï¿½m sure a number of people have married people for the wrong reason
ï¿½ the logical reason. And we all know partners who seem so odd,
so mismatched, but theyï¿½re madly in love and singing a great song
together. Itï¿½s love, and itï¿½s beyond reason. You know how we say,
ï¿½The heart has its own reasonsï¿½?
Interviewer: OK what about business or finances? Should we consult
a psychic then?
Susan: This is about your own internal knowing. And yes, itï¿½s
quite good for business decisions. Think about investing in the
stock market, for instance. You (and stock brokers) can read the
prospectus, and learn the fundamentals, and still lose your shirt.
It isnï¿½t that easy. Unless you have good intuition and can go with
that. Thatï¿½s what helps you pick a winner. The best stock broker
I know also bets on horses and wins.
Interviewer: When would you recommend NOT using intuition?
Susan: When you arenï¿½t experienced in it. Then it can be wishful
thinking, or fear, or both. You can get in trouble.
Interviewer: Do you have some recommendations for how to develop
Susan: Yes. I teach it all the time. Start with something small
and of no consequence. For instance, stand around in the produce
section of the grocery and try and figure out what produce which
person will buy. Or when the phone rings, try and guess who it is.
Itï¿½s a way of inviting your intuition to stand up and be known.
Thatï¿½s how you develop it. Invite it into your life and start listening.
Or seeing. Some people get it visually.
By ï¿½invite it into your life,ï¿½ I mean this. When youï¿½re falling
asleep at night, just silently say, ï¿½Iï¿½d like to have good intuitionï¿½
and leave it at that. Itï¿½s a time when your brain is very receptive,
and of course you leave the details up to your higher self. It will
get you there.
Interviewer: Why are some people leery about
Susan: Because it seems like blackmarket knowledge; too ï¿½easyï¿½
for some people to accept. Also because it canï¿½t be explained. Itï¿½s
knowing without knowing how you know. People who are highly intellectual
and rational, want reasons. They want a logical explanation for
everything, and thatï¿½s not what intuition is about. However, many
people turn around and rationalize it for others. In the business
world, some of the best people go on their ï¿½gut instinct,ï¿½ but then
they turn around and give reasons. Thatï¿½s okay. Thatï¿½s fine. Itï¿½s
just now becoming acceptable in the work world, so a personï¿½s justified.
Interviewer: Can you give an example?
Susan: Yes. Say you have narrowed it down to three candidates
who all look the same on paper, same credentials, all equally qualified.
How do you choose the right one for the job? You have to go on your
gut feeling. Thatï¿½s your guide. Great HR people have keen instincts.
Interviewer: What about in science, or medicine for instance?
Would anyone use it? Or accept it?
Susan: Well, I work with a physician now. Heï¿½s been practicing
medicine, internal medicine, where itï¿½s all hidden, for 40 years
now, and of course heï¿½s uncanny in diagnosing. Heï¿½s also a friend
of mine, and when weï¿½re out, heï¿½ll say,ï¿½That personï¿½s got ulcers,ï¿½
and Iï¿½ll say, ï¿½How do you know that?ï¿½ Heï¿½ll wink and say, ï¿½A little
birdie told me.ï¿½ He sees the most incredible things ï¿½ from years
of experience, you see. Sometimes he gets tests for confirmation,
but itï¿½s his instincts that have to lead him to the right test.
There are millions, you know, and theyï¿½re expensive.
Interviewer: Is there anything youï¿½d like to add about intuition?
How someone could develop it, or learn more about it?
Susan: Belleruth Naparstek has written a great book called ï¿½Your
Sixth Sense: Unlocking the Power of Your Intuition.ï¿½ They can also
work with a certified EQ coach. And then try the exercises I mentioned.
You canï¿½t just read about it. Thatï¿½s why coaching is good. You have
to put it into practice, for months, and itï¿½s good to get feedback.
Interviewer: And everyone has it?
Susan: Yes, I think, or they wouldnï¿½t be here. Think of all the
times ï¿½somethingï¿½ has saved you from an unsafe situation. That was
your intuition. Thank it, use it, develop it, and enjoy the certainty
and safety it brings to your life.
Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, Coaching, Internet courses
and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and
professional success. Coach Certification Program - fast, affordable,
no-residency, training coaches worldwide. She may be contacted