This month, we are focusing on three types of intuition used in business and in life. This discussion is designed to help you find clarity about your natural strengths as a leader and determine what you might need to hire a smart, innovative team
Today, we are focusing on the second type of intuition, which I call social intuition.
What is this? The social type of intuition is based on one’s ability to sniff out the energies and emotions—a.k.a the vibe—among people and in a room. Social intuition is related to animal instinct in navigating safety, protection, and connection. Although we may not be consciously aware of doing it, we all pick up on nonverbal communication cues, congruence, and dissonance all of the time.
For example, imagine you’re in a meeting with some new people. Right away, you don’t trust the guy who is sitting on your left. Everything that he says sounds like a lie. You don’t know what it is, but there’s something about him that you just don’t trust. But you immediately trust the woman who is sitting on your right. She seems open and friendly.
You may or may not be accurate in either case. Yet, like all creatures, we rely on these instincts. And these instincts are animal instincts.
Social intuition feels very neurological and primordial. It’s subtle. Animals use it all the time. When two of us meet, we sense each other, we size each other up, and sniff each other out. We growl on the inside, hope to win the other’s attention and approval, or simply feel neutral about the other.
This happens in business all the time. And the best salespeople, marketers, negotiators, customer service reps, leaders and managers thrive when they’ve put attention on building this skill.
When I waited tables, one of the first things I did was read the needs of the people at each table so that I could provide the type of service that would best suit them. Some tables want little to no interaction with a server. Perhaps they’re on a romantic night out or in the middle of a serious conversation and don’t want to be interrupted.
On the other hand, the people at a table may be bored with one another and see going out as their big entertainment for the week. In that case, they want an engaging, entertaining experience from the server.
Or maybe a table is filled with people who don’t know one another well or who are socially awkward. A good server needs to be able to track the energies and nonverbal cues in the room so that he or she can facilitate the customer experience.
Social intuition has huge implications in the business world. An executive or manager needs to be able to sense when a meeting, sales presentation, or investment pitch is falling flat and what needs to happen next to bring more engagement and vitality to the conversation. The ability to intuit the needs of a customer at every stage of the client experience is an incredible edge over your competition.
So, how does your social intuition show up in your work life? Feel free to share in the comment section below. And, if you’re interested in learning techniques to improve your overall business communication, feel free to get in touch.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on the third type of intuition we use in business and life—informational intuition.