Cultivating an intuitive mindset in the workplace is a new concept to many, yet using intuition is as old as mankind itself. LoveToKnow spoke with Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D., a psychiatrist at UCLA and an Intuitive Medicine Practitioner about how to use intuition in the workplace. While it may sound far fetched, Dr. Orloff doesn't think so - and this gifted physician uses intuition daily to help her patients. Dr. Orloff's new bestseller is Second Sight: An Intuitive Psychiatrist Tells Her Story and Shows You How to Tap Your Own Inner Wisdom (Three Rivers Press Edition, 2010.) She is also author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom. In Second Sight, she describes how to tap your intuitive intelligence in your work, relationships, health, and everyday life. Dr. Orloff synthesizes traditional medicine with cutting-edge knowledge of intuition. Her insights create a new convergence of healing paths for our stressed-out world. Dr. Orloff took time out of her busy day to answer questions related to using intuition in the workplace. Everyone can cultivate their inner wisdom to guide business decisions.
Intuitive Mindset in the Workplace
First we asked Dr. Orloff to define the intuitive mindset.
LoveToKnow (LTK): What is an intuitive mindset?
Judith Orloff (JO): When we talk about an intuitive mindset, it's all about getting out of a strictly logical, analytical, left-brain head, and instead learning to recognize, tap into, and rely on other aspects of intelligence. Namely: intuitive intelligence. An intuitive mindset allows you to "listen" to hunches, pay attention to odd feelings that seem to come out of nowhere, stop before walking into a dangerous or foul-smelling deal, or take smart risks based on a kind of trust, because something just feels "right" as your mind, body, and energy are all flowing harmoniously and you're "in the zone."
In a day-to-day workplace setting, you would be using your whole body and senses to pick up cues. For example, your manager leans into your cubicle, smiling, and tells you that she liked your presentation. But the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes says something different. What's behind that mixed message? That's an example of how we can use our eyes and ears to pick up subtle messages, and then try to decode them.
Sharpening Intuition for Business
LTK: How can people sharpen their business intuition?
JO: A number of new studies have shown that intuitive intelligence can help us make better decisions. Scientists are just beginning to understand, for example, that the body receives messages more quickly than a visual image is able to register in the brain. That's why, for instance, soldiers in Afghanistan report being able to intuitively stop seconds before an IED goes off. Scientists acknowledge there is a type of intelligence or awareness that happens outside of the brain. In the gut, for example. This intelligence is there to help us make better decisions. Whether you're a salesperson, a manager, or a computer engineer, learning to "read" people and situations at work using a broader spectrum of your intelligence--sharpening your intuition--will only make you better and smarter at what you do.
LTK: Do dreams have meaning, and can they be used for intuitive guidance too?
JO: The key to using dreams to give you hidden, valuable information is to learn some basic techniques for remembering and consulting them. Initiate an ongoing dialogue with them. It's like consulting the wisest career coach you can imagine, one who knows you inside out. You can ask your dreams anything. No question is trivial, if it is meaningful to you. Expect answers. Some will be direct. Others may require interpretation. Your dreams can reveal many truths about your career. They can provide extraordinary intuitive insights. But first you must retrieve them.Here are four strategies to help you remember your dreams:
1. Keep a journal and pen by your bed.
2. Write a question on a piece of paper before you go to sleep. Formalize your request. Place it on a table beside your bed or under your pillow. (For example, "Tell me whether I should transfer to another department," or "Tell me how I can get that promotion.")
3. In the morning do not wake up too fast. Stay under the covers for at least a few minutes remembering your dream. Luxuriate in a peaceful feeling between sleep and waking, what scientists call the hypnagogic state. Those initial moments provide a doorway.
4. Open your eyes. Write down your dream immediately; otherwise it will evaporate. You may recall a face, object, color, or scenario, or feel an emotion. It doesn't matter if it makes perfect sense-or if you retrieve a single image or many.
Record everything you remember. When you're finished, refocus on the question you asked the previous night. See how your dream applies. One, two, or more impressions about the who/what/where of your solution may have surfaced. Get in the habit of recording your dreams regularly. I've never met anyone who can't be taught how to remember. Keep at it. Remember to practice. Soon it will become second nature to you!
In addition to the practical aspects of remembering dreams, there's an intuitive level to understanding dreams. Reliable intuitive information stands out in very specific ways.
Watch for these clues:
- Statements that simply convey information
- Neutral segments that evoke or convey no emotion
- A detached feeling, like you're a witness watching a scene
- A voice or person counseling you, as if you're taking dictation from an outside source
- Conversations with people you never met before who give instructions
I've found that my most dead-on intuitions either come across as compassionate or have no emotion at all. Develop a careful eye as you practice separating the content of your dreams from your reactions to it. Soon you'll be able to tell the difference between unreliable guidance and truly reliable guidance.
LTK: What does "consulting intuition" mean?
JO: When we talk about "consulting our intuition," it's all about making a simple behavioral change at work. After a meeting, for example, when you go back to your desk, instead of checking your email and voicemail messages, take a moment to sit still, quietly, and "replay" the events that just happens. How does your body feel? Relaxed? Fatigued? Tense? How would you characterize your overall feelings/emotions from the meeting? Confused? Energized? Frustrated? Learning how to "check in" with your body and emotions will give you a whole new set of ideas and information with which to work.
LTK: Why don't people use their intuition more?
JO: I think people don't use their intuition because they don't understand what it is, or recognize it as a valid aspect of intelligence. Now that scientists have acknowledged the existence of intuition, it may help people have more respect for it. But people really do know it exists. How many times have you bumped into someone you were just thinking about? That's synchronicity, and it's a part of the intuitive intelligence spectrum. People talk about hunches and gut feelings. They know these things exist, but don't put enough stock in them. I think, as neuroscience advances and people are increasingly intrigued with and educated on the latest brain research, that intuition, empathy, and our "second sense" will play a larger role in all kinds of professions.
LTK: How can you develop your intuition?
JO: Anyone in the working world can develop intuition. I mentioned one technique, above--taking the time to check in or tune in. Consulting your dreams is another. Also, pay attention to those times when you seem to be in the "flow"--when you're writing and the perfect word pops into your head, or you need some advice and you happen to hear it on the evening news from a business commentator. Those are moments when your intuitive intelligence is humming and things feel "right." The more you develop your intuition, the more frequently you'll have such experiences.
Final Words of Advice
LTK: What else would you like to share about intuition in business?
JO: One final piece of advice: If you happen to be someone who has a very strong connection to your intuition, you may find that you are exhausted from constantly "reading" other people's emotions, or that you often have a need to be alone and in a quiet space. That's okay. Take care of your intuitive health as you would any other aspect of your mental health. You have a great gift that will help you advance professionally. For everyone else, know that developing your intuitive intelligence can help you be a better leader, mentor, communicator, negotiator, and creative person. It will also help you forge positive alliances at work, make more money, and be more fulfilled in your job.
For more information , please visit Dr. Orloff's website. A copy of Second Sight was received from the author's press agent for review prior to the Intuitive Mindset in the Workplace interview.