10 Minutes to Sharpen Your Instincts

Follow and sharpen your instinctsThe first key to know whether you will like and trust your new colleague in the office (or anyone for that matter) is to follow your instinct.

You see, people often say the first impression counts the most, and I think they are right. We often apply this rule in our private lives when we meet friends of a friend in a bar or restaurant. We trust our instincts. Either we like the person or we don’t and we know the answer to this question usually within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.

How often to you count on your first impression when you meet new people? Are you someone who likes to complete the picture of a person after several exchanges or do you immediately make up your mind?

What if I showed you one simple way of how to sharpen your instincts even further?

Our Basic instincts

Human Instincts have protected our ancestors from many difficult situations in the past, the so called human survival instincts. One of the most basic human survival instinct is the “fight or flight” – which is still very much applicable today (Winston, R., 2003. Human Instinct. London:Transworld). Imagine you walk alone across the car park from the office to your car, you hear footsteps not to far away from you, but you cannot see anyone. A normal impulse would be to move quicker to the car and perhaps even lock the doors once you are in.

In this example one takes a very conscious decision to walk faster, there are also various unconscious decisions where our instinct play a role. And in various circumstances our instincts can help or hinder us in dealing with every day situations.

We inherited these instincts from our ancestors, and we are equipped with this “tool”, that to my belief, we should try and use more consciously in our every day life situations. At least from my personal experience it has proven me right many times, when I listened to it.

“Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.” ~ Michael Burke

Instincts at Work

In the past, I have often relied upon my first “reaction” when I saw the face of a new colleague, project partner, client or provider. This first impression influences often our decision making process on whether we would like to work with this person or not. Certainly, other factors (should) come into play as well, like their experience on the topic, their tools and processes, their network, the quality delivered, their fees , etc. In these kind of decision making processes however, our emotional reaction also plays a role.

There are many rules and processes existing in various companies which try to rule out the personal opinion of an employee as much as possible to take a decision based on as many objective factors as possible, and I believe we need these kind of guidelines, otherwise we all take decisions as we personally please without thinking about other aspects in depth.

I also do believe, however, that a healthy combination between the objective and subjective factors (such as to listen to our instincts) lets us take a better decision. Therefore, we should use both, where we do have a choice and/or the decision power.

Do you agree?


How to Sharpen Your Instincts: A Face Perception Test

To test my own impulse on new faces in my environment, I have recently tried out a test by Professor David Perrett and Dr Tony Little of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, which has the objective to analyze our personal preferences for faces with two personality traits: introversion and extroversion.

There are 20 questions in total and it seriously only takes 10 minutes to complete. At first, I had to rate myself first in terms of some typical characteristics. So, for example, I crossed a higher mark on the scale towards talkative versus being a quiet and reserved person. Then, I was asked to choose between two different faces per question – and I made an effort of not thinking too much about it, just chose my preferred face.

Although this test is actually made to show you whether your preferred ideal long-term partner is introverted or extroverted, in my opinion, it can be used to test your reaction towards any kind of facial expression, whether in your private or professional environment. This test is only takes about 10 minutes to complete and it is freely available on the BBC website (see link below).

Why should you take this test, you ask? This test is a great way to test your instincts consciously. The result page provides a good indication of what preference you have and how your score rates in comparison to others. Secondly, going through the test makes you “activate” your instincts, as you actively use them while looking at the different faces. And even though you might not know why, you immediate know whom of the two faces you like more. Try it!

Before you do, one important downside to note: being such a short test, which only considers two characteristics, one cannot expect an in depth report on our perceptions.

So, in combination with your personal experience of facing different and new situations, your instincts are a perfect “tool” to decide whether you will like and trust someone new.

Now, to you, if you would like to try the 10 minute test, please click on the image below.

Trust your instinct - face perception test

Screenshot of the Face Perception Test on the BBC Homepage

Photo courtesy of Lel4nd

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