We all have skills and tools that we use to further our careers. Studying to get additional degrees or working extra hours to get a promotion are just two of the many ways that are proven to help create career advancement and success. However, there is another tool that is overlooked, undervalued and sometimes flat-out rejected in a work setting: intuition.
Men and women (especially women) are taught to ignore the irrational and unpredictable world of feelings in order to compete in the workplace. We are told that business and emotions don't mix, and in some cases that is very true. There is a time and a place for emoting, and very rarely is that moment in a presentation, interview or company meeting. However, the problem is that most people, while striving to maintain professionalism, shut all of their emotional antennas down – including the deeply powerful tool of intuition. And when this happens, they miss out on the ability to use their gift of intuition to elevate their careers and propel them forward.
Photo Courtesy of The Balance
You see, emotions are inextricably attached to intuition. Our empathic abilities are directly related to our openness to emotional energy. I am not suggesting that we all drop our defenses and cry or rage spontaneously in the workplace; instead, I am suggesting that we intentionally begin to have more of an internal awareness of our emotions throughout the day or in special circumstances. Would you even consider turning off your spellcheck feature before you turn in that important proposal or brief? Then why would you not check in with your gut during a job interview or during an important pitch to a client?
If you are more mindful about listening to your intuition in key moments, you can jump ahead or avoid a pitfall more easily than your colleagues. Giving your intuition a "seat at the table" in your decision making doesn't just happen. It requires intention, mindfulness and a willingness to be still enough to get in touch with your emotions in a work setting. Add checking in with your intuition to your to-do list around any work activity, and you are guaranteed to create better results in your career.
Here are my top five workplace moments where I suggest tapping into your intuition:
1. Job interviews
Don’t just try to impress; notice how you feel the minute you walk through the door. Is it warm and inviting, or cold and quiet? Sometimes we are so preoccupied with winning the "dream job" that we aren't noticing our gut sending signals. How you physically and emotionally felt in an interview or a potential workspace should weigh just as heavily in your decision-making process as what is in the offer letter.
2. Choosing your workplace confidants
We all need to pick our mentors, work friends and coaches to thrive in any organization. Just because someone is in a position of authority above you or says they are going to help you doesn't mean you should trust them with your career path. Check in with yourself. How does each of your colleagues make you feel? Sometimes it's the demure, 25-year-old veteran administrative assistant who really knows who to trust and who really has the respect of the C-suite.
3. Pitching that important client
You have finally landed a meeting with that huge potential client, and you’re willing to go to any length to show her that you are the right person for the business. Preparation is important. Research is important. But when you are delivering that perfect pitch, are you simultaneously listening to your intuition? How do you feel in the meeting? Is she responding warmly or staring through you? As you present, are you feeling closer to her relationally or further away? Don't drone on in the wrong direction. Use your emotional radar to quickly course correct a disastrous presentation or to keep on track and knock it out of the park!
Photo Courtesy of Hello Beautiful
4. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
As you grow into positions of authority, the decision-making gets tougher and tougher. When you are the boss, by the time a problem hits your desk there are likely few choices left in terms of how to handle the issue. If you've weighed the pros and cons for each answer and there is no clear winner, go to your intuition. Close your eyes and imagine you have made one of the choices. Now notice how you feel in that scenario. You will always feel a little better or calmer with the right choice. The right choice never makes you feel worse.
5. Should I stay or should I go?
You finally called that bothersome recruiter back. He is painting the most glorious picture of an opportunity he wants you to consider. If you actually get to the job interview phase of this process. If you are not even sure that you want to leave your company...stop. Check in with your intuition. Why are you even considering leaving? There is an explanation. Are you not being challenged? Are you not getting along with your boss or a coworker?
If there is not a glaring reason, it could be something that you are in denial about in your current situation. You could be pushing through an underlying situation that needs to be addressed so it doesn't get worse. In other words, unconsciously ignoring your intuition. Notice your actions and look at what your emotional gut is trying to tell you. Your intuition can help you to address a problem so you can be happier at a great job, or finally, come out of denial to realize you are wasting time in your current position.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.