Guided By Your Gut Or Your Head? It Matters in the Work World

I'm one of those people who basically only operates on her gut.  It's been right a lot of times.  Meeting my husband and knowing he was the one (at least, at that time!).  Making new friends.  Knowing whether a potential boss is really right for me.  

Now a new study is saying that, when it comes to empathy, don't trust your gut.

According to, empathy is more the result of logic than emotion. 

"Cultivating successful personal and professional relationships requires the ability to accurately infer the feelings of others -- that is, to be empathetically accurate.  Some are better at t his than others, a difference that may be explained by a mode of thought," says Jennifer Lerner, PhD, of Harvard University, a co-author of the study. "Until now, however, little was known about which mode of thought -- intuitive vs. systematic, offers better accuracy in perceiving another's feelings."

You'd think that would make men better at this than women, since, stereotypically, they tend to be more logical in their thinking. But individuals process and make decisions in different ways, Lerner says.  Some, like me, choose to follow their instincts and go with what feels right to them (the intuitive way of thinking), while others plan carefully and analyze the information (my husband).

Bill Clinton is an intuitive thinker, Hillary, maybe a bit more logical.  (Some think she's cold because she sometimes can come across as too smart.) And Trump, God help us, is probably the most guided-by-gut there is (when it's all about him, of course, that is).

So, is there a right way?  Of course not.  You have to choose whichever way works for you, and if one way doesn't result in getting you what you want, maybe the other's a better choice.  

Lerner cautions, however, that one type of thinking may prevail over another in a job interview.  Don't count on your gut there, she says.  "You may need a more nuanced approach," she concludes.




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