A Coaching Power Tool Created by Michele Spencer
(Life Coach, CANADA)
At any given point during a day a person will be required to make a decision or to solve a problem. How a person decides to go about this will depend on how they process information and then accordingly respond to it. Often people are described as someone who approaches things using their “head” or their “heart”. This paper will define it more in the terms of approaching decision-making and problem-solving using logic or intuition. In reference to a power tool neither one is more important than the other but could be viewed as a continuum between one viewpoint and another. Both points of this continuum have their strengths and their weaknesses depending on the decision or problem-solving situation that arises.
Defining logic and intuition
A logical approach to a situation generally requires the person to gather objective, detailed information which they then analyze and compare it to other options. Once this is done they then determine what the best choice is based upon a very conscious and deliberate way of thinking. This allows them to make their decision upon what could be considered a rational, fact-based and objective measurement. This can be considered a way of making problem-solving or decision-making a very black-and-white process. This process is used currently in many aspects of our society from healthcare to business. It is the way policy and frameworks are created in order to have a defining set of rules in place in order to best serve the needs of the majority.
Intuition on the other hand has been defined as a way to problem-solve or decision-make based upon “knowing” something that doesn’t necessarily have any proof or evidence. Intuition falls into a gray area whereby a person acts based more upon a feeling in their body or mind without fully understanding why. As opposed to logic it is not always rational, fact-based, or objective but more of a sense of things. Despite this lack of logic, although it is not generally used to create policy and frameworks, it can often be used to make decisions and solve problems within the framework created by logic. An example would be where a nurse has to make a split second decision and reacts based upon her intuition in order to help the patient in an emergency situation.
Applications of logic and intuition
The application of logic or intuition, when looked at from the definition supplied, are not really important in some situations where the problem or the decision to be made is very simple and the outcome not necessarily crucial. So if a person comes from one or the other viewpoint they will find no conflict with it in their day-to-day life. Where it becomes relevant is when approaching a situation whereby utilizing one or the other in a polarized way may prevent a person from being able to make a decision or adequately solve the problem in the best way possible.
The strength to logic is that it is a very black-and-white process whereby we can gather knowledge and information, analyze and consider it from a very objective viewpoint and act upon it secure in the knowledge that it was based upon a sound process that removes much of the subjectivity and emotionalism as factors. It can provide an understanding that at times there really is the right or wrong decision or solution to a problem and that this process was based upon that concept.
The weakness to logic is that it requires the person to have access to all of the information that is relevant to the decision they need to make or with the problem they need to solve. Sometimes this is possible but at other times the situation is outside of the realm of knowledge. Logic also requires to be considered in an idealized condition. This means that based upon all the information that can be gathered this information is constant and stable thereby the means of measuring it can be reliable and unchanging. Without this than the logic begins to fall apart as unforeseen and unknowable conditions outside of the decision or problem can alter the condition that the logic was based upon.
The strength of intuition is that it does not require a long deliberation process. A person can thereby make a decision or solve a problem immediately based upon a sense of “knowing”. Intuition can be viewed as humans earliest radar system in that they were often confronted with life-and-death decisions and only had their intuition to rely upon. This ability involved an increase in a person’s chance of survival in a very unknown and constantly changing environment. For people that are deeply intuitive and make decisions and solve problems based upon it, they feel more comfortable because it is viewed as a process of using one’s heart, not their head therefore it resonates with them in a deeper way.
The weakness to intuition is that it is subjective and come from more of an ego-based process. As our ego is designed to protect us the problem with it being used in problem-solving and decision-making is that it may come from a place of fear or anxiety which will prevent a person from making a decision or problem solving to the best of their ability. There is also a greater chance of making decisions based on impulse without taking into consideration relevant facts that are needed in order to understand the bigger picture of the problem or the decision to be made.
Sarah is currently working as a community support worker. She enjoys her job and likes the clients that she works with. The job fulfills her in a meaningful way and she provides quality of life for the people that she cares for. The only difficulty with the job is the fact that it requires a lot of driving around the city to each client’s home and the pay is mediocre.
One day while Sarah is flipping through the newspaper she comes to the help-wanted ads and sees a job posted that she feels she would be qualified for. The job is still providing support for people only now it is done over the phone for the most part. The pay is approximately the same as her current position but there are more hours involved and so she would make more money as well as not have to drive around the city and use her car as much.
Logically Sarah feels that she should just apply for the job as it will provide her more financially as well as costing her less because of not having to travel. For some reason though Sarah is struggling with this logic and finds herself creating obstacles to prevent her from applying for the job such as not updating her resume or creating a cover letter for the job. The job itself has a fast approaching deadline to it which is applying pressure on Sarah to make a decision and overcome her obstacles.
With the help of her coach Sarah explores her hesitation from more intuitive perspective, as she has already approached the decision logically. How this is done is that Sarah feels into her sense of being stuck when trying to update her resume or create a cover letter. What Sarah discovers is that the facet of the job that she currently is doing that she enjoys so much is being able to meet with the clients face-to-face. She is also a very hands on person and so finds that working with her clients in their various environments provides her with a very concrete sense of meaning. Despite the gains logically for applying for the other job Sarah comes to the realization that ultimately it will not make her as happy as her current one. This frees Sarah up to begin working with the coach on how to improve her financial situation within the job that she has.
A similar scenario could be somebody who is within a company and is desiring to switch positions. In working with the coach he finds that a few positions have come open but he doesn’t feel like they are the right fit for him. Through exploration he decides to apply a more logical approach and when another position becomes available he looks more into it and interviews a person currently working in that position. He discovers that the job is not exactly as he thought it was and that it may not be a perfect fit, but it is more along the lines of what he would like to do than his current position. In the process of updating his resume and creating a cover letter for this position he realizes that he has several qualifications thereby more options for other jobs in the future. It was only by becoming unstuck from his initial response and moving forward in a logical way that he was able to see the potential.
As coaches it is important for us to be able to dance between these two viewpoints. On the one hand we use active listening and gather all the facts from the perspective of the client. On the other hand we also learn to hear what is not being said and use our intuition to ask a powerful question that can help our clients shift their perspective, in order to move forward.
- When coaching which perspective, logic or intuition, do you lean towards more?
- How comfortable are you as a coach and shifting your or the client's perspective from logic to intuition or vice versa?
- What can you put in place to learn more about your logical or intuitive side?