Turn Your Intuition into a Force That Can’t Be Ignored

Today I’m sharing a post I wrote for NEXT for Women, a wonderful resource and community for professional growth. The subject…how to make sure that when you do step up to the table that your voice is heard. This story was inspired by a woman who is working on turning her woman’s intuition into a force that can’t be ignored.





Give Your Intuition the Power of Conviction

Originally posted by NEXT for Women on November 11, 2011. 

In most of my interviews with 40-something women I focus on what they know now that they wish they knew in their 20s. Next for Women asked me to explore an interesting twist on that perspective:  What things are 40-something women working on now that they would encourage young women to work on earlier in their lives/career?

Much of insight women shared with me touched on asserting oneself in the workplace and coming to terms with gender dynamics. This may be a surprise to 20-somethings as many say there is little reason to suspect they aren’t being treated equally with the strides that have been made in gender discrimination. However, the issues older women find challenging are more subtle, dealing less with their right to have a say and more with the nuances of having their say heard.

Fact is, all else equal, men and women communicate differently as one serial entrepreneur has come to realize. She is working on turning her “women’s intuition” into a force that can’t be ignored. As women we are told to trust our gut instincts…they’re usually right. But we tend to apply this only to our personal life. It’s just as important in business. When something or someone doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.  It’s hard not to pass it off. It’s harder still to convince others it’s not trivial.

“You don’t realize there is a lot more gut than analytics in business. Sometimes you have to go behind the numbers. You can’t ignore your gut. Don’t expect to be able to quietly convey it. You have to really put your foot down. Even if no one is listening.

I learned this the hard way after having to choose between two funding deals. I had an all male board and while one deal was better on paper, it was almost too good to be true. I had a sense from what the other potential partner was saying that it wasn’t consistent with the market and it was very likely that it would end up costing us more in the long run. I voiced my concerns and made the case but the response was, “A deal is a deal”. We went with the deal I doubted and sure enough six months later they added a provision and it ended up being more expensive. No one remembered my cautions.

It’s a skill to translate instinct and gut to an audience that’s not inclined to receive information like that. Even in a meritocracy, you have to remember that men and women have a different way of communicating. I’m still working on how to convey myself in a way that is heard by all parties.” – CEO, Co-Founder, Entrepreneur

What power women would have if intuition had a gender-free voice. The first step is to take the advice we all have heard: add certainty to your tone. Women tend to start off their sentences with sayings like “I don’t know if this is right” and end them with a questioning lilt. Take the doubt out of your delivery and add the power of conviction. And as this female board member shares, if you know you are going to make a tough stance, be prepared.

“I think women have to be so much more careful how they communicate in terms of tone and style of conversation, body language, choice of words and preparation of the content. If a woman is to take a position at variance with the rest of the Board, it’s extremely important to prepare the ground: talk to other members in advance, ensure you have full information, speak clearly and unequivocally. This is even more important if this is a first time for someone to stand up against the Board, or if she is younger, less experienced, and newer on the Board.” – Board member, Director , former CEO and COO


Wonderful advice regardless of your audience.

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