the definition of intuition. For the purposes of coaching, there’s at least one definition of intuition that can be very helpful: “an insight that arrives in the moment without a clear chain of reasoning to support it.”
Our brains are amazing. We make decisions in the moment on a regular basis “without even thinking about it.” Of course, we are thinking about those decisions, but it happens much faster than when we are trying to figure out something new or do something new for the first time. We often call this distinction acting with or without conscious thought. When we act “without conscious thought” it just means we aren’t aware of our thought process as it unfolds, but we can explain our reasoning afterwards if we need to. For instance, if a car comes out of nowhere and we swerve to avoid it, we can explain “I had a feeling that there was a car about to hit me coming from the left, so I moved to the right.”
When coaching, we can think of intuition in a similar way. We get an insight on what is happening in the moment which is likely based on our past experiences and our skills as a coach. However, we aren’t quite sure how to explain the reasoning behind the insight. As a result, we may doubt the value of that insight and resist sharing it.
If your intuition provides you with an insight that would have helped the coachee move forward, but you didn’t share it, that’s a shame. On the other hand, if you present an insight as an observation, you run the risk of leading the coachee astray.
When you are coaching, and your intuition provides you with an insight, consider sharing it like this:
“While we’ve been talking, I think I may have had an insight, but I’m not sure. May I share it with you to see if it fits in with what we are discussing?”
As long as you make your offer quickly and make it clear that it is up to them to decide whether your thought was truly a relevant insight or not, it is hard to go wrong. If it was useful, then they will incorporate it and move forward. If it was not useful, very little time was expended and you can move on. The more you lean on your intuition, the more your skill in presenting potential insights will grow.