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When It's OK to Trust Common Sense

October 4, 2013, 2:59 PM

Experts should trust all of their instincts and their common sense in their areas of expertise. The problem comes when non-experts have "common sense opinion" that really is just coming out of nowhere.  And we do that all the time. 

There are areas where we’re expert but then we do the exact same thing in areas where we’re not really expert.  So if you think for instance I see this person and he’s acting shifty to me, my common sense is he is doing something wrong. You shouldn’t disregard that common sense because you’re an expert at looking at people and in reading body language.  You’ve done that your entire life.

So something as simple as that you actually are an expert and you should listen to yourself.  Even if you’re not really sure why you think something you might be picking up on cues.  The trick is ask yourself why do I think this person is acting suspicious.  Am I actually reading body language or am I using non-expertise?  Am I putting someone else in this situation and this person just reminds me of someone I don’t like so now I think they’re shifty. 

So it’s not about not trusting yourself per se. It’s about examining the reasons for your assumptions and always saying, “Okay am I actually making this judgment based on some sort of expertise or am I like one of those people who makes a decision about whether or not I'm going to hire someone in the first 30 seconds of an interview just because I liked them or didn’t like them?”  In which case there’s no expertise there.  You don’t know anything about the person.  So I think it depends on judgment and it depends on what you’re using to get there. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


When It's OK to Trust Commo...

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