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Intuition: what it isn’t

Ah, intuition. The word itself means many things to many people. Here are some of its guises, and some clarification of what intuition and intuitive can mean.


Having an intuition

Sometimes, you say you have “an intuition” about something. What you really mean is that you have an idea.

It may well be a creative idea, but nonetheless it’s a plain, common garden idea.

You’re having an idea, not an intuition.

You might be having an idea that’s come to you intuitively – but that’s a different thing.


Intuitive design

Sometimes we might talk about an “intuitively” designed interface. The latest software is “intuitive”. Or the controls in your car. The menu for your tablet is “intuitive”.

What “intuitive” means here is “easy to figure out”.

IKEA do this really well. You look at the pictures and you quickly figure it out. This picture means “You need a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer”. That one means “assembling this is a two-person job”. Simple, well-designed instruction sheets.

A close relative of intuitive design is familiar design. You might describe an iPad interface as intuitive, but that’s no surprise if you’re an Apple native. You’re already familiar with what to expect. Windows users going into an Apple environment might well feel lost and confused because their usual ways of interacting don’t work. Where’s the right-click?!!


Doing things “intuitively”

Top sportspeople are able to play “intuitively” because they’ve trained for years to have excellent responses to what’s happening. They’ve practised and practised. They know where to hit that shot because they’ve seen the situation hundreds, if not thousands, of times before.

Sportspeople have a feel for the game, for the race. This may mostly be kinesthetic intelligence at work, with a dash of intuition ”proper” as well.


Intuition ”proper”

Intuition ”proper”goes beyond all of these. It’s the sense that gives you information and you don’t know where that information has come from. It may be a felt sense, or imagery, or something you hear. But you can’t track it back to your regular senses.

It has a particular flavour to it, a particular feel. You can’t explain it, but over time you grow to trust it.


How do you experience your intuition?

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this webpage are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this webpage. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this webpage. Sue Mahony PhD disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this webpage.

Sue Mahony PhD is gifted, autistic, and ADHD. She provides 1:1 specialist support for brains similar to her own, neurodiversity training, mentoring & coaching for organisations, and a wealth of articles on this website.

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