Reactions Can't Be Trusted

I've noticed that reactions are where my biases, assumptions, and predispositions are most prevalent. That split-second doesn't allow enough time for logical reasoning to take place, and if emotion is involved, it's ever-more toxic.

Today we were discussing adding a plugin tool to Arcade that I had prior judgements about. My gut reaction was "ewww" and instantly rejected the idea without any thought. I was ready to send a message to the team to speak out against it, before I realized I didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

After considering its usefulness and reading the documentation, then actually implementing the damn thing, I realized how great it actually was. It'll quite literally save me hours of development time and provide a great experience for our users.

Now that I went through that process, I began to wonder where that gut reaction came from. It was biased and entirely inaccurate. I don't even know where that reaction came from! I have zero bad experiences with the tool in the past so my biases were completely unfounded.

It's super hard to ignore. We're always told to "trust our gut" but fail to acknowledge that it may very well be wrong, whether we trust it or not. What separates gut reaction from intuition?

Intuition - the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

By this definition, I understand intuition as a correct gut reaction. Intuition is undoubtedly a strength and provides an edge. It cuts learning time significantly and assumptions become more powerful as you notice more patterns... but what is it called when the gut reaction is wrong?

It's very human of us. Emotions are certainly involved in both gut reactions and intuition, and emotions change frequently. If we feel frustrated, we're quicker to lash out at an idea. If we're confident, we're more likely to take bolder stances.

I'd even argue that the emotionality of someone drives the strength of these reactions. Passionate feelings drive stronger knee-jerk reactions. It works both ways; it can hurt or help.

For instance, I believe an empathetic person is more likely to understand how others will react to a decision, and combined with strong pattern recognition, fuels better predictions and more accurate gut reactions. Emotion forms better intuition.

Regardless of where it comes from, it can be wrong. It will be wrong. It takes patience to recognize when an opinion comes from gut rather than reasoning.

The ability to recognize this and change your thought process to a more logical one is a skill. The idea is not to reject gut reactions, but challenge them with reasoning. Take a second to think, process, and form objectively better opinions.