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Sure bet? Be wary

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Overconfidence arises because people are often blind to their own blindness.

A good sense of intuition is learned from prolonged experience with clear feedback on mistakes. For example, you may be an expert in guessing your spouse’s mood from one word on the telephone.

To find out if you can trust a particular intuitive judgment, ask two questions:

1. Is the environment in which the judgment is made regular enough to enable predictions from the available evidence? The answer is yes for diagnosticians, no for stock pickers.

2. Have the professionals had an opportunity to learn cues and regularities? The answer depends on the professionals’ experience and on the quality and speed with which they see mistakes. For example, anesthesiologists have a better chance of developing intuitions than radiologists do.

Don’t take assertive and confident people at their word unless you have an independent reason to believe they know what they’re talking about. And understand that this is hard advice to follow.

— Adapted from “The Surety of Fools,” Daniel Kahneman, The New York Times Magazine.

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