I was flying home from a new product innovation workshop a week ago and sat next to a delightful woman. I was tired from a long day but somehow she sensed I tend to be more of an extrovert (even though I did not say a word) and could use a chat to re-energize.
Well, it turns out she was very funny, smart, insightful and is an author and professional psychic. Some of you may believe in psychic abilities and some not but it did get me thinking about something most people will agree exists, intuition and more specifically, a women’s intuition.
In one of the LeoShe studies I helped conduct a few years ago, we referred to a woman’s special view of the world as “women’s wisdom”—that unique ability women have to read a room, faces or a situation that gives them a special insight into people, places or contexts that men often miss.
So is women’s intuition a myth or reality?
I turned to my favorite expert on women’s natural talents, anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher for some answers. Dr. Fisher sites numerous studies that show how women are on average better than men at deciphering emotions when looking at a face. This can be seen with girls as early as preschoolers to high schoolers and adults. Studies in at least 10 other countries, including the villages of New Guinea also back up this assertion.
Women are also more sensitive to reading body language. A critical skill if you consider that 80-90% of all communication is nonverbal. In fact, in conversation, words only make up about 10% of the communication. Tone of voice, gestures, postures and facial expression are much more important. We communicate this way naturally and unconsciously— just take a minute to stop and notice all the people gesturing and nodding on their cell phones to people who are NOT in front of them.
Tests on thousands of men and women in 19 countries show that women excel at reading a person’s emotions from his or her tone of voice, posture, gestures and nonverbal cues.
Noticing the Details
Women are hard-wired to pick up the details and remember them. On average women can recall 16 items in a room from a two-minute exposure where men’s average is four or five. Some experts relate this detail-orientation to a woman’s primitive survival skills needed to successfully raise (non-verbal) babies over the millennia and how to recall where the safe (non-poisonous) berries were located; others connect this detail orientation to the hormone estrogen. Whatever the reason, when it comes to connecting with women, details matter.
Implications for Brands
First, women not only read faces well, they love seeing them. It’s why women respond when people attach photos to texts and post pictures of people on Facebook. It surprises me how few faces are shown in brand’s social media—faces of the people behind the brand or faces of happy customers.
Next, women are reading body language and how congruent verbal and non-verbal language is. Southwest Airlines flight attendants with their casual uniforms, making announcements where everyone can see them, and their spontaneous sense of humor are all great examples of a successful brand that gets this. So are the geniuses at Apple Stores around the country. There could be two hundred people in the store but when one is with you their words and body language equally say, “you are the most important person in here.”
Finally, many brands, especially retailers are starting to get the connection women make between a clean restroom and great product quality (whether you’re selling gas or apparel). But not many brands are validating and celebrating women’s attention to detail as her “secret weapon”.
I recently saw this ad for Jared Jewelers and thought it tapped into the insight of women’s intuition well.
As for my new friend the psychic? I’d like to re-connect with her soon. But my sense is she knows that. I’ll check my inbox; I bet there’s an email in there from her now.