Recently the city of Seattle approved a “head tax” on large businesses, allowing the city to tax per person per working hour. The affected are businesses generating at least $20 million in revenue. This means many of the large companies thriving in the Seattle market are now pausing to reconsider their future. A prime example of this is Amazon’s pause on construction of their new office tower. With the tax being passed, there are many kinds of opinions being shared. There are open letters from CEOs, opinions of the public, and of course opinions of the government bodies in charge of these laws.

Although there has been many voices echoing their disdain for this new tax, there have also been many voices expressing their support of this taxation. In a democratic society, it is these voices that are to be dictating the laws and rules of said society. The question for any lawmaker becomes: which voice do I listen to?

These democratic ways are not limited to government, they also make many appearances in business. It ranges from voting on what kind of coffee the break room carries, to the next branch location. If you are in a decision making position, you are subject to all hearing all of these opinions and being tasked with deciphering what the people want. This can be a daunting task for many reasons, but one key reason is wading through an onslaught of information to determine what has merit.
Here are three things to consider when you have many opinions and lots of information coming your way.

1. Loud Doesn’t Mean Accurate

Many times when people are passionate about a topic, they tend to speak louder. When you hear a loud voice (literally and metaphorically), this does not always mean the words of the this voice are accurate. Take the time to decipher what exactly is being said and analyze its reliability.

If this loud speaking happens during a meeting when you are attempting to make a decision, be sure to speak to the loud speaker in a calm and even toned voice. This will help discourage them from getting louder and louder. If you know that you have a group who likes to get loud, try having everyone write their idea down.

2. Not All Sources Are Relevant

When there is a decision to be made, it is great to get information from many sources and approach things from several angles. However, it is crucial to identify the validity and relevance of these sources. Is the receptionist pitching in ideas on the CEO’s account operations? Let her, it is good to hear things from a different perspective, but evaluate her proximity to the situation. Has he/she worked with this CEO for a while? Does he/she understand the process of operations? Evaluating the understanding of the person, their access to relevant data regarding the decision and what their background is.

3. Listen To Silence

Silence is also an answer. If you have a lot of silence coming back your way when you put out a request for something, that is also an answer of sorts. That is either people telling you that whatever you are inquiring about isn’t important or they feel their opinion does not matter. It is important to decipher the silence over all of the noise coming your way.

With any decision you make that requires people’s input, it is important to understand what you need to be listening for. Being able to identify the important, relevant, and crucial information from everything coming at you is truly a skill that takes some time to acquire. However, no matter how well you listen and try to provide people with what they want there will always be more said after the fact.