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Lately, I’ve become involved with a number of organizations both as a partner and as a founder. I’m helping organize two major local conferences and am in the process of working with a small team to launch a charity. I’m also part of an informal organizing and marketing team for my local neighborhood association. It’s a lot of groups. And being a part of these groups has led me to a very important realization. Making decision with a group is really hard. But it’s still possible. Here’s how.

Do I Really Care?

Sometimes we just want to weight in on things. We just want to give our two cents. But in a larger group when you’ve got 2 or 3 or 5 or 12 people all trying to work together to make decision, giving your two cents is not always helpful. Sure, it’s fine to offer insight when required, but ask yourself if you really care about that particular decision. I know what you’re thinking. “Obviously if I’m a member of an organization, I’m invested and interested so of course I care.” Sure. You say that, but do you? Do you really?

I think more often than not, we just want to have an opinion on something and having an opinion is a very good thing, right? Not always. Sometimes you need to leave it to the person or people that are passionate about a given topic. And you will ALWAYS find someone passionate about a topic, even the most mundane of topics. So rather than weighing in with a position that you don’t truly care about, just stay out of it. If you’re asked for your take, give it. But don’t chime in with, “I think it should be blue” just so that the official minutes show that you were there.

Yes, I DO Really Care

The great thing about not always having an opinion on everything is that when you DO chime in, people pay attention. If you’re a film buff, it’s like when Silent Bob finally gives his two cents in a Kevin Smith movie. This is the guy that always just shrugs. He goes along. He gets things done but he never REALLY gives his opinion. So when he DOES finally give his opinion, everyone listens.

My wife knows that I don’t care about most things. That sounds bad. But what I mean is that I don’t have an opinion that would be hurt by someone else living out their opinion. Think of it like this. If someone wanted to go to Disneyland for their whole life and you kind of wanted to watch a movie on Netflix and the two situations were (for some ridiculously contrived reason) incompatible, you’d let them go to Disneyland, right? Well, I let my wife go to Disneyland, all day every day, one every subject you can imagine. Until…

When I enter a conversation and make my point, my point is considered…seriously. I might not always “win” the vote but my wife KNOWS that I am serious because I made THAT point important. If everything is important, then nothing is important, so play your cards carefully.

Please, Someone Think of The Children…Or User…Or Whoever

MOST organizations serve a purpose. It may be that this is a community organization or a charity or an association representing a field or profession or group of people or this might be the entertainment committee at your office. But whatever the purpose of your group, when making group decisions you need to understand that rarely are the decisions you’re making made to benefit YOU. YOU are a representative of a group of people.

Obviously we all have a lot of opinions but sometimes when you’re working within an organization, you’re not speaking for you. You’re speaking for others who’ve possibly trusted you to speak on their behalf. No matter how you came to be their voice, be their voice. If YOU don’t like purple balloons but the people you represent LOVE purple balloons then how dare you not vote for purple balloons?