Are You Making Rational Decisions?

July 29th, 2010

by Colleen Flood*

Flickr Image: lapolab

Flickr Image: lapolab

When I am making decisions or working with decision makers I am often reminded of the PRSA Counselors Academy conference back in May.  During the breakout session, “The Emotional Context of Rational Thought,” led by Carol Schiro Greenwald, I learned about how the brain works and how emotions influence the way we hear and process information.  This in turn influences our decisions, as well as those our clients make.

Greenwald was informative, filling us in on facts about the brain: 

  1. it weighs 3lbs.
  2. is 7-10 million years old
  3. it does not fully develop until we are approx. 20 years old. 

These facts were interesting, but what Greenwald went on to say got me thinking.  She explained that we can only do one thing at a time!  Despite our best efforts, we cannot multi-task – I guess this why she would not let us tweet during her session. 

She explained that the mind is linear and has not evolved…yet.  Perhaps future generations will evolve in to doing more than one thing at a time since they will be raised in a multi-tasking society with all the new technology.  (So for now, stop trying to do other things and stick to one thing at a time – like concentrating on reading this blog.) 

Greenwald said we can only retain 7-10 pieces of information at a time and we forget 95 percent of what we know.  She also explained 80 percent of brain thoughts are unconscious!  Therefore, for good decision making it is important to “underload in the society of information overload.”  How can we do this? 

  • Begin with a big idea and add the details later.
  • Tell a story. We learn through visuals, pictures – so make it real.
  • Don’t overload the consumer.  Over thinking shuts out emotional context; it cuts out all the knowledge.  Whatever you think is the proper length, shorten it Greenwald says. 
  • Provide all the need to know information rather than the nice to know. Again shorter is better.
  • We see what our brain tells us to see. Keep it lively.
  • Memory is a creative product of our encounters. Make sure you make an impression.

What emotional connections do you see influencing seemingly rational choices or decisions with your clients?  In the workplace? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. 


*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce

2 Responses to “Are You Making Rational Decisions?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Crystal DeGoede, BurrellesLuce. BurrellesLuce said: Are you making rational decisions? @cgflood @BurrellesLuce #PRSA […]

  2. […] before you look at the next email or tweet. This mirrors a similar idea expressed in a recent BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas post by my colleague Colleen Flood, who attended the PRSA Counselors Academy back in May and […]

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