Soundproof rooms can be great if you’re practicing the piano or planning a coup. And while they provide you with a distraction-free space to work, if you’re not careful you might just shut out conversations you should be heeding.

In the early 1990s, U.S. agribusiness companies regularly brushed off consumer safety concerns about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I tracked agricultural policy for several clients, so I was in that room a lot. When safety questions came up, they seemed to think that saying GMOs were safe was enough. Who could possible disagree? They were completely surprised when the European Union, prodded by consumers, started asking its own questions.

See, they had been hanging out in a soundproof room. Are you?

Photo by Becky Snyder (Flickr).