Do you really know what the target of your influence is hoping to achieve? Most of the time, the professional agenda is known, at least in theory. However, the agenda that has the most impact on the individual you are influencing is usually their hidden or personal agenda.
Personal agendas are carefully guarded. There may be tell-tale signs of what is really driving someone, but usually it is only their closest friends and colleagues who know what is going on. Not knowing this, can put you at a distinct disadvantage. When you do know, you can begin to make more direct connections with that agenda and get them on your side much more quickly.
Trouble is, when it comes to influence, most people I meet seem to be quite satisfied to work in the dark, assuming (or rather guessing) what the hidden motives of their stakeholders are. This is more like shooting in the dark. While it may be difficult to uncover these, it is possible.
How to Work with Personal Agendas
- For one of your goals, note down the people you need to influence.
- For each, try to write down what you think their agenda is.
- Meet with each and ask questions sensitively to test your understanding.
- Alternatively, begin to gather insights from others around them.
- Better still, do both of the above.
- Ask them what needs to change about your goal to gain their agreement.
- If your goal works against their agenda, find creative ways to align your goal to their agenda.
- Work with them to solve problems and negotiate to bring the agendas closer together.
Moreover, remember — assuming you know the other person’s agenda is dangerous. If you are successful despite conflicting with someone else’s agenda, you could be storing up trouble for the future.