When influencing, it really helps if you can be open about your personal agenda. Initially, this may strike you as being naïve, and in some cases, it can be. Yet, overall, if you can do this, you will benefit.
To my way of thinking, the key to exposing your agenda (or sharing if you prefer) is to do an appropriate risk/reward assessment based on its importance to you. The more important, the more thorough your analysis needs to be. In reality, you are already doing this at a subconscious level; however, if you want to avoid unfortunate accidents, use the following ideas about risks and rewards to inform your decision making.
Personal Agenda Sharing Risks
- The opposition may be able to move more effectively against you when they know what you are really aiming to achieve.
- Challenges and objections will be raised before you are ready to handle them.
- You will become publically committed to the agenda you share and changing your mind later could be difficult.
- Your openness may not be reciprocated, putting you at a disadvantage.
- Other stakeholders may view you as naive sharing so openly and may in turn become more guarded about sharing with you.
- Sharing at the wrong time may place you at a strategic disadvantage in the overall scheme of things.
- Colleagues may laugh and make fun of your ambition, or perhaps consider you to be overly ambitious.
These, and more, are the very real considerations related to sharing what you are really aiming to achieve. While I applaud being open, not for one minute am I suggesting you should throw caution to the wind. You have to think it through.
To balance the risks…
Agenda Sharing Benefits
- Enhanced trust in the relationship. Exposing your true intentions takes courage, and this is likely to be recognised and respected.
- Increasing openness from the other side. If you trust them with your confidential information, they are far more likely to trust you with theirs.
- Faster resolutions. Even if you don’t get what you want on this occasion, you can accept the facts and move on to the next challenge more quickly.
- Reduction in fantasising. When people don’t know what you are after, they will likely imagine all sorts of wild things about your real intent.
- Opening yourself up to challenge will offer the opportunity to strengthen your goals and proposals. Pressure testing may be uncomfortable, but it really does pay dividends.
- Less politicking around you because people know exactly what you are aiming to achieve. It is very difficult for your enemies to spread rumours when you operate from a position of transparency.
- Higher productivity because of the focus on negotiating rather than positioning. Put the cards on the table early and get down to what really needs to be discussed.
Again, you can add more to the benefits because these, along with the risks, need to be tailored to you and your situation. There is no point in relying on my list; you have to make your own.
The most important point here is that, when it is important, you go through a process to arrive at a considered decision. And remember, you can work now to reduce risks and increase the risk of benefits — and the more you practice being open, the easier and more beneficial it becomes.