I once asked a colleague/friend to meet with me to give me feedback on a new direction for my business. As we delved into the subject she shared some thoughts that almost instantly put me in defense mode. I tried to hide it but I’m fairly certain my body language and word choice betrayed me. (We’re never as good at snowing people as we think we are.) And in fact, later in the conversation I fessed up.
Evidently I didn’t truly want feedback, I wanted her to agree with me. I had an agenda going into the meeting and wasn’t honest with myself or with my friend.
Unfortunately I hadn’t thought it through carefully enough to realize that my agenda was just to get approval. It never occurred to me that I would feel so defensive when opinions that differed from my own were shared.
In another instance, a person I was talking to had the agenda – and it was to get me to join an organization. I explained my need to remain focused on current commitments and as valuable a resource as the organization might be to other professionals, it wasn’t a good fit for me. The response I got had not one thing to do with the information I had just shared. I was even urged to come to a meeting where the speaker’s topic was not relevant to my business on any level. Her agenda was set, get me to join whether I needed that resource or not.
We’re not going to get effective results if we go into a conversation with our mind set on the outcome. Particularly if our agenda isn’t shared from the start.
Kittens hiding are cute. Hiding an agenda is not. Be upfront with ourselves and the person to whom we’re speaking. And when our agendas don’t align, be willing to let go and move on.