My late, great mentor, Lee Braxton, who taught me much of what I know about business always said, “In every transaction or business deal, each party involved has an angle or motive.” Mr. Braxton went on to explain that having an angle or a motive is actually positive, and any person you are dealing with who doesn’t have an obvious angle or motive should be very suspect.
In a capitalistic, free enterprise system, profit motive and success angles are valid and important. In much the same way everyone in a business deal has a motive, everyone who offers you information has an agenda. It does not make their agenda bad or in any way antagonistic, but you must always remember that everyone who communicates with you has a reason or agenda for their communication.
My late, great friend and colleague, Paul Harvey, arguably the most respected news professional of his time, told me that the way to control the flow of news is not to introduce your own bias into the story as much as deciding which stories will be told. By virtue of the fact that someone is telling you something, they are instantly communicating their belief that whatever they are telling you is worthy of your time and attention.
There was a time when all that anyone needed to discern from news or information was the simple question, “What is the story?” Then with the advent of numerous news and information sources, some being less than reputable, it became important to ask, “Who is telling the story?” Now with the world filled with a variety of individuals with differing agendas clamoring for our attention, it is important to ask ourselves, “Why are they telling me this story?”
Understanding a person’s bias or agenda is the basis for very positive and constructive communication. It is impossible for anyone to be free of bias. Their experience and beliefs create the perspective from which they are communicating. You and I have biases and perspectives on everything around us. Often, the most honest communication begins with revealing our own bias, but just because someone doesn’t reveal their bias or even admit that they have one, does not mean that there isn’t a hidden bias or agenda.
When a salesperson calls on you, he has a bias toward his product and an agenda to sell it to you. A politician has a bias toward her position and an agenda to get your support. This is normal, healthy, and natural until someone starts sharing questionable information with a hidden bias. Beware of anyone who doesn’t seem to have a bias, a motive, or an agenda.
As you go through your day today, always be aware of your own bias, agenda, and motives as well as those of other people.
Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.