Terms like Machiavellian (after an Italian politician and author) and having an agenda are quite neutral, but they’re mostly used with negative nuance. What is wrong with having an agenda? Someone just told me, as a compliment, how refreshing it is that I don’t have one. Um. I do. Of course. I’m here, aren’t I?
A very useful ability is to be able to suspend judgement until we are fully aware of all the information, like rational adults conducting business, ordering lunch or managing triage would ideally do. Agenda setting is supposed to be about fact gathering.
You can presume we have a purpose in engaging one another and therefore an agenda. We may not have the same one, but you can be sure there is at least one. What would be the point otherwise of doing whatever it is you propose we are doing here, instead of being home by the pool?
Agenda is not a dirty word; it simply means there are points up for discussion or decision making. You’d better have one, or you may end up having mine.
I ask for the agenda before I accept a meeting request; maybe I don’t need to be there. I also ask outright what someone’s personal agenda is when it isn’t clear and find people usually like to share the real issue. In both cases – no agenda? No show.