How to know when someone has a hidden agenda


Some people learn that it is beneficial to hide their true motivation to achieve their goals. Instead of directly asking what they want, they invent superficial reasons for their requests or to justify their actions. These individuals manipulate others, keeping their true agenda hidden. They do not say the real reasons behind their actions. This can happen in the workplace, as well as with friends and family. Protect yourself from being taken advantage of by learning to recognize when someone has a hidden agenda.

Steps to follow:

1.Learn to read body language. It is easy for manipulative people to control themselves and not talk about their thoughts out loud, but it is not so easy for them to hide their true feelings in their gestures and facial expressions. Look at the contradictions between words and the look in their eyes. For example, a co-worker may suggest that you propose a specific program topic for the staff meeting. She tells him that it is not going to be a controversial issue, but his face might suggest otherwise. If you blink or shake while talking, you might suggest that she is hiding something.

2.Watch people carefully to detect the patterns of their behavior. If you suspect that someone has a hidden agenda, pay special attention to what he asks of you and others. Pay attention to the results every time you do what you request. For example, if someone frequently gives suggestions that seem useful but end up causing problems for you, it is wise to suspect that he knew this was going to happen.

3.Anticipate all possible consequences every time someone makes a suggestion of manipulation. Ask yourself: “Who is really going to benefit?” People with hidden agendas have learned over time to pretend they are not looking for their own interests. They will give you good reasons for your requests that seem to benefit you or others. Look at all angles of the situation to determine who is really more likely to benefit.

4.Suspect when something sounds too good to be true. If someone makes an offer that seems to put you at risk while giving you an advantage, look more carefully at what could go wrong. It is not worth being too confident when you are dealing with people who are not direct about your true intentions.

5.Ask a lot of questions when you suspect that someone has a hidden agenda. Even if they don’t answer your questions with the truth, your questions make you feel uncomfortable and defensive. This will probably be evident in your body language. Long before answering your questions, your body language will suggest that you have something to hide.


  • Avoid friends who take advantage of you. The old adage that “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” is very true. Try to relate to people who have proven themselves trustworthy.
  • Do not judge everyone you know for one or two bad experiences they may have had in the past. It is not healthy to suspect that all people have hidden motives. Judge all individuals above what you see in their behavior.