To Achieve, Share Your Goals with the Right People
With whom do you share your aspirations and goals? Research suggests that they should be of a higher status than you are. In a set of four studies published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, research shows that people are more dedicated to their goals when they share them with someone of higher status or with more respect and prestige because they care about how they are perceived by that person. The research also shows that it is unhelpful when goals are shared with someone of a lower status or simply kept to that person. Howard Klein, author of the study and professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, says part of the reasons for these results is because “You don’t want them to think less of you because you didn’t attain your goal.”
This research conflicts with a 2009 study and a TED talk that reached more than 6 million views, stating that you should not express your goals and viewed sharing goals with anyone as counterproductive. On the other hand, Howard says, “Contrary to what you may have heard, in most cases you get more benefit from sharing your goal than if you don’t—as long as you share it with someone whose opinion you value.”
One of the studies found that working adults who share their goals are more committed to attaining them when shared with someone of a higher status. Another study analyzed 171 undergraduates sharing their goals and interacting with someone they believed to be of a higher status and someone they viewed as a lower status. The results reported that they were more committed to achieving their goals when interacting with the higher status individual. Those who shared their goals with the lower status individual did not perform any better than those who did not express their goals.
Howard says that a major factor in goal commitment is telling the person whose opinion you care about. He says, “You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to.”
It may be beneficial to communicate this research with your clients when they are pursuing their goals and aspirations. Maybe they are looking for a job promotion or upward mobility within their careers. Ask them who it might be beneficial to share their goals with. Their supervisor? Their mentor? According to Klein, there is one important factor when expressing your goals with someone, “…you need to care about the opinion of who you are telling,” he says.