Have you ever heard of a skillful general, who intends to surprise a citadel, announcing his plan to his enemy? Conceal your purpose and hide your progress; do not disclose the extent of your designs until they cannot be opposed, until the combat is over. Win the victory before you declare the war. In a word, imitate those war like people whose designs are not known except by the ravaged country through which they have passed. (Ninon de Lenclos, 1623-1706)
It takes effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal. It is much more prudent to tailor your words, telling people what they want to hear rather than the coarse and ugly truth of what you feel or think. More important, by being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar that it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions.
Train yourself in the art of concealing your intentions. Master the art and you will always have the upper hand. Our first instinct is to always trust appearances. This fact makes it relatively easy to conceal one's intentions. Let's talk about how People Conceal Intentions and Fool You.
1. Use Decoyed Objects of Desire to Throw People Off
Support an idea or cause that is actually contrary to your own sentiments but will help you achieve your goal. Use this tactic in the following manner: Hide your intentions not by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive, and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals!—just not your real ones. You will kill three birds with one stone: You appear friendly, open, and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases.
2. False Sincerity
People easily mistake sincerity for honesty. Remember—their first instinct is to trust appearances, and since they value honesty and want to believe in the honesty of those around them, they will rarely doubt you or see through your act. Seeming to believe what you say gives your words great weight. Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in other. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons.
3. Bland Facial Expression
Behind a bland, unreadable exterior, all sorts of mayhem can be planned, without detection. This is a weapon that the most powerful men in history have learned to perfect.
4. Noble Gesture
People want to believe apparently noble gestures are genuine, for the belief is pleasant. They rarely notice how deceptive these gestures can be.
5. Appearing to Belong to a Group
The tendency to mistake appearances for reality—the feeling that if someone seems to belong to your group, their belonging must be real. This habit makes the seamless blend a very effective front. The trick is simple: You simply blend in with those around you. The better you blend, the less suspicious you become. Remember: It takes patience and humility to dull your brilliant colors, to put on the mask of the inconspicuous. Do not despair at having to wear such a bland mask—it is often your unreadability that draws people to you and makes you appear a person of power.
How do People Apply these Ways to Fool You ?
Simply dangle an object you seem to desire, a goal you seem to aim for, in front of people's eyes and they will take the appearance for reality. Once their eyes focus on the decoy, they will fail to notice what you are really up to. Politicians use this all the time.
Decoyed Objects of Desire and Making a Woman Fall in Love
The Marquis de Sevigne was inexperienced in the art of love. He confided in the infamous courtesan of seventeenth-century France, Ninon de Lenclos, to instruct him on how to seduce a difficult young countess. She made him follow a plan over a number of weeks, where the Marquis would be appearing in public always surrounded by beautiful women, in the very places the countess would be expected to see him. He was supposed to assume an air of nonchalance. This increased the jealousy of the young countess, who was not sure of his interest in her. One day the Marquis, unable to control his passion, broke from Ninon’s plan, and blurted out to the countess that he loved her. After this admission, the countess no longer found him interesting and avoided him. The whole premise of dating is based on games, wild moves and being unpredictable. If you display your feelings too soon it becomes an artless show of passion. A door closed that would never open again. In seduction, set up conflicting^ signals, such as desire and indifference, and you not only throw them off the scent, you inflame their desire to possess you.
Otto von Bismarck became Prime Minister of Prussia
Otto von Bismarck was a deputy in the Prussian parliament at a time when many fellow deputies thought it was possible to go to war against Austria and defeat it. Bismarck wanted to go on war but he knew that the King was not in favour of it. He also knew the Prussian army was not prepared, so he devised a clever way. He publicly stated his praises for the Austrians and talked about the madness of war. Many deputies changed their votes. Had Bismarck announced his real intentions, arguing it was better to wait now and fight later, he would not have won. Most Prussians wanted to go to war at that moment and mistakenly believed their army to be superior to the Austrians. Had he gone to the king his sincerity would have been doubted. By giving misleading statements about wanting peace and concealing his true purpose, Bismarck’s speech catapulted him to the position of prime minister. He later led the country to war against the Austrians at the right time, when he felt the Prussian army was more capable and united Germany.
Duke of Marlborough used this in the Spanish Succession
During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1711, the Duke of Marlborough, head of the English army, wanted to destroy a key French fort, because it protected a vital thoroughfare into France. Yet he knew that if he destroyed it, the French would realize what he wanted—to advance down that road. Instead, then, he merely captured the fort, and garrisoned it with some of his troops, making it appear as if he wanted it for some purpose of his own. The French attacked the fort and the duke let them recapture it. Once they had it back, though, they destroyed it, figuring that the duke had wanted it for some important reason. Now that the fort was gone, the road was unprotected, and Marlborough could easily march into France.
Iago deceived and destroyed Othello by being Sincere
Given the depth of his emotions, the apparent sincerity of his concerns about Desdemona's supposed infidelity, how could Othello distrust him? Sincerity is a tricky tool: Appear over passionate and you raise suspicions. Be measured and believable or your ruse will seem the put-on mat it is.
Henry Kissinger used Bland Face to win opponents
Henry Kissinger would bore his opponents around the negotiating table to tears with his monotonous voice, his blank look, his endless recitations of details; then, as their eyes glazed over, he would suddenly hit them with a list of bold terms. Caught off-guard, they would be easily intimidated. As one poker manual explains it, "While playing his hand, the good player is seldom an actor. Instead he practices a bland behavior that minimizes readable patterns, frustrates and confuses opponents, permits greater concentration."
Spies use "Appearing to Belong to a Group" Method
During the Cold War of the 1950s and '60s, as is now notorious, a slew of British civil servants passed secrets to the Soviets. They went undetected for years because they were apparently decent chaps, had gone to all the right schools, and fit the old-boy network perfectly.
|The 'Laws of Power' Series will outline the laws which will help you to become Powerful and Avoid Getting Manipulated. Get the series by email. The Laws are adapted from The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The completed series at The Laws of Power: How to Become Powerful and Avoid Getting Manipulated.|
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External Related articles
- Mission Command: An Organizational Model for Our Time (blogs.hbr.org)
- The Generic Villain Chooses a Decoy from Exchange of Realities (exchangeofrealities.com)
- Character Is a Skill: (brothersjuddblog.com)