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Play Dumb

 

Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Play Dumb

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Act stupid. Ask dumb questions. Be a bit confused. Do not show how smart you are.

When they talk about things, apologize for not quite understanding and ask them to explain various details again. Frame your requests as if they had just occurred to you. Be impressed at their ideas.

While not actually being stupid in annoying them or agreeing to things that disadvantage you, be vague and give the impression of being their intellectual inferior.

Example

That sounds amazing. I don't know how you thought of that.

Um, sorrry, I didn't get that bit about finance stuff. Could you explain it more simply, please?

Ooh. How about this. Maybe you could bring a spare in case the first goes wrong. I think that would help avoid contract failure. Is that right?

Discussion

When people think you are smart, they will be on their guard and will avoid giving things away. They also may resent being made to feel relatively unintelligent. When people feel superior, they feel safe and so relax. They become less guarded and may let slip important pieces of information.

Appearing less intelligent while not giving things away is a delicate balancing trick. Much can be done to help this by using simple language, acting unsure and praising the other person. Listening intently and agreeing to as much as possible also helps them feel good.

To get what you want, you may leave your proposals until later, when you have gathered much useful inform action. Another approach is to casually get agreement on small items then change the subject and keep flattering them.

See also

Bluff, Confusion principle

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