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Red Herring

 

Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Red Herring

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Lay a false trail that the other person will follow.

Make sure the trail goes away from the things you do not want them to discover.

If you want them to waste time, make the trail long.

If you want them to expend effort, make the trail difficult to follow (but with enough interesting clues to keep them sniffing.

You can highlight 'problems' which turn out not to be problems (after a degree of examination).

Be careful to retain credibility, for example by referencing the trail through other people.

Example

A company shows some interesting, but minor problems to an auditor, distracting them from the really serious issues that may be found elsewhere.

There might be a problem with the paintwork, let's look...No! The paintwork is, in fact, perfect.

Discussion

Laying a false trail leads people away from areas that you do not want them to see. To do this, the trail must be of sufficient interest that the other person misses any clues to other areas.

Red herrings are particularly useful when the activity is time-bound -- that is, time spent following the red herring is time that can not be spent in other areas.

Talking about problems that are not really problems has effects beyond distraction. For example, it may show you in a positive light as willing to highlight issues that may count against you. Also, the relief that problems are not problems creates a sense of closure that easily becomes agreement to the deal.

If the other person realizes that it is a deliberate red herring, they may be very unhappy about this, so it should either be cloaked carefully or you must be protected from any anger.

See also

Confusion principle, Red Herring (storytelling)

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