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 o