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If you are new to this series, please read the introduction.


Use Selective Honesty And Generosity

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of unpleasant ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can influence their decisions, at will. A timely gift - a Trojan horse- will serve the same purpose.
Francesco Borri of Milan, was a forerunner of that special type of charlatan adventurer, the courtier imposter. His real period of glory began after he moved to Amsterdam. There he assumed the title of Medico Universale, maintained a great retinue, and drove about in a coach with six horses. Patients streamed to him, and some invalids had themselves carried in sedan chairs all the way from Paris to his place in Amsterdam. Borri took no payment for his consultations; he distributed great sums among the poor and was never known to receive money through the post or bills of exchange. As he continued to live with such splendor, it was presumed that he possessed the philosopher's stone. Suddenly, this benefactor disappeared from Amsterdam. Then it was discovered that he had taken with him money and diamonds that had been placed in his charge. - The Power of the Charlatan, 1939

The essence of deception is distraction. Distracting the people you want to deceive gives you time and space to do something they will not notice. An act of kindness, generosity, or honesty is the most powerful form of distraction, because it disarms the other people's suspicions. It turns them into children, eagerly accepting any kind of affectionate gesture.

In ancient China, this was called "giving before you take" - the giving makes it difficult for the other person to notice the taking. It is a device with infinite practical uses. Brazenly taking something from someone is dangerous, even for the powerful. The victim will plot revenge. It is also dangerous simply to ask for what you need, no matter how politely: Unless the other person sees some gain for themselves, they may begin to resent your neediness. Learn to give before you take. It softens the ground, takes the bite out of a future request, or simply creates a distraction. The giving can take many forms: an actual gift, a generous act, a kind favor, an "honest" admission- whatever it takes.

Selective honesty is best employed on your first encounter with someone. We are all creatures of habit and our first impressions last a long time. If someone believes you are honest at the start of your relationship, it takes a lot to convince them otherwise. This gives you room to maneuver.

A single act of honesty is often not enough. What is required is a reputation for honesty, built on a series of acts- but these can be quite inconsequential. Once this reputation is established, as with first impression, it is hard to shake.

Imagine A Trojan Horse - Your guile is hidden inside a magnificent gift that proves to be irresistible to your opponent. The walls open. Once inside, wreak havoc.

In ancient China, Duke Wu, of Chêng, decided it was time to take over the increasingly powerful kingdom of Hu. Telling no one of his plan, he married his daughter to Hu's ruler. He then called a counsel and asked his ministers, " I am considering a military campaign. Which country should we invade?" As he expected, one of his ministers replied, "Hu should be invaded." The duke seemed angry, and said, "Hu is a sister state, now. Why do you suggest invading her?" He had the minister executed for his impolitic remark. The ruler of Hu heard about this and considering other tokens of Hu's honesty and the marriage with his daughter, he took no precautions to defend himself from Chêng. A few weeks later, Chêng forces swept through Hu and took the country, never to relinquish it.

When Duke Hsien of Chin was about to raid Yu, he presented to them a jade and a team of horses. When Earl Chih was about to raid Ch'ou-yu, he presented to them grand chariots. Hence the saying: "When you are about to take, you should give." - Han Fei Tzu, third century

Honesty is one of the best ways to disarm the wary, but it is not the only one. Any kind of noble, apparently selfless act will serve. Perhaps the best such act is one of generosity. Few people can resist a gift, even from the most hardened enemy, which is why it is often the perfect way to disarm people. A gift brings out the child in us, instantly lowering our defenses. Although we often view other people's actions in the most cynical light, we rarely see the Machiavellian element of a gift, which quite often hides motives. A gift is the perfect object, in which to hide a deceptive move.

This tactic must be practiced with caution. If people see through it, their disappointed feelings of gratitude and warmth will become the most violent hatred and distrust. Unless you can make the gesture seem sincere and heartfelt, do not play with fire.

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