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Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal

The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma: They are gored wherever they turn.

Words like 'freedom,' 'options,' and 'choice' evoke a power of possibility far beyond the reality of the benefits they entail. When examined closely, the choces we have - in the marketplace, in elections, in our jobs - tend to have noticeable limitations. They are often a matter of choisce simply between A and B, with the remainder of the alphabet out of the range of possibility. Yet, as long as the faintest mirage of choice flickers on, we rarely focus on the missing options.

J P Morgan, Sr. once told a jeweler of his acquaintance that he was interested in acquiring a pearl scarf-pin. A few weeks later, the jeweller happened upon a magnificent pearl. He had it mounted upon an appropriate setting and sent it to Morgan, with an invoice for $5000. The following day the package was returned, with an accompanying note, which stated, "I like the pin, but I do not like the price. If you will accept the enclosed cheque for $4000, please send back the box with the seal unbroken." The jeweller refused the cheque and dismissed the messenger. He unsealed the box to reclaim the unwanted pin, only to find a cheque for $5000.

This supplies the clever and cunning with enormous opportunities for deception. Few people, who are choosing between two alternatives, find it difficult to believe that they are being manipulated or deceived. They can not see that you are allowing them a small amount of free will, in exchange for a much more powerful imposition of your will. setting up a narrow range of choices, then, should always be part of your plans.

The following are among the more collon forms of "controlling the options":

  1. Color the Choices.

    This is a favored technique of Henry Kissinger. As Richard Nixon's secretary of state, Kissinger considered himself better informed than his boss. But, if he tried to determine policy, he would offend, or possibly enrage, a notoriously insecure man. So, Kissinger would propose three or four choices of action for each situation, and would present them in such a waythat the onez he preferred always seemed to be the best solution. Time after time, Nixon took the bait, never suspecting that he was moving where Kissinger pulled him.

  2. Force the Resister.

    This is a good technique to use on children and other willful people, who enjoy doing the opposite of what you ask of them. Push them to 'choose' what you want them to do, by appearing to advocate the opposite.

  3. Alter the Playing Field.

    In the 1860's John D. Rockefeller set out to create an oil monopoly. If he tried to buy up the smaller companies they would learn what he was doing and resist. Instead, he secretly beganbuying the railroad companies that transported the oil. Rockefeller altered the playing field, so that the only options the small oil producers had were the ones he offerd.

  4. The Shrinking Options

    Raise your price every day the buyer hesitates. This is an excellent negotiating ploy to use, when you are dealing with the chronially indecisive.

  5. The Weak Man on the Precipice

    This tactic is similar to "Color the Coices" but with the weak and indecisive you need to be more agressive. Work on their emotions. Use fear to propel them into action. If you try to reason with them, they will procrastinate.
    Describe all sorts of dangers, exaggerating them as much as possible, until they see a yawning abyss in every direction except for the one you are encouraging them to take.

  6. The Horns of a Dilemma.

    This is a classic trial lawyer's technique: the lawyer leads the witness to decide between two possible explanations of an event, both of which poke a hole in their story. However they answer the question, they hurt themselves. The key to this move is to strike quickly. Deny the victim the time to think of an escape. As they wiggle through the horns of the delemma, they dig their own hole.

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