Playing Dumb

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Identification

This tactic involves asking simple questions and accepting answers earnestly, and seeming simple, uninformed, or gullible. Once the offeror thinks they have a stooge, the ambiguity is then exploited. This has the effect of making the person who is driving the deal believe they are in charge, ultimately being deceived into a position later, or giving away more information than they should have.

Example

Negotiator 1: “I know nothing of your technology. It confuses me and seems expensive.” Negotiator 2: “It costs very little, the cost of a daily cup of coffee for one month.” Negotiator 1: “So if I write you a check for that, you will give me the device?”Negotiator 2: “Yes.”Negotiator 1: “Are you sure? How can you make money on that?”Negotiator 2: “I’m sure.”Negotiator 1: “Here is your check.” Negotiator 2: “But this is for $7.50!”Negotiator 1: “Yes. The cost of one cup a day for a month.”Negotiator 2: “The cheapest cup at Starbucks is $2.”Negotiator 1: “Star-who? I make my own.”

Solution

Notice how the alleged “stooge” will try to talk you into a corner and exploit the ambiguity. If this is detected, take advantage of the ruse and corral the person to an objective decision point; motivate them to get into the moment and close. When called on it, it is hard to keep up the ruse.

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