How To Master The Art Of Bluffing
Whether it’s in your job or in a relationship, you will at some point find it useful to bluff. Bluffing is essentially a form of coercion. It is a way of shaking the confidence of others so as to get your own way. Some people are naturally good at it; most aren’t. If you’re in the latter category, you need not worry: you can master the art of bluffing; all you need are the right tools.
If you’re bucking for a raise or promotion but don’t want to show how much you need it, if you’re keen to keep your girlfriend from leaving you but don’t want to seem desperate, you’re probably in circumstances perfect for a well-timed, well-placed, and well-executed bluff. Though the aim of a bluff can be quite basic or even crude, the art of putting one over requires finesse, courage, and steadiness.
Here are five tips to mastering the art of bluffing
Bluffs that are extravagant and convoluted are not bluffs at all. Bluffing must be visceral; it must be simple and straightforward enough to unnerve and unsettle the other person. The best bluffs are those which paint a bleak and frightening picture of what the consequences will be if the other person doesn’t heed your demands. Bluffing is most effective when delivered in a clear and calm tone. You don’t want to come across as a bully, but as someone who is cool, collected, and serious about the calamity that will follow any thwarting of your desires.
The worst thing you can do is bluff when under threat. This is bluffing from a position of weakness, and it is likely to backfire. It is vital that you think through what you actually want before you use a bluff to get it. If you feel angry, anxious, or scared because of what you’ve just been threatened with, you will not be clear-headed enough to make cold, calculated decisions. And you will certainly be in no state to deliver a convincing bluff.
A bluff is not an act of deception; it is a performance of will. You can exaggerate, overemphasize, generalize, and distract when bluffing, but you should never lie. If, for example, you threaten to leave your current job for a new one unless you’re given what you believe you deserve, it’s perfectly fine to tell the other person that your skills, knowledge, and experience will get you higher pay and a better position at another company. However, you should not say that you’ve had an offer from another company unless you actually have one in hand. It’s not as hard as you may think to verify such information. There is also the fact that your bluff may be called. Then what? If you retract, then your credibility will be shot—at least for the short term. Indeed, you may be asked to leave in either case, which means you’ll be out of a job with no new one waiting.
In connection with the last point, you should always be ready to back up your bluff with real action. To use another example, let’s say you’re in the midst of a business deal. You’ve compromised and given in, and you’ve now reached a line that you’re not willing to cross. You threaten to pull out unless the other side accepts the deal you’ve negotiated or something comparable. If the other side calls your bluff and decides to make further demands, you had better be prepared to accept that the deal is dead and move on.
You should never risk everything on a bluff. Remember, bluffing is only a means to an end. You should arrange things so that you can attain your goal by other means if the bluff doesn’t work or so that you can actually walk away and still be safe if you have to follow through with your threat.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.