To Catch Something, First Let It Go

Strategy 16

Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack. To prevent this you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom. His will to fight is thus dampened by his desire to escape. When in the end the freedom is proven a falsehood the enemy's morale will be defeated and he will surrender without a fight.

Modern Example

A former employer once tried to do this to me. Layoffs were imminent, and I was assured that they were "doing everything they could to keep me off that list", and that they were trying to transfer me to a department where I would be more secure against the cuts. What they didn't want, however, was for me to find another job and leave them in the lurch with replacements now so difficult to find (who would want to join a company just as massive layoffs were starting?). However, I knew that I was on that layoff list, and that they wanted to have the element of surprise on their side, so that I wouldn't be difficult to remove from the building or argue with them over the separation package. I looked for a job without their knowing. I "worked" from conference rooms, taking recruiter calls. I scheduled everything on my Palm Pilot, but never let it share data with my work computer. I quietly took all my personal items home, replacing most with stock items from the supply cabinet. If they'd known about my job searching, I wouldn't have gotten a package, yet it was sheer hell to stay with a good attitude, since they so obviously wanted me gone. Finally, the big day came. I was called to a conference room for an "update" to a "project", where I was presented with my layoff package. I managed a most reluctant face, thanked them and wished them good luck, slung my purse over my shoulder and danced right out of the building. That was just before lunch; by late afternoon, I'd already landed my new job and was being shown around the office. Surrender without a fight? Never.