The Strategy of Injuring Yourself

Strategy 34

Pretending to be injured has two possible applications. In the first, the enemy is lulled into relaxing his guard since he no longer considers you to be an immediate threat. The second is a way of ingratiating yourself to your enemy by pretending the injury was caused by a mutual enemy.

Modern Example

Early in my career, a fellow developer took it upon himself to lecture me about what he perceived to be my many defects. He took the liberty of doing so in front of a group of my peers. Since we were off-site, I turned on the waterworks. No one could have done a more convincing job than I did of appearing contrite and hanging on his every word. Instead of arguing with him, I listened. Better yet, I agreed with his every assessment. Thanking him for his feedback and promising to make dramatic changes might not have convinced him, but my tears lent an air of sincerity to the proceedings that I know he never thought I could merely portray. Once he'd vented completely, he was sure I was no longer a threat to him and that he had me under control. But his tactics backfired completely in the weeks to come. He had shocked and appalled two of his colleagues who witnessed his tirade, making enemies of them for good. It made me the instant ally of any of his enemies, and he had plenty. I was able to acquire all sorts of information from him, since he'd let down his guard. Eventually, he left for greener pastures. Using the information I'd acquired from him, I blocked all of his attempts to be able to turn my then-company into a client of his. His words might have hurt me, but I got him back where it really counted - in the wallet.