Posted on January 10, 2015 12:21 am

My personality traits are one of the 36 Stratagems "Play Dumb While Remaining Smart"

I was reading a post in a group where great minds get together to discuss marketing tactics, mainly sales copy tailored around persuasion and reading people. The post was about intentionally “Play Dumb While Remaining Smart” to gain advantage over them in some way or another.

Then I started to see how I do this in my own life, I must stress I don’t do it intentionally to gain advantage over people, I believe its part of my personality and also my mannerisms and politeness.

I see it like leaving £100,000 somewhere with a message saying “this money belongs to someone please don’t take it” but giving people the opportunity to take it without anyone ever finding out it was them.

It’s my way of getting to know new people, you really get to learn a lot about people when they “know” (think) they can take advantage of you, talk to you how they please or they can clearly see a weakness in you.

They naturally show there true selves no matter how hard they try to hide it or what image they try to hide behind they stumble and act up to my perceived weaknesses.

There is this whole other intelligent silent Lewis reading and analysing, who not many people see. I’m there the whole time but some people can’t seem to see past the Lewis on the outside.

This “outside” Lewis, Usually comes across as someone who’s slow, spineless, weak, never confrontational and extremely gullible. Never feared by anyone people become transparent and overconfident.

The good thing is, most people are genuine, they are themselves at all times treat me as equal to them and even show a kinder heart towards me and others because of these traits I appear to have.

Being someone who “doesn’t know how to say NO” has massive advantages believe me.

I would do things for someone and suddenly find myself with extra cash in my hand even though I never asked, and never done these things for the money in the first place. I love these people, there are not many of them and I open up to them, quickly building a good relationship and hopefully end up being good friends.

But some other people are fooled into believing they hold some kind of “super power” over me when really they are victims of their own ego. Believing I am gullible is the one thing which trips people up the most, I see this gleam in their eye, like a light bulb switches on. They then ramble on about some random story which makes them out to be superior or look as if they are smart or cleaver.

They intentionally create this image of who they want me to perceive them as and 100% of the time I am really seeing something completely different. A liar? A cheat? Depending on what they say, lost in a world where they think status is important. They speak about things they shouldn’t in front of me, they let their guard down and are immediately open for attack. However, I’m not confrontational so I don’t attack and make them look like the fool, I simply take it in and give more chances for them to understand who I am, I give them a chance to just be them self and show me who they really are.

The people that don’t, don’t stay in my life for very long or I keep at a distance if they are a part of my life. The people that do start to understand me and show me their true self, I interact with and gradually open up too but I still seem to come across to them as that outside Lewis, they just stop taking advantage of it.

The best people are the ones who I spoke of first, the ones which reward my kindness, never take advantage of it and treat me as an equal. I give them time in my thoughts and try to help them as much as I can, I try to make a good impact on their lives no matter how big or small.

Now I know I spoke about myself a lot there but it was just an observation of myself I thought I would share.

By the way there is a name for it and it was used as a war strategy by the Chinese or Japanese I can’t remember. Read it if you have a few minutes, very interesting but I wouldn’t recommend doing any of these strategy’s intentionally for personal gain.

36 Stratagems

Read “Play Dumb While Remaining Smart”

Stratagem
Action
Play foolish or weak so they do not take you seriously. Conceal your strengths until it is the best time to reveal them.

Speak less during discussions. Encourage others to speak while you listen and bide your time. Appear disinterested or confused. Look like you are trying but are missing key points.

Wait until they have dropped their guard or are ignoring you before attacking.

Number
This is the twenty-seventh stratagem of thirty-six.

Group name
Stratagems for Gaining Ground

Alternative names
Be Wise but Play the Fool

Feign Madness but Keep your Balance

Feign Ignorance Without Going Crazy

Or even:

Play Dumb

History
Liu Bei was plotting to overthrow Cao Cao. Cao Cao came to visit so Liu Bei pretended to be crazy in case Cao Cao knew about the plot. In this way he avoided detection.

After defeat in World War 2, Japan acted humbly while building a powerful industrial base.

Discussion
When others think you are foolish, they will not perceive you as a threat and so will not attack you. They may also get careless and reveal information you can use or vulnerabilities you can attack.

There is a risk when playing the fool that they try to remove you or attack you. Always be on your guard but also seek to avoid being exposed.

There are many stereotypes about intelligence, for example people with disabilities or of different racial groups, nationalities and even gender are often assumed to be less intelligent. While it can be frustrating, this gives those people a possible advantage in using this stratagem.

The Shakespearean fool played stupid while being really quite intelligent. This allowed him to be accepted as harmless in most places. The TV detective Columbo played this game too, pretending to be unintelligent while asking suspects ‘dumb’ questions. Even emperors such as Claudius used apparent lack of intelligence to their advantage.

A reversal of this stratagem is to pretend you know more than you do in order to create uncertainty and paralysis.