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How to Bluff Like a Champion

October 22, 2011

Bluffing is an art.

Bluffing is an art that if you don’t practice you won’t develop. If it’s not something that you come by naturally, then I’m here to give you a few pointers on making your bluff work. There are those people that come by it very naturally. They seem to be able to pull off a bluff using the most outlandish stories with the stakes high as they can be. Be careful not to try a bluff that is beyond your abilities just because you saw someone that was good pull it off. This brings up the first rule of a successful bluff. Size your bluff right.

Let’s call our creative wordsmith the bluffer. It is his job to create a scenario that leads another party to a course of action, and they must usually do it immediately or at least quick enough to avoid any kind of verification. Now, let’s call the recipient of our creative suggestive oratory the bluffed. The buffed has an important role in our endeavor because he is a decision maker. His decision is what we are trying to influence.

The final test of your bluff is in whether or not you have properly managed to make the decision maker do what you want them to do. Notice that I did not say that the bluffed person has to believe you, or trust you. For some situations this is just too much to ask. However to pull off a successful bluff, you will have to manipulate the decision. Sometimes, the very fact that the decision maker doesn’t trust you can compel them to do exactly what you want them to do.

In sizing a bluff right, you have to make sure that the scenario you present is not enough to make them drop everything else and call you on it. Yes, you can sell a bluff with conviction, and a good acting job, but by far most bluffs are successful because it’s more of a pain to call it then it is to proceed with the easiest course of action.

Here’s a common scenario. You have to take a bus to a band concert. As you get on the bus you say, “If I don’t get a window seat, I’m going to be so sick, I’ll play lousy.” The music teacher, who has a million things on her mind, finds that giving this to you gives her new headache an instant relief. What the heck, someone’s got to get the window seat. This is a successful bluff. Even better, it’s one that you can probably get away with over and over again. Identify the opportunities you have in your daily routine to get the little bluffs going. These are great practice for bigger scenarios because they help you work on your sales pitch and help you identify opportunities.

Here’s an example of a bigger bluff. You go with two other students to the principal’s office and demand to get real soda pop put back in the soda machines. “If you don’t we are going to organize a school march that encircles the building.” In this scenario you have pushed the bluffed into a position where he has to consider calling you out. He will have to consider your ability to organize a legal demonstration against the fallout he will face from disgruntled parents concerning soft drinks in the schools. Most likely, unless you are already known to have the charisma to motivate the entire student body, this bluff will get called. Large or small, don’t be afraid to try a good bluff. The worst you’ll hear is no.

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