Most learn the art of manipulation as children. Children learn quickly what a parent’s weaknesses are. They may plead, beg, give a look, or pester a parent until they get what they want. In my case, I don’t believe I ever manipulated my parents but I did manipulate a bully in school. It’s an interesting story, and I was sitting here thinking about it. The story explains the art of luring an enemy to a place of one’s choosing.
For any adolescent readers who may find this blog, do keep in mind that such actions done today could land you in a therapist’s office. This, however, was a decision I did to fight a pair of fools.
Having just moved to a new town, I was starting junior high without any social connections. That was a great disadvantage, especially with a school that was ripe with bullies.
In one of my classes, I sat in a seat with a fool behind me and a fool to my right. Together they acted as a terrorizing duo, beating up weaker kids. I was one of the weaker.
The fellow behind me would constantly flick the back of my ears. Once, the teacher saw him do this and demanded we both stand before the class. The teacher then instructed me to hit the bully.
“If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?”
I understood the teacher’s intent, but he didn’t understand that I had to deal with these guys every day. I refused to strike the bully for fear of consequences. Instead I formulated a different approach to getting back.
Baiting Attention (Law 8)
The bully who sat to my right would often grab my writing journal and read from it. I knew he couldn’t resist my journal. I used that to my advantage.
In the journal I sketched out a story of a young man who was bothered by two individuals. As the story went, the young man found a way to secretly overpower the two individuals and hung them from a tree, spilling their entrails to the ground.
I suppose it was a bit dark. I had no intention of killing anyone. My thought was that the bully would grab the journal, read this and would have to decide what to do next. He’d have to come to terms with some form of darkness sitting to his left, in the shape of a boy.
In this way I was baiting the bully. By drawing the curiosity of the bully, he was drawn to read the material and get a very different view that I was imposing upon him.
Hence the use of Law 8, “Make other people come to you – use Bait if Necessary”
Sure enough he tore the journal from my hands, and began to quietly read it. He grew silent. Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, he handed the journal back to me, and told the guy behind me to stop hitting me.
“What? Why should I stop bother this loser,” the idiot asked.
“Just… Just stop it. Trust me,” said the bully’s leader.
Never again did they bother me. Another law was unknowingly being used: Law 17.
Law 17 – “Keep others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an air of Unpredictability.”
If I had gone too far, and was too much a threat, they would have banded together to destroy me. By giving just enough threat value, and unpredictability, I put the bullies into a level of discomfort. Still, today, I wouldn’t recommend such an act, as it could easily be uncovered and be thought to be true feelings of an angry child – drawing them into forced mental therapy.
In a previous post (“The Master’s Ear”) I wrote about how I used a similar technique of drawing in the enemy. In that case it was my manager. Rather than directly express something, I used careful props on my desk that would draw him in.
In the story “The Master’s Ear,” I wasn’t attempting to impose myself a threat, but wanted my manager to see me as he might see himself. The so-called master in that story was the tyrant manager who belittled, yelled and screamed at his employees. I had to do something about it, and my approach was to plant seeds into his psyche.
There’s a power to the trick of luring someone to your cause. If I were to walk up to that manager and say, “Hey I like the stuff you like. I play video games, and I smoke and I have asthma…” it would squelch the goal. No matter how carefully it’s stated, a much more powerful approach is to lay the data in the path of the target. Let them pick up on it, in their own time, and they’ll believe THEY discovered something – which has a lot more credibility than anything I might bring up in casual conversation.