Conceal your intentions in order to receive what you want…
You want something. However, there is a superior of some sort withholding that item of desire from you. This superior may be a boss withholding a raise or vacation days, a landlord withholding pets in an apartment, or a parent withholding curfew or another privilege. A tactic to resolve this type of conflicts is to use a “red herring” while making your case to a superior. Here is an anecdote of how I used a “red herring” with my landlord in order to be allowed a cat in my apartment.
Red Herring (noun): Something that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting. ~Google Dictionary (not to be confused with a dried smoked herring, which is turned red by the smoke)
A month into my rent, I decided to get a cat. However, I was at a disadvantage of being allowed one: during the rent negotiations, I did not discuss the issue of pets. I had signed the lease, which meant requesting a pet was something extra. Aware of my disadvantage, I called him and told him I wanted to live with a dog, specifically a German Shepherd. We went back and forth until he adamantly stated I was not allowed a German Shepherd because he thought it was too big for my apartment and I did not have time to walk it. At this moment, I said I was willing to have a cat instead. A cat was be smaller and took less maintenance. Compared to my insists for a German Shepherd, asking for a cat looked harmless. The landlord consented and gave me permission to have a cat. At no point did I want a German Shepherd, my appeal for one was simply a distraction, a “red herring.”
Most people are direct when asking for something. This turns out to be the hardest way to get what is wanted. Often, superiors will deny your requests for their own reasons, including the need to maintain a feeling of superiority. Before you discuss what you want, use a “red herring” as a distraction. After they reject the “red herring”, then bring up your true need. Up to this point, your superior’s focus and energy was on thinking of reasons to deny your initial request. When you come back with what you really want, they will be unprepared to shoot it down. Also, they will feel they retained their superior status by denying you at first, while being merciful with you when they allow your second request. An appropriate “red herring” is one that is of more perceived value than your real request. When you go in for your real request, it looks like you are asking for a compromise. Therefore, a “red herring” allows for a win-win situation: your superior feels powerful because they denied your first ask while being merciful with an agreement to compromise, and you feel good because you got what you wanted all along.