Learn to Act
I once had an actor friend who, though not particularly famous, was indeed a good actor. I can still remember an occasion when I was waiting for him outside a restaurant where we were planning to have lunch. I scanned the street in both directions, looking at the people passing by, expecting him to show up but not seeing him.
Suddenly, he said, “Hello, Bob,” and he was standing right next to me. I jumped. How had he gotten there without my seeing him approach? Then I realized that I had been looking for a man in a flannel shirt (my friend always wore flannel shirts) with a big stride.
I had seen the man next to me wearing a dark jacket and stumbling up to me with a lame leg. But I hadn’t given him a second glance because he wasn’t what I was looking for. Rather, I had in my mind an image of my friend and I was trying to apply it to everyone on the street.
In computer technology terms, my image recognition software was at fault. As a practical matter, simply by wearing an unexpected dark coloredjacket and by limping a little, my friend had completely dis guised himself to me. Of course, he was simply doing it as an exercise, a part of his trade. Nevertheless, it brought home to me the point that people aren’t always who they seem. Indeed, sometimes people can purposely be different from who they are. And that can lead to certain negotiating advantages—or if you’re unprepared, disadvantages.