The excerpt below is from http://cnn.com. I am posting it not only because it is an interesting and inspiring piece of US history but also perhaps instructive for Diddly readers. If someone is keeping secrets from you, they respect you at one level. If they tell you everything, they don’t respect you at some level. The reverse could also said to be true, especially in partnerships such as marraige . However, when we find ourselves in adversarial situations, we can gain an advantage by trying to be no more threatening than a piece of furniture.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — William Jackson was a slave in the home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. It turns out he was also a spy for the Union Army, providing key secrets to the North about the Confederacy.
William Jackson, a slave, listened closely to Jefferson Davis’ conversations and leaked them to the North.
Jackson was Davis’ house servant and personal coachman. He learned high-level details about Confederate battle plans and movements because Davis saw him as a “piece of furniture” — not a human, according to Ken Dagler, author of “Black Dispatches,” which explores espionage by America’s slaves.
“Because of his role as a menial servant, he simply was ignored,” Dagler said. “So Jefferson Davis would hold conversations with military and Confederate civilian officials in his presence.”
Dagler has written extensively on the issue for the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence .