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Fait Accompli


Techniques General persuasion > More methods > Fait Accompli

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Do what you want to do. Take what you want. Go where you want to go. Do not ask for permission or advice. Just act. Then tell people about it or just let them find out by themselves.

Do not tell anyone (and even hide your actions) until there is no way they can reverse your decision. Also, if it makes sense, delay telling until you have evidence that your decision was right.

Before using a fait accompli, consider the distress and anger of others when they find out, the condemnation and punishment you will receive, and the guilt and shame you will feel. If you can handle this, then go ahead.


A husband buys a new and expensive camera without consulting his wife.

A sales person makes a big sale of a product that is not yet ready, then presents this fact to the R&D department in order to force them to speed up product release.

A teenager gets a tattoo without consulting her parents.


The fait accompli is a deceptive means getting what you want. By avoiding normal disclosure and discussion, the risk of short-term refusal is avoided. Yet subsequent censorship and punishment may be far greater as others react to the deception.

It has been said that it is easier to get forgiveness than permission. The fait accompli uses this principle by not asking and so avoiding any debate or interference.

A problem with the fait accompli is that it puts the perpetrator in a position above existing rules and laws, and as a judge of those who might say 'no'. It assumes the person knows all the reasons for rules and motivations of others.

Fait accomplis, as with other deceptions, can be used for good as well as selfish gain. The difference here is in the intent of the deceiver. Where the censor might be selfish, misinformed or constrained by inappropriate rules, then circumventing the approval step can result in benefit for others. It also depends on the person's relative ability to make a good decision. It is seldom wise to use a fait accompli when you know relatively little, but can be a good idea when others are making foolish decisions. In product design and development, for example, a 'skunkworks' is a group of people who covertly work on a project that has or might be shelved. Many revolutionary products have been developed this way.

See also

Authority principle

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