In the movies after the spies load up on gadgets and get behind enemy lines they take on a cover identity. We can use cover identities as well, whether to blend in with locals, negotiate for the boss, or for any other reason you want to pretend to be someone else.
In the movies they don’t do much to make it their own, but in the real world it is a difficult to maintain and conceal your identity for a long period of time. However, many intelligence operatives do it without choice or complaint.
Why would you Want to Assume a Cover
Spies use a cover to convince others they are trustworthy and to avoid suspicion. A cover isn’t just a disguise, assuming a cover identity allows you the opportunity to step into the shoes of others and think like someone else. A cover identity allows you to understand their culture and environment and better analyze someone else’s behavior. Additionally even trying on a different identity in your head can help you think through difficult situations.
Thinking like the other person and putting yourself in their shoes can help in all kinds of situations. Assuming a cover can be more valuable than personal gain it can be a powerful way to be a more well-rounded and flexible person, not mentioning how it can help your creative skills for blogging or writing. Here’s how..
Choose a Cover Identity that You relate to
The International Spy Museum in Washington DC asks you to assume an identity for the duration of your visit. You choose your name, date of birth, your country of origin, your reason for traveling-all details you might be asked at a border checkpoint. You should choose a cover that you can actually maintain. How you choose to disguise yourself depends what you want to achieve.
- If you’re trying to avoid detection, choose a cover you can easily maintain through questioning. You should be able to respond and converse with no difficulty. This is assuming no-one is looking for you.
- Know the basic details, they should come easily, without hesitation. Your DOB, job, address, favorite food and drink, and other basic details of the person you have decided to become.
You don’t want to get caught out if someone asks what school you went to in your new identity’s home town, the local sports team or other basic things as a resident you should know. Don’t be afraid to draw on your own experiences as long as it works with your new identity. Truthful stories are the most convincing, so if you get into a conversation about your family or an experience that would work in the situation use it. Tell the truth whenever you can, it makes your cover more believable.
You can take a few more risks with a cover. If you’re trying to blend with locals, learn where they hang out before you go. Try to learn a little of their language even if it’s just some basics, and check out some maps before you go so you can get around without needing one or having to ask when you get there.
Whether you pretend to be a local to fit in or because you just want to avoid coming across as a tourist putting on a mental disguise can help. Choose a cover you’re comfortable with.
Learn As Much As Possible Before You Need It
Maintaining a cover is being able to avoid suspicion while emulating the appropriate behavior of your cover. The same applies whether for business or for fun. A little research goes a long way towards better understanding the persona you are trying to be.
Try On Multiple Identities for Size
Put yourself in the mindset of different identities as you try them out to see what fits best. Few of us will ever convince another person we’re someone we’re not, but pretending can boost your ego and help deal with difficult situations. A little confidence goes a long way, and pretending can help with confidence when you know what you are doing.
Stand Up to Questioning, but Don’t Be a Know It All. Don’t pretend to know everything. Think how to converse with people about things you’re knowledgeable about. Remember, the goal isn’t to prove you know everything about them. Your goal is to avoid suspicion, or to learn something about the person, place, or situation so you’ can better handle it.
The whole point of engaging locals is to get their experience and to learn more about their culture. Empathy can help you understand where someone else is coming from.
Know When To Get Rid of the Cover
You can learn a lot about yourself by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, have a lot of fun at social occasions being someone you’re not. You can learn about your capacity to lie and to keep up a disguise in the process. Yet there’s a point when you need to return to your own identity.
The basics of maintaining a cover are for study, memory, and empathy. It’s a tough job to maintain a cover, but even trying it on for a short period can do wonders for your character and teach you to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. That is, as long as you drop your cover and don’t try to make it permanent.
Enjoy the experience and have fun but know when to let it go.