At the essence of closeness is control. Everything that separates you from closeness loosens your control. The distance of time is one of those things.
We see it with powerful companies that want problematic stories to dissipate and die. We see it daily in the legal system. We even see it in our personal affairs.
Most of us know when the delay tactic is being used but that doesn’t stop delay from being any less frustrating. Frustrating because yes, we lose time, but also because it’s extremely effective.
Every season the NFL enlists the delay tactic to help diffuse any number of public nightmares they face. They acknowledge an issue and vow to look into it. But by the time they come to any sort of resolution, the public emotion (outrage) is weakened if not mostly forgotten. Months after a story breaks it’s very hard for it to reemerge as a hot and lasting headline.
Lawyers in both civil and criminal law leverage delay into huge victories.
On the criminal side, defense lawyers often reset trials multiple times because it weakens the desire to pursue prosecution and evidence (ie witnesses memories fade).
Civilly, the delay tactic can be deployed to eliminate financially weaker parties and/or frustrate the opposition into settlement.
The delay tactic works much the same in our personal lives. Ever have someone keep putting you off until you relented or even lost out?
Think of that boss who keeps promising to “look into a bonus” for you but never does.
Or what about the companies that issue rebates contingent on you jumping through an array of hoops and deadlines. They leverage a hybrid of both delay (can’t immediately get your discount) and tangible obstacle to encourage you to buy but not follow through on their discount that induced your purchase.
From the delayers point of view, it’s tactical delight; While no material concession is being given and technically (most times), no material breach is being made in terms of contract, a material edge is being gained.
The passage of time, when leveraged, can be extremely beneficial – so beneficial it can make all the difference in getting what the delayer really wants.