Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ means “to exercise patience and wear them down”

To function successfully in China, and therefore maximise your business success it is crucial to have some understanding of the 36 Chinese Strategies (derived from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’). Most Chinese people know and unconsciously use these strategies to negotiate. They are widely understood and applied in the contemporary business world.

An example of how one of the 36 Chinese Strategies is used is in Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy ‘ 以逸待劳. Strategy Four may be used on you when you visit China to conduct a negotiation. A likely scenario is where your Chinese contact picks you up from the airport and on the way to your hotel asks when you are flying out of China. The Western method of business communication is to be precise, and this often means that your natural response is to tell your contact the day and time of your departure. If you answer in the Western way, you can guarantee that the night before you leave China there will be a late night involving too much alcohol, leaving you exhausted because you have told them when you are leaving China.

When Strategy Four is being applied, you will be entertained and kept awake very late the night before your leave China.  When socialising, Chinese people will often, in the course of one evening, go to a bar, then a restaurant and then to another bar. This will involve lots of getting in and out of cars, going in and out of hotels and restaurants, having more food than you really want to eat, and probably too much alcohol.

In this scenario Western business people often get to the point where they feel it is easier just to give the Chinese side the price they want. Additionally, because the time and place of negotiation is not within their control, and the departure time is fast approaching, many Western business people feel they cannot return home and say to their colleagues  without thinking they will be judged by people who were not there. Consequently they can find themselves overwhelmed or in a state of panic near the end of their trip, and therefore end up accepting a lower price, or higher demands.

 For more information on the 36 Chinese Strategies read ‘Tame the Tiger – Negotiating from a position of power’ , ‘Deceive the Dragon – Negotiating to retain Power’ and ‘Lure the Tiger – Negotiating in confronting circumstances’. These books contain practical examples of ancient Chinese negotiation strategies (the 36 Chinese Strategies), known to be the essence of Chinese business practices. The books are a great read for people who want to improve their overall negotiation skills, as well as becoming better negotiators so they can play the game of negotiation with their Chinese contacts.

Check out my books here, or enquire about my workshops!

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