The 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies – Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ means to “to exercise patience and wear them down”
- September 08, 2020
- Leonie McKeon
The 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies – Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ means to “to exercise patience and wear them down”.
To function successfully in the Greater China Region, and therefore maximise your business success it is crucial to know how to recognise and respond effectively to the 36 Chinese Strategies. Knowledge of the Chinese negotiating culture, which means how the 36 Chinese Strategies are used, is your greatest asset.
One of the 36 Chinese Strategies used is Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ 以逸待劳 which means “to exercise patience and wear them down.”
Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ 以逸待劳 is likely to be applied on you when you visit your Chinese counterparts prior to 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 returning to your offices. 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 exact 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 organised involving too much alcohol, leaving you exhausted because you have told them when you are leaving.
What to do when Strategy Four – ‘Wait leisurely for an exhausted enemy’ 以逸待劳 is applied on you
When you meet your Chinese counterparts to conduct a negotiation, they will more than likely ask you about your departure time. Even though you will almost certainly have a return ticket with a fixed departure day and time, be vague in your reply to this seemly innocuous question. Strategy Four is a classic Chinese negotiation strategy. The most effective way to respond to this probe for crucial information is to be imprecise when asked about your departure day and time.
The best response would be to indicate that you have yet to confirm your departure date and time. Persist with this as your response, and the Chinese hosts will understand that you will not tell them when you are leaving. It will not be regarded as rude to not answer absolutely truthfully. It will be perceived as part of the way the game of negotiation is played.
Take your time answering these sorts of probing questions and put some thought into thinking about the strategy that is likely to lay behind the question. It is not necessary for you to answer with complete accuracy. In these situations, imprecision is the correct and safest response.
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’, ‘Lure the Tiger – Negotiating in confronting circumstances’, ‘Bewilder the Dragon – Negotiating amongst confusion’ and ‘Endure the Tiger – Negotiating to gain ground’. These books contain practical examples of the 36 Chinese Strategies, which are known to be the essence of Chinese business practices. The books are a great read for people who want to understand how to confidently conduct business with Chinese people, and who are interested in learning strategies to be better negotiators in any environment.
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