The 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies – Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ means “to shift the focus from one place by drawing attention to another place”
- January 12, 2021
- Leonie McKeon
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 Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West ’ 声东击西 which means “to shift the focus from one place by drawing attention to another place”.
When in a negotiation with a Chinese businessperson and you find yourself being distracted from the main point, then you know Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ 声东击西 is in action. This distraction or diversion is a strategy to cause you to lose the focus of your original intention. Once you have lost this focus the person who has used this strategy on you has the upper hand.
Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ 声东击西 is likely to be applied on you when you are attempting to discuss lowering the price of the product you are purchasing from your Chinese supplier. Your Chinese supplier may surprise you by readily agreeing to your proposed lower price. This ease of achieving your negotiation goal is likely to create some satisfaction in you and make you feel you have achieved the goal of the meeting.
However, when Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ 声东击西 is applied, surprise can occur when you least expect it. It may be that part of the deal for your Chinese supplier to accept this low-price request is for you to compromise on other things, such as the specifications or the quality of materials. This scenario then places you in a position where if you decide you will accept the lower price, you will need to agree to change the design of your product or use cheaper materials to save costs. It then becomes impossible to save costs if you want to keep the original materials and design of your product.
What to do when Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ 声东击西 is applied on you
Prior to meeting with your Chinese supplier to discuss the price of the product it is important you have considered all avenues. You need to carefully plan your response, so you achieve what you originally went into the meeting for. Before the meeting, think through all the possible diversions your Chinese supplier may use when applying Strategy Six – ‘Make a noise in the East and attack in the West’ 声东击西, and decide what you can accept, what you cannot accept, and what you can trade or change. In this situation, a slight design change to your product may be acceptable, and your product may be able to uphold its high standard even though you agree to use materials of a slightly lesser quality. The most important thing is not to over-compromise, as this will be detrimental to your relationship with your Chinese supplier, because you are likely to feel dissatisfied with the end product. If you cannot compromise on anything, it is important to continually keep returning to your original reason for the meeting and make sure the discussion does not get taken in another direction.
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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