The 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies – Strategy Fifteen– ‘Lure the Tiger Down the Mountain’ means “to entice someone out of their comfort zone”

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 Fifteen‘Lure the Tiger Down the Mountain’ 调虎离山 which means ” to entice someone out of their comfort zone”.

When Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 is applied, the objective of the strategist is to lure the opponent out of their comfort zone and into the strategist’s territory. When the opponent is out of their comfort zone, they do not have access to their usual resources and hence the strategist has the advantage in the negotiation.

Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 is applied in such a way that you do not notice you are being taken away from your location, which is your comfort zone. In order to to develop a solid the relationship with Chinese contacts, many Westerners will often go to the effort of visiting their Chinese contact’s offices that are not in the same location as their own offices. While building this relationship they are likely to find themselves staying in the same hotel, locating a restaurant they frequently eat at, and there may be a shopping mall nearby where they can buy most things. All of this provides you with a sense of familiarity, whilst conducting business with Chinese businesspeople.

Then after several visits the time comes when you need to have important meetings regarding pricing. As your Chinese contact knows you feel comfortable in the city you have been regularly visiting to meet with them, to apply Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 they will try to lure you out of your comfort zone. They may do this by inviting you to another location, perhaps to visit another one of their offices, or to host you to some popular tourist locations, which are away from your familiar location. After accepting this enticing offer,  you can be overwhelmed with all the new information you need to take in about your surroundings, and and put less effort into negotiating the deal.

They are applying Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 by taking you out of your comfort zone, and into an unfamiliar location. The reality is that you will be in an unfamiliar location, which will place you at a disadvantage when you have to discuss prices. Visiting unfamiliar places, requires effort to get comfortable with the new location. When Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 is applied, and you are in an unfamiliar environment, the stress level this unfamiliarity causes, may mean you are more likely to agree on a price that is to their advantage.


What to do when Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山 is applied on you 

When you are offered sightseeing that is in an unfamiliar location, while this may look attractive, this is the application of Strategy Fifteen – ‘Lure the tiger down the mountain’ 调虎离山,which is to lure you out of your comfort zone. In this situation you are the tiger, and you are being lured down the mountain. When tigers move from the mountains onto the plains they are exposed and vulnerable. If you have rarely been to the location you are being invited to, you need to suggest that it is more convenient for you to negotiate in the city you are familiar with.

To avoid being lured to a strange location, you may want to say that you have other meetings in your familiar location, and therefore you would prefer to have the meetings there. Explain to your contacts that you would be delighted to go to the location they have invited you to, and the next time you visit your contact, you will take up their offer. When you are meeting to negotiate, it is always better to avoid being in a new environment. The best scenario is to negotiate in the location where you feel most comfortable.

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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