Art Of War ... Strategies in Negotiations

"Murder with a borrowed knife" is strategy No 3 and when it is applied on you it will mean a Chinese negotiator of lower authority will be the one asking you difficult questions or will have difficult issues directed to them...

... while the leader is “preserving their strength”.


BLOGGER: Leonie McKeon is based in Australia, is an expert in Chinese Negotiation Strategies, a Keynote Speaker and an Author giving a unique perspective to the 36 Chinese Strategies in business from 'The Art of War'.  Click here to find out more.


A way of understanding how Strategy Three works is to imagine you are in a chess match. The king is the most important piece on the chessboard. Victory comes when you can place your opponent’s king in checkmate. Yet of all the chess pieces it is the king that moves the least.

To locate the most powerful person in a Chinese group, look for the person who says the least and has minimal interaction with the opposing side, just like the king on the chessboard.

What do you do when Strategy Three "Murder with a borrowed knife" is applied on you?

Introduce your group to the Chinese group in such a way as to demonstrate a clear hierarchy. Now this may not be how you normally operate.

A Western negotiating team is likely to be composed of people who hold a similar level of authority.

Structuring your negotiating team in a hierarchical manner for the purpose of achieving your goals with your Chinese counterparts will give the Chinese group the opportunity to expose the hierarchical structure of their group.

By matching their structure you will make this disclosure easier, and you will be more certain of the relative status of each member of their group.

The benefit of using a hierarchical structure, where everyone has a specific task or role, is that it will save your team a lot of energy when negotiating in China.

Negotiating through a different organisational structure to your Chinese counterparts, particularly when in you are in their country will be exhausting, and may not be understood by them.

If you operate in an egalitarian structure where all of your team participate relatively equally, it is likely you will all, including the leader of your team, exhaust yourselves.


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