36. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

圍師必闕窮宼勿迫

Sun Tzu

When you have an enemy army surrounded, you should leave a way for them to retreat or escape. This is because if the enemy is desperate, they may become more dangerous and difficult to defeat. By allowing them an outlet, you can avoid a potentially costly and bloody battle. Instead, the enemy may choose to retreat and save their forces, rather than risking everything in a hopeless fight.

When you have a competitor in a difficult situation, leave an opportunity for them. Do not pressure them too hard.

When a competitor is in a difficult situation, it can be tempting to try to take advantage of their weakness and press them hard in order to gain an advantage. However, this approach can often be risky and short-sighted. By pushing a desperate foe too hard, you may end up causing them to become more dangerous and unpredictable, leading to a costly and bloody competition.

Instead, it may be better to consider leaving an opening for the competitor to retreat or find an alternative solution. This can allow them to save face and potentially even become an ally in the future. Alternatively, you could use the opportunity to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution, rather than forcing the issue and risking a negative outcome.

For example, if you have a competitor who is struggling financially, you could offer them a loan or investment to help them through their difficult time. This could potentially benefit both parties, as it would allow the competitor to remain in the market and continue to compete, while also providing you with an opportunity to gain a share of their business or even merge with them.

Overall, when dealing with a competitor in a difficult situation, it is important to carefully consider your options and avoid pushing them too hard. By providing an opportunity for them to retreat or find an alternative solution, you may be able to avoid a costly and damaging competition, and potentially even create a win-win situation for both parties.