The Art of War

    I often think about how different frameworks of thinking and approaches would apply to other subjects like communication and connection. One of the frameworks of thinking that has been interesting to me is the "Art of War" (The Art of War by Sun Tzu - Chapter 1: Laying Plans, n.d.) The "Ts`ao Kung" was translated as deliberations or preparations for the use by the general for his temple (para. 1.) I've been thinking this was relatable to the mindset of someone who is attentive and who seeks to be effective in all aspects of life. 

    In summary, while the "Art of War" was not written as a guide to effective communication, many of its principles can be adapted for this purpose. The wisdom in the text lies in its emphasis on adaptability, understanding, and strategic planning—all essential elements in any form of effective communication.

    The "Art of War" is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu. While the primary focus of the book is on military strategy, many of its principles have been adapted for various other fields, including business, sports, and communication. Here are some of the principles from the "Art of War" that can be applied to effective communication:

Know Yourself and Know Your Audience

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

    In the context of communication, understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, and communication style is crucial. Likewise, understanding the needs, expectations, and preferences of your audience enables you to tailor your message more effectively.

Choose the Right Time and Place

"In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak."

    Effective communication is also about timing and context. Choosing the right moment to convey your message, and the appropriate medium through which to do so can greatly influence how your message is received.

Be Clear and Direct

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."

    In communication, being clear and straightforward often wins the day. The simpler you can make your point, the easier it will be for others to understand. This doesn't mean dumbing down complex ideas but rather making them accessible.

Adapt and Be Flexible

"Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows."

    In both war and communication, the situation is often fluid and unpredictable. Being rigid can lead to failure. Instead, adapt your communication style and message to suit the changing dynamics of the conversation.

Foster Unity and Shared Purpose

"There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare."

    In communication, particularly within organizations or teams, it’s essential to foster a sense of shared purpose. This makes your communication more compelling and helps to align everyone’s efforts.

Avoid Confrontation When Possible

"The greatest victory is that which requires no battle."

    Sometimes, opting for diplomacy and dialogue can be much more effective than taking a confrontational approach. Open and respectful communication can often resolve issues before they escalate into conflicts.

Use Subtlety and Indirect Methods When Necessary

"All warfare is based on deception."

    While honesty is generally the best policy in communication, there are times when being too direct can backfire. In such cases, using indirect methods to get your point across can be more effective.

Plan Strategically

"Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

    Good communication is often the result of careful planning. Know your objectives, anticipate potential responses, and have a clear strategy in place for achieving your communication goals.


The Art of War by Sun Tzu - Chapter 1: Laying Plans. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2023 from


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