2. Help your opponent save face.
In a cycle of escalating conflict, each side is tempted to force the other side to lose face, humiliate them in front of domestic and international audiences and, eventually, back down. The thing is – it hardly ever works out like that in practice. Both sides in a conflict still have politics, and intransigency or provocation (real or perceived) by an adversary usually only emboldens the hawks and their zero-sum mindset in any country. Thomas Schelling made the essential point that it may often benefit conflicting parties – who are attempting to compel changes in each other’s behavior through military pressure – to only vaguely communicate their demands in public. By shrouding their key demands in ambiguity, and communicating them privately (or even tacitly), leaders are better able to comply with demands without losing face in public. An excellent example is the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis,when a (then-secret) U.S.-Soviet missile swap deal had the U.S. pull missiles out of Turkey to allow the Soviets to withdraw gracefully from Cuba. In Asia, where the concept of face is particularly important, it is doubly important that Chinese and Japanese leaders not back each other into a corner by threatening one another’s political survival.