10. Hide a knife behind a smile
“Hide a knife behind a smile” basically means trying to win the trust of your enemy for only then will you able to move against them. “Trust” is the main factor here. Secure your enemy’s trust to secure their doom. It can be a treacherous act, depending on the enemy.
There was this one event when Cao Cao ordered Wang Yun to give him a precious knife with 7 jewels in a scheme to kill Dong Zhou (he was controlling the emperor). Dong Zhou trusted Cao Cao, and so he was able to get close to him. The next day, Cao Cao arrived to see Dong Zhou. After a brief conversation, Zhou stretched himself, facing the rear wall since he was a large and heavy man. Cao Cao, upon seeing this, smiled and thought that this traitor was done for. Holding the precious knife, Cao Cao was ready to kill him. However, Dong Zhou metal reflector (sewn on his clothing) saw Cao with the knife and immediately turned around. He then asked “what are you up to”? In a split second, Cao Cao offered the “precious knife with the 7 jewels”, explaining to Zhou it was meant to be a gift for him. The precious knife saved Cao Cao life since a normal knife would have given the hint that he wanted to assassinate Dong Zhou. Zhou then went to see Cao Cao off, only to know about the assassination after seeing him leaving so suddenly and refusing his order to go back to see him.
That was one classical example of “hide a knife behind a smile” and went as far as having a backup plan in order to get out of the danger if exposed of it. Many fail to create a backup plan even if the strategy is near flawless, because they couldn’t account for the possibility that it would not succeed. Now that is a flaw of overestimation.
If you can win your enemy’s trust, opportunity will arise for you to move against them. Hide that knife until the proper moment is ripe for the striking. Obtain the trust of your enemy, secure the doom of your adversary. That is what it means to “hide a knife behind a smile”.