The Nature of People from Mastering the Art of War

Knowing People

An excerpt from Mastering the Art of War.  Composed by two prominent statesmen-generals of classical China, this book develops the strategies of Sun Tzu's classic, The Art of War, into a complete handbook of organization and leadership. The great leaders of ancient China who were trained in Sun Tzu's principles understood how war is waged successfully, both materially and mentally, and how victory and defeat follow clear social, psychological, and environmental laws. 

Nothing is harder to see into than people’s natures. Though good and bad are different, their conditions and appearances are not always uniform. There are some people who are nice enough but steal. Some people are outwardly respectful while inwardly making fools of everyone. Some people are brave on the outside yet cowardly on the inside. Some people do their best but are not loyal.

Hard though it be to know people, there are ways.

First is to question them concerning right and wrong, to observe their ideas.

Second is to exhaust all their arguments, to see how they change.
Third is to consult with them about strategy, to see how perceptive they are.

Fourth is to announce that there is trouble, to see how brave they are.

Fifth is to get them drunk, to observe their nature.

Sixth is to present them with the prospect of gain, to see how modest they are.

Seventh is to give them a task to do within a specific time, to see how trustworthy they are.

Translations and Books Related to The Art of War