Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance -Sun Tzu
This quote can mean so much it’s hard to really extrapolate the wisdom on first encounter.
First, consider the battle of Cannae where Hannibal handed am embarrassing defeat to the Romans. By drawing the Romans too deep into the enemy lines he leveraged their rush to victory by causing them to overextend themselves. In moments it became apparent that what seemed like victory was actually defeat. But the Roman commanders in the rear, eager for victory, pushed 100% of their energy into a seemingly broken enemy. We see this tactic used in many philosophies and even martial artist’s who study how to leverage an enemies momentum to throw them off balance.
Also consider how many times you encounter someone who brings you negativity and openly or subtly attacks you as a person. It’s natural to respond to any of these attacks but you have to wonder sometimes if it’s really worth it? Would you stop walking down the street to exchange insults with a stray dog? Probably not, because now you are investing valuable resources into something completely fruitless. Another saying which goes “walk softly but carry a big stick” is similar in the sense that it means to let things move right past you. If you need to strike, then strike hard but don’t waste time matching wits among people who can be easily overstepped with minimal effort.
It can hurt your pride but ultimately your rational thought process will give you an upper hand while you opponents, drunk with the chance possibility of victory, will stumble headfirst into their own undoing.