Oct 042010
Fight by Marcello99

Carrying out a successful retreat is tricky as the odds are against you. A well-planned retreat is not the same as defeat or flight. It does not mean leaving the field open to your enemy as you flee for your life. A well-planned retreat is a sign of awareness and prudence. It is a coordinated withdrawal in the face of danger to a place of safety. From here, you can preserve your strength while finding a way to turn things around. But how does one conduct a retreat? Read on to find out.


Being aware of your conditions is crucial to carrying out a successful retreat. You must realize that the odds are against you before you become aware of the need for retreat. Naturally, the earlier you retreat the better. A retreat becomes impossible if you realize too late that you cannot win.

Let us imagine that you get into an argument with your superior at work. Even if you are right and he is wrong, an argument will not win him over to your point of view. In this case, check yourself early and retreat. Firstly, you will avoid offending him. Secondly, you reduce the resistance towards your ideas. Lastly, you might be able to salvage the situation by finding common ground. This is beneficial for everyone involved.

Making a Decision

Firstly, before you retreat, you must determine if it is the best option. To retreat when you should advance leads to missed opportunities. To advance when you should retreat leads to disaster. Secondly, you also have to see if a retreat is possible. There is no point trying to retreat if you cannot do so. This will only worsen matters for you if you fail. Lastly, if you decide to retreat, you cannot allow anything to distract or hinder your withdrawal. There can be no half-hearted attempts. Attachment, indecision or pride at this time will only bring misfortune.

Once you decide that you cannot win your superior over to your point of view, focus on retreating. Do not grow attached to your ideas or making your point. Your superior is not in the right frame of mind to listen to you. He is only concerned with being right about his views. Be decisive and retreat. If you must agree with his views, do so. Once you are safe, you can plan how to win him over to your side.

Making a Safe Retreat

When retreating, your goal is to disrupt your enemy’s ability to stop you. Firstly, you could place obstacles to hinder their progress. Secondly, you could distract or divert their attention elsewhere. Lastly, you should hide your intentions as long as possible to prevent them from catching on. Doing so hinders their pursuit and prevents them from exerting full pressure on you. This will give you time to make a safe retreat.

An argument can only happen when two forces meet and refuse to give way. In your argument with your superior, you could concede that he has valid points. Then, you go on to agree that you see his line of reasoning. By doing so, your superior will feel that he has finally convinced you. There seems to be no more resistance on your part towards his ideas. As such, the argument stops and you can make your getaway. As you cannot get him to see reason at this point, it is better to retreat and buy time to find ways to convince him.


Each situation is unique. But the rules of survival remain the same. Adapt to your conditions and use whatever is at hand to help your retreat. If you have to make a small sacrifice to get away, do so. A sacrifice is better than complete annihilation. But here you have to use your judgment to determine if the sacrifice is worth it. The point is to live to fight another day.

Maybe your superior feels that he has not made his point clearly enough. Or he may feel that you are not fully convinced despite your Oscar-winning performance. Since a further argument will be pointless, you may have to make small concessions to get him off your back for now. Then, you may want to use some excuse to get away. Once you retreat, you will have time to think of a plan to turn things around.

Taking Action

The need for a retreat usually happens when you are in an unfavourable situation. Making a well-planned retreat in such cases is not easy. But it is possible if you are aware of the dangers and determined to do so. Every situation has a path that is in harmony with the times and circumstances. If you can adapt as needed, you will be able to make your retreat and live to fight another day.

What are your thoughts on making a well-planned retreat? Are there any other factors that I have missed out in conducting a retreat? What else should we note?

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  4 Responses to “How to Retreat from an Unfavourable Situation”

  1. “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious. ”
    Sun Tzu

    Unique topic, that’s for sure…

    You say – “It is a coordinated withdrawal in the face of danger to a place of safety.” Brilliant sentence, describes the exact outcome of “Retreat”… People often see the retreat as a weakness, however, a well-planned retreat is a tool that can be used wisely and with important purpose, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Each of the points is described in a great way … The only thing I would add is that the retreat should be practiced, as any skill, we will be better the more times we do it…

    • Hi Marko,

      I was a little hesitant about writing an article on retreat at first, since it is not something that is written about on self-help blogs. But I felt it would be good to do so since retreat is necessary at times.

      You’re perfectly right. Like all things, retreat is a skill that should be practiced so that we will be able to use it well when the situation really calls for it.

      Thanks for your comments! :D

  2. Wow… thank you. Wonderful stuff here. I’ve recently just begun my journey of self-improvement, and self-awareness.

    You, Tina, and the like have helped me tremendously. :)


    • Hi Matt,

      It’s great to know that you have recently begun your journey of self-improvement and awareness. It is definitely a beneficial journey to take where you will experience growth in character. I am glad that Tina and I could help along this important journey of yours! :)

      Thank you for your comments! :)

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