BLOG / The 48 Laws of Power | Summary + Best Quotes

The 48 Laws of Power | Summary + Best Quotes


There’s something incredibly appealing about the idea of having power. Being in control, gaining respect, and having people fear you. It’s an intoxicating mix.

But as anyone who has ever wielded power knows, it can be a double-edged sword, no matter their industry. On the one hand, people can use it for good. On the other hand, they can use it for evil.

And often, the line between the two can be very blurry. Some managers feel comfortably superior once they gain power, while others have only so much energy for the role. So how do you ensure you’re using your power as a business leader for good? How do you avoid abusing it or crossing the line into tyranny?

The answer may lie in Robert Greene’s book, “The 48 Laws of Power.” While these laws may seem harsh or amoral at times, they offer a unique insight into the nature of power.

These aren’t just rules of power, they’re laws, and this post gives a summary of the 48 laws of power list. It also examines some of the best quotes related to these laws and the lessons you can learn from them. So let’s dive in!

1. Never Outshine the Master

This law is all about knowing your place. Always try to hide your talent in the presence of your superiors. If you try to show you’re smarter, your master will feel insecure.

One quote that goes well with this law is, “When you put yourself in front of the world and show off your talents, you naturally provoke all kinds of resentment.” So be humble and even ask your superiors for help.

2. Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies

Friends are likely to be envious and betray you. The best thing is to hire your enemy, as they will try to prove they are trustworthy.

3. Conceal Your Intentions

Always lead people astray when it comes to your intentions. Ensure they don’t realize your plans too soon. They may react to your plans and thwart them.

4. Always Say Less Than Necessary

When you speak, always try to say as little as possible. The more you speak, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

5. So Much Depends on Reputation—Guard It With Your Life

According to Robert Greene, “reputation is the cornerstone of power.” So make it impenetrable. You should also try to damage the reputations of your enemies.

6. Court Attention at All Costs

Make sure you’re always in the spotlight. The more attention you can draw to yourself, the more power you will have.

7. Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit

Delegate tasks to others and let them do the work for you. Use their knowledge and wisdom to your advantage. Ultimately, people will forget those who worked for you but will always remember you.

8. Make Other People Come to You—Use Bait if Necessary

Always make your opponents come to you. Ensure your bait is sweet enough to entice them to stick around. Once they’re in your grasp, you can manipulate them however you want.

9. Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

Actions speak louder than words. So, focus on winning through your actions rather than trying to win an argument.

10. Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

Avoid surrounding yourself with those who are unhappy and unlucky. Their negative energy will only bring you down.

11. Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Keep people dependent on you, and they will never try to cross you. Never let them learn how to depend on themselves.

12. Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Perform one honest gesture to cover your dishonest acts. If you’re generous, you will disarm those suspicious of your actions. 

As Robert Greene says, “the essence of deception is distraction.” Distract people through an honest act so you can do something without raising eyebrows.

13. When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need help, ensure your request includes how the helper will benefit. People are more likely to respond well if they know they will benefit.

14. Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Pretend to be friends with someone to get close to them and learn their secrets. Then use that information against them.

15. Crush Your Enemy Totally

When you have the chance, destroy your enemies completely. Show them no mercy, and they’ll be less likely to try to cross you in the future.

16. Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

People will respect and honor you more if you’re not always around. They’ll start to miss you, and your absence will make them appreciate you more.

17. Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Keep people in suspense; they’ll never know what to expect from you. They’ll be in a state of constant fear, which will make them more pliable.

18. Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself— Isolation is Dangerous

Isolating yourself from the world will deny you access to valuable information. As a result, you will be vulnerable to enemy attacks.

19. Know Who You’re Dealing With— Don’t Offend the Wrong Person

You should be careful when choosing your opponents. Some people are not worth the trouble.

20. Do Not Commit to Anyone

The only person you should commit to is yourself. Independence will make you look untouchable, and others will respect you.

21. Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker— Appear Dumber Than Your Mark

No one likes to appear stupid. So make people think they can outsmart you. They will never suspect you can make an ulterior move.

22. Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

Always surrender when you’re the weak one. This will give you more time to plot the best revenge and overcome your opponent.

23. Concentrate Your Forces

Don’t let your energy and efforts go to waste. Concentrate all your resources on one power source at a time.

24. Play the Perfect Courtier

Flatter those above you and subjugate those below. Appear to be everything they want, and they’ll never see your true intentions.

25. Re-Create Yourself

Never be comfortable with the role that society assigns you. Do you dream of being among the best sales readers? Keep on reinventing your game to win people over.

“Playing with appearances and mastering arts of deception are among the aesthetic pleasures of life.” This Robert Greene quote from the 48 Laws of Power perfectly sums up why you should keep re-creating yourself as a leader.

26. Keep Your Hands Clean

Don’t get your hands dirty with the nitty-gritty details of power. Let others or scapegoats do the work for you. This way, you can distance yourself from any blame.

27. Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-Like Following

People want to believe in something. Use this to your advantage and create a following of people that believe in you. They will be willing to do anything for you.

28. Enter Action with Boldness

People admire the bold and hate the timid. Consequently, never do something half-heartedly. People will sense your doubt, and your reputation will suffer.

29. Plan All the Way to the End

You need to think long-term if you want to maintain power. Consider all the possible outcomes of your actions and plan accordingly.

30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Don’t let people see how much work you put into something. Make it look like it came naturally to you. This will make you appear more talented than you are.

31. Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal

Don’t give people a choice. Control the options and make them think they’re playing with the cards you dealt them. They will believe they made the decision when, in reality, you did.

32. Play Into People’s Fantasies

People need to feel special and unique. Play into this by making them feel like they’re the only ones that understand you. They will be more likely to follow your lead.

33. Discover Each Person’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has something they care deeply about. Find out what it is and use it against them. They will be so preoccupied with this that they won’t be able to focus on anything else.

34. Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act like a King to Be Treated Like One

You must act like a leader for people to treat you like one. People will follow your lead if they believe you’re an influential figure.

35. Master the Art of Timing

The timing of your actions is just as important as the actions themselves. Learn to read the situation and act accordingly. This way, you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Gives You Power

Don’t consume yourself with something you can’t have. You’ll appear more powerful if you act like you don’t care.

37. Create Compelling Spectacles

A spectacle will draw people in. If you can create an event that’s grandiose and over-the-top, it will enthrall people. As a result, you’ll be able to control their attention and get them to do what you want.

38. Think as You Like But Behave Like Others

You can think in whatever way you want. But you need to behave like everyone else if you want to maintain power. People will believe you’re just like them, and you’ll be able to control them more easily.

39. Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

Create chaos to take advantage of the opportunity it provides. People will focus on the problem at hand. They won’t see what you’re really up to.

40. Despise the Free Lunch

Don’t accept things that people give to you for free. People will think they have power over you if you do. You won’t be able to exert your authority as easily.

41. Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes

Don’t try to fill the shoes of someone more powerful than you. You will never be able to live up to their standards, and people will see you as an imposter. It’s better to create your own path to power.

42. Strike the Shepherd, and the Sheep will Scatter

People will only follow a leader if they believe that the leader is strong. If you can take out the leader, the rest of the group will fall apart. You’ll be able to exert your power better.

43. Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

You need to win over people if you want them to follow you. This way, you’ll be able to control their emotions and thoughts.

44. Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

If you can reflect on the negative qualities of someone else, they will become infuriated. As a result, you can take away their power.

45. Preach the Need for Change but Never Reform Too Much at Once

People are resistant to change. If you try to reform too much at once, they will rebel against you. Instead, preach the need for change and make minor reforms over time.

46. Never Appear Too Perfect

If you seem too perfect, people will think you’re trying to control them. They’ll be less likely to follow your lead. It’s better to show your flaws and let people see that you’re just like them.

47. Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop

If you overstep your bounds, people will think you’re trying to take too much power. They’ll rebel against you. So, stop once you’ve achieved your goal.

48. Assume Formlessness

Formless things are harder to grasp and control. People will have a harder time controlling you if you can become formless. You’ll exert your power more easily.

Leverage the Power of Spinify Alongside These Laws

As a sales or business leader, you should master the 48 laws of power. These laws will help you to be more effective in your role. You will understand the value of prudence, confidence, and self-preservation.

And with Spinify, you can easily impart these values to your sales team. It all starts with coaching your team on the desired values and practices. Then use Spinify to gamify and incentivize these values to motivate your team members to uphold them.

Spinify will display the team’s performance on a leaderboard. The display will, in turn, create healthy competition for better performance.Book a demo today to see how gamification can help your team reach their potential.

Put those insights into practice.

Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.

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