Do you want to be more powerful in life? If so, you need to read The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This book is a complete guide to acquiring and using power in all areas of your life. It covers everything from business to relationships to self-improvement. We’ll offer tips on how to apply them to your own life. Use this 48 laws of power list to succeed in your life.


48 Laws of Power overview

In 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene provides an insightful and entertaining guide to the power plays that are a part of everyday life. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples, he shows how those in positions of power have used (and sometimes abused) the principles of deception, manipulation, and intimidation to achieve their goals.

While many of the laws may seem amoral, Greene argues that they can be used for good as well as evil. For example, law number two, “Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies,” can be interpreted as a call to be cautious in one’s dealings with others, but it can also be seen as a way to foment competition and distrust.

In either case, the 48 laws offer a thought-provoking look at the games people play in an effort to gain and maintain power.

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The complete 48 Laws of Power list and explanation.

Law 1. Never Outshine the Master

If you want to be successful, it’s important to never outshine the master. In other words, you should always make sure that your boss or superior looks good in comparison to you. This doesn’t mean that you should constantly hold yourself back – rather, you should find a way to shine without making anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable.

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

Robert Greene argues that it is often more beneficial to co-opt enemies. By doing this, they will be more loyal than friends because they will try harder to prove themselves worthy of your trust.

It’s easy to put too much trust in friends and not realize it. We see them every day, we have common interests, and we share ups and downs. So when it comes time to really rely on someone, we often choose a friend without thinking twice. But is that always the best decision?

Enemies, after all, have something to prove. They want to show that they’re better than you and that they can be trusted. Friends, on the other hand, may take your trust for granted.

Law 3. Conceal Your Intentions

Greene believes that if people know what you want, they will be more likely to try to stop you from getting it. Therefore, it is important to keep your goals and plans hidden from others until you are ready to execute them.

This law also applies to your innermost desires and feelings; if you reveal too much about yourself, others will be able to exploit your weaknesses. By concealing your intentions, you maintain an element of control and can surprise your opponents when you finally reveal your hand.

Law 4. Always Say Less Than Necessary

Essentially, this law means that it’s usually better to say less than more. This is because the more you say, the more chances you have of saying something that could be used against you. Additionally, speaking less gives you an aura of mystery and power. People will be more intrigued by someone who doesn’t give away everything about themselves. So, if you’re looking to exercise power in a situation, it’s best to keep your words to a minimum.

Law 5. So Much Depends on the 48 laws of power – Guard It With Your Life

In today’s world, your reputation is everything. What people think of you can determine whether you’re successful or not. If you have a good reputation, people will be more likely to trust and respect you. They’ll be more likely to do business with you, and they’ll be more likely to recommend you to others. On the other hand, if you have a bad reputation, people will be less likely to want to work with you. They may even avoid you altogether. That’s why it’s so important to guard your reputation carefully.

Law 6. Court Attention at All Costs

This law is based on the idea that people are naturally attracted to drama and conflict. By creating a spectacle, you can attract the attention of others and Use it to your advantage.

For example, if you want to promote your business, you might hold a public event or contest. Or if you’re trying to gain the favor of someone in a position of power, you might try to make a grand gesture.

Of course, this law doesn’t just apply to positive situations. If you’re in a situation where you’re being ignored or mistreated, you might create a scene in order to get the attention of those in charge. While this strategy can be effective, it’s also risky. You may alienate others or find yourself in hot water if you’re not careful.

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

Law 7 of the 48 Laws of Power is all about getting others to do the work for you, but taking the credit in the end. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about being smart. After all, why put in all the hard work yourself when you can get others to do it for you? And if you’re going to get the credit anyway, you might as well make sure that everyone knows that it was you who came up with the idea in the first place.

But there is a caveat: you have to be careful not to take too much credit. If you’re perceived as someone who is always looking to take advantage of others, you will quickly lose their trust and respect. So use this law wisely, and only take credit when it is truly deserved.

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

If you want people to come to you, make yourself attractive and irresistible. Use whatever bait is necessary to lure them in, then make sure you deliver on your promises. This doesn’t mean that you should be manipulative or deceitful, but it does mean that you should be strategic in how you present yourself. Keep in mind that people are always looking for opportunities, so give them what they want and they’ll be more likely to come to you.

Law 9. Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

When it comes to gaining power, it is important to remember that actions always speak louder than words. Don’t waste your time trying to convince others by arguing with them or engaging in debates. Instead, focus on your own actions and let them speak for themselves. Others will take notice of what you’re doing and eventually come around to your point of view.

Not only is this a more effective way to gain power, but it also saves a lot of time and energy. So next time you find yourself in a debate, remember Law 9 and focus on your actions instead.

Law 10. Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and the Unlucky

It’s important to surround yourself with positive people who are doing well in life. These people will be a good influence on you and help you to stay focused and motivated. On the other hand, it’s best to avoid people who are unhappy or unlucky. These people will bring you down and make it harder for you to reach your goals. This is known as the law of infection, and it’s something that you should keep in mind if you want to be successful in life.

Law 11. Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

To be in a position of power, it’s important to keep others dependent on you for as long as possible.

One way to achieve this is by controlling the flow of information. If you’re the only one who knows how to do something, or if you have access to information that others don’t, then they will be forced to come to you when they need it.

Another way to keep people dependent on you is by making yourself indispensable. If you’re the only one who can do a certain job, or if you have a unique skill set, then people will have no choice but to rely on you. You can even offer gifts to warm people up to you.

Law 12. Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Robert Greene advocates the use of selective honesty and generosity to “disarm your victim.” He believes that by being honest about some things and generous with others, you can create an aura of trust and goodwill that will make people lower their guard around you. This, in turn, gives you a position of power in which you can take advantage of them. While this may seem like a cynical approach, there is no denying that it can be effective.

Law 13. When Asking for Help, Appeal to the Self-interests of Others, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude

According to the 48 Laws of Power, it is important to appeal to people’s self interest when asking for help, rather than appeal to their mercy or gratitude. This is because people are more likely to help someone who they believe will benefit them in some way, rather than someone who they feel sorry for or to who they feel indebted.

It’s also important to remember that people are more likely to say no to a request for help if they feel like they are being used or taken advantage of.

Related: Use the WIIFM technique to figure out people’s self interest.

Law 14. Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

It is often more useful to feign friendship with someone in order to gain their trust and learn their secrets, rather than being openly hostile. This law is based on the idea that people are more likely to let their guard down around those they consider to be friends, and are thus more likely to reveal information that they would otherwise keep hidden.

By posing as a friend, you can gain access to places and events that would otherwise be closed off to you. So, if you want to gain an edge over your rivals, it may be worth your while to work as a spy.

Law 15. Crush Your Enemy Totally

Robert Greene emphasizes the importance of crushing your enemies completely. He argues that it is not enough to simply defeat them—you must also destroy their reputation and render them powerless. This may seem like a ruthless strategy, but Greene argues that it is necessary in order to protect yourself from future attacks. By eliminating your enemies completely, you remove the threat they pose and send a clear message to other would-be challengers.

Law 16. Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

The basic idea behind this law is that our presence is not always required in order to assert our power. In fact, often times our absence can be more impactful than our presence.

By strategically withdrawing from certain situations, we can increase the respect and honor that others have for us. This law is particularly relevant in the modern world, where constant communication and 24/7 availability have become the norm. By making ourselves less available, we can create an aura of mystery and intimidate those who seek to control us.

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

If you want to keep someone in suspense, cultivate an aura of unpredictability. Let them never be quite sure what you’re going to do next. Every now and then, throw them a curveball just to keep them guessing. This law is particularly effective when combined with Law 3 (Conceal Your Intentions). By keeping people off balance, you make it much harder for them to mount an effective challenge. And if they’re always wondering what you’re going to do next, they’re much less likely to take any action at all. So if you want to stay one step ahead, keep your opponents guessing.

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

One of the laws that Greene discusses is “Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous.” The law is based on the principle that isolating oneself from the world makes one more vulnerable, not safer. Those who build walls around themselves in an attempt to protect themselves from harm only end up cutting themselves off from the sources of power and influence.

In today’s interconnected world, it is more important than ever to have a wide network of contacts and to be open to new ideas. Those who isolate themselves are at risk of becoming irrelevant and powerless.

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

If you want to be successful, it’s important to know who you’re dealing with. You need to be able to read people and figure out what they want. It’s also important to know who not to offend. There are some people who, no matter how small the slight, will never forgive you. It’s not worth it to get on their bad side.

This is why it’s always important to do your homework and learn as much as you can about the people you’re dealing with. Only then will you be able to avoid pushing the wrong buttons.

Law 20. Don’t Commit to Anyone

Greene argues that by aligning yourself with someone else, you give them the power to control you. And while it’s true that forming alliances can help you achieve your goals, it’s important to remember that you can only truly rely on yourself. After all, people are fickle, and even the most loyal friend may eventually betray you. So instead of making promises, you might not be able to keep, simply let others know that you’re open to cooperation – but not commitment.

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

Outsmarting your mark requires that you appear dumber than they are. You must convince them that they are the smartest person in the room, and that you are an easy target. This will make them let their guard down, and they will be more likely to underestimate you. Once you have gained their trust, you can begin to manipulate them and get what you want.

Law 22. Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power

Robert Greene emphasizes the importance of always appearing to be in control. One way to do this is by using the surrender tactic, which involves turning weakness into power. When you seem to be in a weak position, you can actually gain the upper hand by surrendering to the situation. This will make your opponent feel more powerful and in control, while you gain the opportunity to regroup and prepare your counterattack. In order to use this tactic effectively, you must be aware of when you are in a weak position and know how to exploit it.

Law 23. Concentrate Your Forces

The basic idea is that you should never disperse your energy, but instead focus all your efforts on a single, strategic goal. By channeling all your resources into a single area, you can more easily achieve success.

This law is especially relevant in today’s world, where there are so many potential distractions and opportunities. It can be tempting to try to juggle multiple projects at once, but it is often more effective to focus your attention on one thing at a time.

Law 24. Play the Perfect Courtier

Courtiers are the strategists of the powerful, the people who manage to maneuver their way into the inner circle and then skillfully keep themselves there. Courtiers must be both obsequious and skilled, able to read their patron’s moods and desires and then adjust their own behavior accordingly. They must also be adept at playing politics and building alliances and networks that can further their own goals.

In short, courtiers must be masters of flattery, deception, and manipulation. And while this may sound like a recipe for disaster, the truth is that courtiers can be invaluable assets to those in power. After all, sometimes it takes a courtier’s machinations to get things done in a complicated world.

Law 25. Recreate Yourself

It is important to be able to adapt and change with the times. Those who are able to reinvent themselves are often the ones who succeed while others become obsolete.

In other words, you must be willing to change who you are in order to stay relevant. This may mean changing your appearance, your way of thinking, or even your entire lifestyle. Whatever it takes, those who are able to constantly reinvent themselves are usually the ones who come out on top.

Law 26. Keep Your Hands Clean

One of the most important things to remember when trying to maintain power is to keep your hands clean. What this means is that you should avoid getting too close to any dirty or illegal activity. If you’re seen as being connected to something shady, it will reflect badly on you and damage your reputation. It’s better to stay above the fray and let others handle the dirty work.

Law 27. Create a Cult-like Following by Playing on People’s Need to Believe

People have a fundamental need to believe in something larger than themselves. This need can manifest itself in religious faith, political affiliation, or even a dedication to a sports team. Whatever the form, it is evidence of our deep-seated desire for connection and community. And it is this need that cult leaders exploit to create a following of devotees.

Law 27 of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power is all about playing on people’s need to believe. A successful cult leader is someone who can tap into this need and offer their followers a sense of purpose and belonging. They craft a narrative that their followers can believe in, one that provides meaning and direction in their lives.

Law 28. Enter Action With Boldness

In this law, Robert Greene talks about the importance of boldness when it comes to achieving success. He argues that hesitated and half-hearted action will never lead to greatness. Instead, you need to be willing to take risks and go after what you want with everything you’ve got.

This doesn’t mean being reckless or impulsive – you still need to plan and prepare as much as possible. But once you’re ready to take the plunge, you need to have the courage to go all in. Only then will you have a chance of achieving something truly remarkable.

Law 29. Plan All the Way to the End

Greene believes that those who fail to plan are condemned to live in a world of chaos and insecurity. He suggests that one should always have a clear vision for the future and work towards achieving it. One should never rest on their laurels or become complacent. This law is about always being prepared and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. It is about being proactive rather than reactive. Those who follow this law will be able to anticipate the moves of their opponents and be one step ahead at all times.

Related reading: What is microplanning

Law 30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

If you want people to believe that you’re a powerful and successful person, it’s important to make your accomplishments seem effortless. Nobody wants to associate themselves with someone who seems like they’re constantly struggling. Instead, they want to be associated with someone who appears to be in complete control of their life. By making your accomplishments seem effortless, you’ll not only appear more powerful, but you’ll also make it more likely that people will want to help you achieve even more.

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

By giving people only a few options to choose from, you increase the chance that they will choose the option that favors you.

For example, if you are trying to sell a product, you might offer two different options: a lower-priced version with fewer features or a more expensive version with more features. By doing this, you steer the customer towards the option that is most beneficial to you.

In negotiations, this law can also be used to your advantage. By presenting the other side with a limited number of options, you are more likely to get them to agree to terms that are favorable to you.

Law 32. Play Into People’s Fantasies

People are always looking for an escape from their mundane lives, and if you can provide them with that escape, they will be more likely to follow you. This is why so many cult leaders are able to hypnotize their followers: they are offering a chance to escape reality and enter into a world of fantasy where the follower is the center of attention.

Law 33. Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

In his 33rd law, Robert Greene talks about the importance of understanding what motivates people. Specifically, he suggests that it is important to find out what each person’s “thumbscrew” is – in other words, what stresses them out or makes them anxious. Once you know what someone’s thumbscrew is, you can use it to your advantage.

For example, you might use it to make them more compliant or to get them to do what you want. Alternatively, you might use it as a way to get them to reveal useful information. either way, understanding someone’s thumbscrew is a powerful tool that can be used for both good and ill.

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

People in positions of power are often able to command respect and deference not because of their titles or their wealth, but because of their bearing and their demeanor. By acting like a king- confident, decisive, and commanding- you can encourage others to treat you with the same respect and admiration. Of course, it’s important to be aware of the line between confidence and arrogance, but if you can strike the right balance, you’ll be well on your way to being treated like royalty.

Law 35. Master the Art of Timing

One of the key elements of success, according to Greene, is timing. It’s not enough to simply know what you want or when to make your move – you also have to be able to anticipate the actions of others and timing your own actions accordingly.

Those who can master the art of timing will always have an advantage. Here are a few tips from Greene on how to do just that:

1. Pay attention to patterns and trends. By keeping track of what is happening around you, you’ll be better able to predict when people are likely to make their moves.

2. Don’t be afraid to wait. Patience is a virtue in the game of power – often, the best move is the one you don’t make.

3. Be flexible. If something isn’t working out the way you planned, be willing to change course. The ability to adapt on the fly is crucial in any successful power play.

You can start to develop a better sense of timing – an essential skill in achieving your goals and exerting your influence.

Law 36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge

If you can’t have something, it’s best to just ignore it. Trying to get revenge will only backfire. This law is all about protecting your ego. You don’t want to be the person who is forever longing for something they can’t have. It’s a recipe for disaster. If you focus on what you can’t have, you’ll never be satisfied with what you do have. Life is too short to waste time on things that are out of your reach. It’s better to focus on what you can achieve and enjoy the process of reaching your goals.

Law 37. Create Compelling Spectacles

Compelling spectacles fascinate us, drawing us in and holding our attention. We are naturally drawn to things that are visually thrilling, and so a spectacle can be a powerful way to control others. When we are caught up in the moment, we are more likely to let down our guard and be swayed by emotion.

A skilled manipulator will use this to their advantage, creating spectacles that capture our imagination and draw us into their web. From grandiose displays of wealth to shocking acts of violence, those who know how to create a good show can wield a great deal of power.

Law 38. Think as You Like, but Behave Like Others

It’s important to be true to yourself and think for yourself. But when it comes to your behavior, it’s often best to conform to what others are doing. Why is this? Well, humans are social animals. We’re hardwired to follow the lead of others. And when everyone around us is behaving in a certain way, it sends a signal that that’s the correct way to behave. So while it’s important to think independently, you’ll usually be better off if you go along with the crowd.

Law 39. Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

Law 39 of the 48 Laws of Power states that you should “stir up waters to catch fish.” In other words, you should make your enemies angry in order to take advantage of them. This can be done by insulting them, spreading rumors about them, or otherwise provoking them.

The goal is to get them to act impulsively and rashly, without thinking things through. That way, you can take advantage of their emotional state and manipulate them into doing what you want. While this may seem like a dangerous tactic, it can be effective if used sparingly and with care. After all, enemies who are always angry are also enemies who are easy to control.

Law 40. Despise the Free Lunch

Accepting free gifts creates a sense of obligation, and can lead to future favors being expected. Greene suggests that free lunches are often not really free – they come with strings attached. For example, a lunchtime meeting with a potential client may be seen as an opportunity to make a sales pitch. In other words, there is usually an ulterior motive behind free lunches.

Law 41. Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes

When it comes to climbing the ladder of success, it can be tempting to try and follow in the footsteps of someone who has already made it to the top. But as Robert Greene warns in his book 48 Laws of Power, this can be a dangerous strategy. Not only is it difficult to live up to the standards of a great man, but you also risk being compared unfavorably to him.

It’s better to forge your own path and build your own reputation. If you’re lucky enough to work with a great man, learn from him but don’t try to copy him. By carving out your own niche, you’ll be more likely to achieve lasting success.

Law 42. Strike the Shepherd, and the Sheep Will Scatter

If you want to cause chaos and confusion, target the leader or head of a group. Without a strong leader, the group will fall apart. This law can be used for good or for evil – for example, you could use it to take down a corrupt leader, or you could use it to create chaos in an organization. Either way, it’s a powerful law that can have a big impact.

Law 43. Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

To influence someone, you have to first get them to like and trust you. This can be done by finding common ground, listening to them, and being genuinely interested in their lives and experiences. Once you have established a rapport, you can start to subtly influence their opinions and actions. This law is based on the idea that it is easier to get someone to do what you want if they feel positive towards you.

Law 44. Disarm and Infuriate With the Mirror Effect

This law dictates that you should always show your opponent a reflection of their own behavior. By doing this, you will disarm and infuriate them, giving you the upper hand in any situation. The mirror effect is all about pitting someone against themselves.

For example, if your opponent is constantly shifting blame onto others, you can hold up a mirror and show them how they are really the ones to blame. By forcing them to confront their own behavior, you will take away their power and put yourself in control. This law can be difficult to master, but it is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to gain the upper hand in any situation.

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

In this chapter, Greene discusses the importance of being an agent of change but warns against trying to change too much too quickly. He writes that true reformers are rare and that most people only pretend to want change to further their own agendas. As a result, those who genuinely desire change must be careful not to fall prey to false promises or empty rhetoric.

Instead, they should focus on making small changes that will have a lasting impact. Only by slowly and steadily pushing for reform will they be able to create lasting positive change.

Law 46. Never Appear Too Perfect

Law 46 of the 48 Laws of Power dictates that one should never appear too perfect. The reason for this is that it invites envy and resentment from others. By contrast, if we cultivate an appearance of imperfection, we make ourselves more relatable and therefore more likable.

Appearing to be flawed also gives us an element of surprise; when we do display our skills or talents, others are more likely to be impressed. In short, Law 46 reminds us that it pays to be humble.

Law 47. Don’t Go Past the Mark You Aimed For: In Victory, Learn When to Stop

Pushing your luck can lead to a fall from grace just as easily as it can lead to continued success. As Greene puts it, “Victory is like a disease, it can take over your senses and make you euphoric.” This euphoria can blind you to the reality of the situation and cause you to miscalculate.

Once you have won, take a step back and assess the situation. Make sure you are able to consolidate your power before moving on to your next goal. By knowing when to stop, you will be able to avoid overreach and maintain your position of power.

Law 48. Assume Formlessness

This law is about being flexible and adaptable in order to take advantage of any situation. Like water, you should be able to flow around and through any obstacle. This means being able to change your approach when necessary, and being open to new ideas. It also means being willing to experiment, and not getting too attached to any one plan. By remaining formless, you will always be able to find a way to succeed.

Related: Characteristics of successful leaders

Use the 48 laws of power to your advantage

Conclusion paragraph: The 48 laws of power are a great way to understand how to get ahead in any situation. While some of them may have a Machiavellian feel to them, they also present the harsh realities of power and its operation. By knowing these laws and applying them in your life, you can find success no matter what you do.

Who is Robert Greene?

Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters. In addition to having a strong following within the business world and a deep following in Washington, DC, Greene’s books are hailed by everyone from war historians to the biggest musicians in the industry (including Jay-Z and 50 Cent).

Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Additional information

print length

452 pages



listening length

8 hours 40 Minutes

Publications date

September 1, 2000


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