Robert Greene

48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene List, Book Summary, Notes, and PDF

Last Updated on November 16, 2020

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If you want to understand how the world works and learn the way to earn success, then ‘48 Laws of Power‘ is a must-read. 

The book gathers 3000 years of ancient knowledge and classifies everything the reader must know into 48 sections. You’ll find the teachings of great thinkers like Sun Tzu, Henry Kissinger, and many others. 

Each one of these methods is collected from a real-life story. It’s based on the observation of great men and women who lived before us. It also shows the tragedy that occurred to those who did not adhere to them.

Each story is later explained by the author, Greene, himself. His insights are crucial to comprehend how easily the Laws can backfire.

Following this book’s straightforward rules, you’ll be able to achieve success in ways you never imagined before.

Most of these theories can be used either for good or evil. It all depends on the reader.


Why Should We Read This Book?

1. To attack people: To get power, like others that have read the book and observed the laws.

2. For self-Defense: To protect yourself from manipulative people.

Let’s take a quick glimpse at each one of the 48 laws.

Law 1: Never Transcend Your Superior

Make sure that the people that are above you always feel superior. When you transcend your boss or team leader, they are likely to feel afraid and insecure around you. 

This may lead to them taking their frustrations against you.

 If you want to impress them, make sure not to go beyond the limit, or else your plan might backfire. Instead, make your superiors look brilliant and better than they are. 

It’s important not to follow this rule too strictly, though. If you work under an average leader, you might need to outshine them eventually. This will keep you from wasting away your potential.

If you have larger goals, you can’t be stuck in the same position forever.

Law 2: Do Not Trust Friends Too Much

Greene states that friends can potentially become resentful. When you help someone out merely for the sake of being your friend, that person will dislike you. 

Why does this happen? People want to feel like they earned a reward in life, and they want to be the masters of their universe. If you help them out as a friend, they will think they received handouts from you, and they feel bad for it. The more gifts that you give that person just because they are close to you, the less grateful they will be. 

If you want them to feel grateful, give them some distance. If you’re going to keep the power you have, you must judge people and friends. 

Making friends with old enemies is an excellent way of keeping that power. It’ll make them work harder to get your trust. And they will be more loyal to you.

Law 3: Never Reveal Your Real Intentions

Do not reveal your real intentions to anyone. If people do not know what is in your mind, they cannot defend themselves from your plans. 

Instead, just assume everyone is after you. By the time they discover your real purpose, it’ll already be too late. 

Use decoys to throw people off the real track. It’s also a good idea to pretend to be friendly instead of close up.

Do not appear secretive as this inevitably makes people suspicious. Tell everyone about fake goals and dreams, but not the real idea. 

Always use smokescreens as masks to disguise your real objectives. Your competitors can only focus on one purpose at one time. It is not easy for them to know that what seems to be a harmless person is trying to set them up. 

It is easy to deceive the world, and the world wants to be tricked all the time.

Law 4: Talk Less 

Influential people do not talk more than necessary. You do not learn more by talking more. 

The more you talk, the higher the chances you might say something foolish. 

Let people do the talking instead, and they will show you much about themselves. It is much wiser and safer that way. 

Kissinger told a tale about his boss asking him the text he had redacted was the best he could do. So, Kissinger redrafted the whole thing three times. Each time he was asked if it was the best he could do, and by the third time, he replied that it was.

The boss read the final draft immediately.

A person that cannot control the words he says is not in control of himself. This will keep them from being respected. 

Power cannot come to people that talk more than necessary; the less you talk, the more powerful you seem. 

The lesson to be learned is: The second you say something, those words are out there forever. You cannot take these words back. 

Law 5: Always maintain a good reputation and guard it well

Reputation and power go hand in hand. The status of a person comes before them, and they can be victorious or a loser before even starting the battle. Make sure to have a good reputation and guard it with your life. 

Attack anyone that wants to destroy your reputation before they can make their move. Destroy your foes by undercutting their image. Make sure to be alert on potential threats all the time.

Meanwhile, take down foes by showing holes in their perceived image. After that, stand back and let the public judge them. 

Learn to seed doubt about your opponents. Once the rumors are released, your opponents will find themselves in a predicament. 

It may even grant you extra attention and enhance your reputation more. 

Law 6: Catch Attention at All Costs

What you do not see doesn’t count at all. All that matters is what you have seen and perceived as accurate. 

Do not let yourself be drowned by the crowd. Make sure to stand out all the time. 

Surround yourself with interesting people and create a reputation. It is better to be attacked than to be ignored entirely. 

Right from the start, you must earn a good reputation. A kind of image that makes you different from others. 

Add an air of mystery and aloofness about yourself.

Always remember: Most people are straightforward, so you can read them like a book. 

Yet, make sure to pay attention to their words or reputation as they tend to be predictable. 

By holding back or appearing inconsistent, you will emit an aura of mystery that can be deeply alluring. 

Law 7: Convince someone else to do the hard work and take the credit for it

At the office, delegate work to your subordinates. After it’s done, pass it on to the boss as if it was your work instead.

In a war, send the soldiers ahead to enjoy the spoils of the war after the enemies are dead. Greene states we should exploit the genius of Teslas’ invention to gain fame later on.

Law 8: Get people to want to meet you

When people come to you, you are in control. If these people approach you, let them reveal their schemes, then attack them.

Law 9: Win based on actions, not words

If you win in an argument but don’t back up your words with real action, you will create resentment. This is unlikely to convince anyone.

Law 10: Don’t get affected by misfortune

The emotional state of the people in your life can affect you, either for good or bad. So when you are helping someone out, you will, in the end, bring yourself down. 

Avoid sad or unlucky people and make friends with people that are both fortunate and happy.

Law 11: Make yourself indispensable

Never show your friends how to be happy without you. Instead, make them rely on you. The more people depend on you, the more privileges you will get.

Law 12: Disarm other people with honesty

Be entirely honest towards one person on a single occasion. This will allow you to manipulate them into lowering their guard. A single act of virtue can overcome ten dishonest acts.

Law 13: Get help by making people interested in what they are doing instead of based on gratitude

Don’t force people to do stuff for you as a payback to what they owe you. Instead, emphasize how they’ll benefit from the task at hand.

Law 14: Pretend to be a friend but play as a spy

Learn to ask complicated stuff to know what a person’s weakness is and their ulterior motives. Every occasion is excellent for doing a little spying.

Law 15: Destroy your enemies completely

Not letting your enemy die completely will let them begin plotting for revenge. Destroy them entirely in body and spirit.

Law 16: Raise your value by being unavailable

Doing too many things will decrease one’s worth. When you have already earned yourself a place in a group, disappear for a short while. 

This allows people to talk about you and increase your value. The more available you are, the less appreciated you will be. 

If you are already popular in a particular group, withdraw. This will lead people to miss you and start admiring you. 

This also works if you are in a relationship. If you withdraw too fast, your lover will forget you. Once you connect more deeply, being absent will make them miss you. 

Law 17: Allow some suspense by being unpredictable

If you are unpredictable, you throw people off balance. It also helps you intimidate a lot of people.

Law 18: Don’t isolate yourself for protection

Being isolated might be the safest choice, but that is not true. You miss out on a lot of valuable information and turn you into an easy target for attack. Move around people and make friends and allies. People will help you and protect you when you need help.

Law 19: You must know the people you deal with

To put in place any tactic, you must first understand what the other person is like. 

Some people can be easily deceived, while others will catch up immediately, and seek revenge over and over again.

Make sure you pick the right victim or opponent and plan well ahead before attacking the wrong one.

Law 20: Try to become independent

Greene states that people who keep jumping sides are fools. Do not become one of those people. Do not commit to either side: Side with yourself, instead. 

When you keep your independence, you can play the people around you. Pitch them against one another and turn yourself into a prize when they want to become a friend. Don’t commit to people, but make people commit to you instead. When you hold back, it won’t be seen as anger, but a form of self-respect. You become powerful when you make yourself indifferent and uncontrollable. You are not following the rules of the group, like other people. 

Those who stand back will earn loyal supporters. 

Make sure to not commit to any person and stay above the crowd. You only have a certain amount of energy and time, and every time you help someone, you lose strength and power.

Law 21: Appear dumber than You are

Make your victims feel like you are not as smart as they are. This makes them feel safe around you, and they won’t become suspicious. It’ll lead them to put their guard down.

Law 22: Pretend To Surrender

Never fight when you know you are sure to fail. It gives personal satisfaction by going out on a whole win round. This will decrease your strength. 

Surrender instead if you feel like you might fail. 

Make sure to recover, waiting for the person’s power to reduce and only then attack at full force when the time is right. 

People that are trying to act like big shots are always deceived. 

The next time someone attacks, do not fight back, but yield and bend. If you surrender, you can coil around the enemy and strike that person when the time is right.

Law 23: Concentrate on your efforts and priorities

Make sure to focus on one thing and one thing only. You can gain more from one mine than trying to diversify yet never finish drilling any shaft.

Law 24: Be A Powerful Adviser

Number 24 is an entire list of precepts in a single law.

1. Appear casual: Never look like you are putting in too much effort, your ability should come out.

2. Be cautious about flattery: Do not over-contribute.

3. Try to get noticed: Do not appear like you are trying to get attention, but make sure that you stand out as well. Pay attention to the clothing that you are wearing, and make sure that you stand out. Create a style that makes you different from people.

4. Change the tone you talk to your partner: Try to speak to everyone in an equal manner. If you talk down to people, they will feel offended.

5. Don’t deliver bad news.

6. Do not try to befriend the boss. If he doesn’t want to be friendly, let it be.

7. Be cautious, asking authorities for help. It is irritating to keep rejecting requests. Do not ask favors on behalf of another person, especially a friend.

8. Avoid constantly criticizing people. This will give people the wrong impression. Express humble admiration and look amazed when needed.

9. Observe yourself. Train your mind to see yourself the way the world sees you.

10. Control your emotions: Learn how to control anger and agreement. Fake contentment and learn to act. People with positive emotions attract more people.

Law 25: Create self-identity

Do not accept the image that people create for you. Pick your copy and change it according to yourself. Everyone wants to assign a role for you. If you accept it, that’s the end of your life. Remake yourself into a strong character. Make sure to mold yourself into a better person like clay. You should be aware of your surroundings and become a life’s actor. The next thing is to follow George Sand’s theory of creating their self character. This theory compels attention and stands out in a crowd.

Law 26: Make sure to maintain a clean image

Take care of your reputation; never let people misuse you in scandals. Turn people in scapegoats if needed.

Law 27: Create followers that worship you

Most people want to follow something or believe in it. Become a figure that gives everyone a thing to have hope in, and give them a new faith. 

Do not give them lots of details. Give these people something to follow and make them sacrifice for you.

Law 28: Act 

When you do not know what to do, it is better to make a scene, and these mistakes are corrected as well. No one likes timid people – bold is better. When you are small like David, you need to find a giant to attack. The bigger the target, the more attention you get.

Law 29: Make plans to reach your end goal

The result is all that matters. Make sure to plan ahead with the end goal in mind.

Law 30: Make your wins seem simple

When you do something, make it look effortless. Act like you did not put in much effort, and people will admire you more.

Law 31: Make people think they made a choice all on their own

The best trick is to make people feel that whatever you manipulated them to do was really their own choice. Make sure to give them a few options to pick from, that end up leading to the results that you want. 

Let people know how things will crumble without you and provide them with a choice. Either tell the other person to either choose one or option two. If not, they will suffer. Make sure to highlight the opportunities and propose an action plan for each selection. You should make sure the path you want them to follow seems like the best solution. Force them to choose by doing the opposite of the action plan.

-The shrinking method: How these theories work is to raise the value of the situation. Every time the buyer hesitates and time goes by, the value increases. This is a deployment for buyers to buy immediately if they have got the deal today compared to tomorrow.

-The Weak Man: With weak people, you need to be aggressive. Use fear to make them more. If you reason with them, they will procrastinate.

-Partner in Crime: You lead people into a crime scheme so that there is a bond of blood in both of you.

-Horns of A Dilemma: The authority leads witnesses to decide between two theories around an event. Both events have a loophole. They need to answer the questions of the one that displays the most authority. The motive of this is to attack fast. Do not let the victim know that they can escape. As they wriggle in their problems, they are digging their own grave.

Law 32: Play with people’s desires

People avoid the real thing because it makes them feel bad. Don’t make people feel bad, create a fantasy for them, and they will keep returning to you.

Law 33: Find your enemy’s weak spot

Everyone has a fatal weakness that you can use for your benefit. This could be something that was missing during their childhood. It could also be an emotional need to feel important. Every single one of us has a weak spot. 

When you find that weakness, you can use it to your benefit. Make sure to analyze the target accurately. 

After investigating, then you can hit its weak spot. This is the same in RPG games. Once you find the monster’s soft spot, you can kill it quickly.

Pay attention to indirect signals. To find a helpless child, you must look into the childhood of that person. Find a void and fill the void with emotion. Look for passions that are not controllable. If people can’t control something, you can do it for them instead.

Law 34: Act the way you want people to treat you

Act like you want to be treated in a certain way, and in the end, people will treat you in that way.

Greene states that Columbus probably shouldn’t have led ships to America. Yet, he acted as he could do it, and in the end, he achieved it.

Law 35: Time management mastery

Don’t act like you are in a rush, as it means that you are not in control of your time.

Law 36: If you can’t get it, so be it

Sometimes, you will not be able to meet your goals. By understanding the issue, you will give the problem more attention and credibility. If it is someone, you will provide them with more power by giving them more attention. 

Whenever it happens, let things be. When you cannot get what you want, make sure to move on. 

Don’t let things irritate you. The more they want of the object, the more you chase it, and the worst it eludes you. 

If the desire that is too strong will make you seem weak and pathetic.

Law 37: Create flashy spectacles

Spectacles that are stylish and flashy have a robust and powerful aura. People that are drawn to your glasses get distracted by it and do not notice what you are doing.

Law 38: You can think whatever you want, but behave like everyone else

If you keep going against the flow, people might think that you look down on them, and are merely seeking for attention. 

Then they’ll end up punishing you for making them look stupid. Make sure that you seem unique only around those people that can appreciate your uniqueness. Fit in with when you are with the sheep.

Law 39: Stir up the river to catch the fish

Make the other person angry so that they make mistakes and show their weaknesses

Law 40: Do not accept a free lunch

Everything comes with a price; nothing comes for free. If people give you free food, they want something out of it. Behind a free meal, there is always a trick that comes along with it. 

Make sure to pay for the food and stay away from the trap of a free lunch. Always pay the full price, and allow the money to flow through. 

That allows power to go right back to you. It’s also another sign of strength. 

There is a story in the book that states that a woman was stingy with her money. She felt like giving away money was like giving away power. She then harassed her consultant until he raised the price to several times the full amount. This is because she was so stingy.

Law 41: Do not step into another person’s shoes

What happened in the past always seems better than the present. Nothing can be more deceptive than that. You must know that the past is the past.

Do not follow other people’s footsteps. Instead, build your image and create your path and identity. People will look up at you, and you will become successful and renowned one day.

Law 42: Strike the leader to disperse the sheep

If there is a never-ending source of problems, it can be traced back to a single source – a powerful man. If you let these people move around, these people keep stirring troubles and prompt the crowd to gather. Do not let these people disturb you, strike them real hard once, and the group will dissipate after that. Make sure to deal a final blow.

Law 43: Win the hearts and minds of the public

If you coerce someone, they push back against you. 

Instead, you should seduce them to do your bidding. Once you have managed to captivate them, the person turns into your pawn, and you can use them as you please. Focus on their emotions and play them on what they love and what they are scared of. In time, you will get your goal.

Law 44: Using the mirror effect to disarm people

Mirror your enemy by doing what they are currently doing, and they will not understand what you are actually up to. You also make them angry when they are using a mirror effect. You can cheat them into letting them think both of you have shared values.

Law 45: Try to change, but don’t change too fast.

Everyone knows they need to change, but old habits die hard. Humans dislike change. Too many new variations will cause us to overreact and blow up. If power is unique to you, you need to respect the old methods that you have used and made changes slowly. Think of it as a gentle improvement.

Law 46: Don’t appear as Miss or Mister Perfect

Only deities and goddesses are pure, perfect beings. Performing better than ordinary people is very dangerous. If you seem ideal, it is even worse than appearing better than others. You should display defects once a while to look imperfect.

Greene says it is naive to think that you can have power, and no one will envy you. 

Expect being envied, and work against the expectation instead. To avoid this, you can paint the power to make it look like a load. After that, you can seem relatable by showing the sacrifice you deal with in order to get power. 

If you feel the envy of others, use it to push yourself forward and improve.

Law 47: Don’t push yourself too far. Once you reach your goals, stop

When we achieve our goals, we become overconfident and arrogant. We push past the goals that we aimed for and push further and further until we end up losing everything. 

We also end up making more and more enemies, and one of them will take us down eventually. 

Don’t let success turn you into an arrogant person, rather set an aim for yourself. After attaining it, stop at once, and regroup.

Law 48: Assume vagueness

Never bet on things that are occurring now; things change from time to time. If you are predictable and in the same shape all the time, people attack you. Make sure you learn how to adapt and keep moving ahead. Also, make sure to learn new things along the way. 

Predictable people get killed all the time. Make sure to motivate yourself and disguise yourself. 

Author Biography

Robert Greene produced bestselling books like “48 Laws of Power“, among others.  

He attended the University of Wisconsin and has a degree in classical works. He resides in Los Angeles. 

Greene is highly appreciated in the business world, and his books are recommended no matter what your field of interest is.

Greene offers his readers advice and laws that help them become wiser and improve their lives. 

His work is considered to be one of the best in both the USA and Europe.

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