What Are the 48 Laws of Power? The Complete List

Power is an integral part of our societies and lives. No one likes being powerless, yet we don’t take well to power-hungry people due to our modern ideologies of fairness, equity etc. It’s important to realize that power is amoral—it’s neither good nor evil. You can choose how to use power once you have it, […]

What Are the 48 Laws of Power? The Complete List

Power is an integral part of our societies and lives. No one likes being powerless, yet we don’t take well to power-hungry people due to our modern ideologies of fairness, equity etc. It’s important to realize that power is amoral—it’s neither good nor evil. You can choose how to use power once you have it, but it’d be foolish to dismiss power as bad or unimportant. 

Read Summary: The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power is a self help book by American author Robert Greene. This book is a guide to understanding and applying timeless principles for achieving success and influence. These laws encompass strategies for navigating social dynamics, dealing with challenges and making most of the opportunities. 


Law 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. 

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.

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

Be wary of friends – they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove.

In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions. 

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. 

If you keep off the balance,  they can’t counter your efforts. 

Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary.

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less you are in control. 

Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish. 

Law 5: So Much Depends On Reputation—Guard It With Your Life.

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win. Make your reputation unassailable. 

When you have a solid reputation, you can undermine your opponent’s efforts with ridicule.  

Law 6: Court Attention At All Cost. 

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. 

Play against people’s expectations and welcome negative attention. 

Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit.

Use your wisdom, knowledge, and the legwork of other people to further your own cause.  In the end, your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered.

Don’t waste time and energy, when you can simply wait for the right moment, then take others’ lunch.

Law 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.             

Law 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.

The 48 Laws of Power

Robert Greene Business 1998
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Law 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.

Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You.

To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. Cultivate an irreplaceable talent or skill. 

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity to Disarm Your Victim.

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Win people’s hearts and you can set up your scheme without being noticed.

Law 13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy or Gratitude. 

Understand the person you are dealing with, and not confuse your needs with theirs.

Law 14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy.

Suppress oneself in the conversation, to make others talk endlessly about themselves and inadvertently reveal their intentions and plans.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally. 

All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. Annihilate your enemy. Do not show leniency.

Must Read: 30 Best The 48 Laws of Power Quotes

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Honor and Respect. 

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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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. 

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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. 

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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.

Law 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. 

Law 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.

Law 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. 


These 48 laws are meant to help us to understand and navigate power dynamics, not to manipulate or deceive others. So use these 48 Laws in a better way to grow your life.

Reavnth Goud

Reavnth Goud

Reavnth Goud is a Content writer who loves to write on Self-Improvement and nonfictional books. He enjoys more in Solitude And walking in nature.

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