To attain power, you need to be subtle, cunning, and democratic yet devious. If you manage to seduce, charm, and deceive your opponents, you will attain the ultimate power.

Robert Greene is an American author and public speaker, best known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. His bestseller books include ‘The 48 Laws of Power,’ ‘The Art of Seduction,’ and ‘Mastery.’ Covering a span of more than 3,000 years, “The 48 Laws of Power” includes 48 pieces of wisdom from people who’ve excelled or failed at wielding power.

Greene asserts that whether you like it or not, you’re part of a never-ending game of power. You’re either striving for and wielding power, or you’re a pawn being played by someone more powerful than you. These laws are for those who prefer to be players rather than pawns. To turn you from an amateur into a master player. You can choose to apply or dismiss these rules – but you can’t escape them. So what are the 48 Laws of Power, and how do you use them?

First, always make those above you at family, work or school feel comfortably superior. Go out of your way to make your bosses and seniors look better and feel smarter than anyone else. The better you make your masters appear, the greater the level of power you will attain. Never outshine your seniors. Keep a close eye on your friends — they get envious and will undermine you. You have more to fear from friends than your enemies. Honesty rarely strengthens bonds, so friends frequently hide their true feelings about each other. Enemies tend to be more loyal than friends because they will try harder to prove themselves worthy of your trust. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies.

Always hide your true intentions

If you keep people off-balance and in the dark, they can’t counter your efforts. Lead them astray, and by the time they realize your plans, it will be too late. Learn to conceal your intentions.

Say little and be ambiguous

Leave the meaning for others to interpret. The less you say, the more intimidating and powerful you are. Powerful people know how to impress others by saying less.

So much depends on reputation

Nurture and guard your reputation because reputation is integral to power. Your reputation is the cornerstone of your power. You can use it to intimidate and win, but if it becomes tarnished, you open yourself up to being vulnerable to attack.

Everything is judged by appearance

You must stand out. Make yourself appear larger, more interesting, and more mysterious than the masses. Court attention and create an air of mystery at all costs.

Get others to do your work for you

Use their skill, time, and energy to further your ambitions while taking full credit. You’ll be admired for your efficiency.

Make your opponents come to you

They will have to abandon their plans and strategies in the process. Lure them in, and then attack.

Actions speak louder than words

You can win through your actions, never through arguments. Demonstrate your point rather than arguing. If people agree with you through your actions instead of your words, you are more likely to sway lasting opinions.

The perpetually miserable spread misery like an infection

They’ll drown you in it. By associating with the miserable, you waste your valuable time and drain your potential power. Avoid the miserable.

Learn to keep people dependent on you

Once you have dependents, they are reliant on you, and you can subtly do with them as you wish. The more people rely on you, the more freedom you have. Be wary to never teach those around you enough information that they can start doing things for themselves.

Use honesty and generosity to distract others from your schemes

Even the most suspicious people respond to acts of kindness, leaving them vulnerable to manipulation. A single honest gesture can help cover the traces of dozens of dishonest acts. By being generous, you can disarm even the most suspicious people. Once they are disarmed, you can manipulate them at will. The key to successful deception is distraction. Learning to give before you take is a skilled way of getting what you want. Selective honesty also functions as a means to disarm your opponents.

Self-interest is the greatest motivator for people

If you must ask for help, make sure your request includes a benefit for your ally that you can exaggerate beyond proportion. When your ally sees that there is something in it for them, they are more likely to respond with enthusiasm. They will be glad to help if they’ll get something in return, and you will get what you want without seeming desperate or irritating. Once you master the art of working out what others want and using it to further your own plans, there will be no limits on what you can accomplish.

Knowledge about your rival is essential

By posing as a friend, you can ask indirect questions and gradually get your opponents to reveal their weaknesses and their intentions. Once you know this information, you can better predict how they are going to move next. If you don’t want to pose as a friend, get others to spy for you. However, while you gather information, you open yourself up to vulnerabilities by letting other people do your work for you. It’s always better to spy and pose as a friend yourself. Be friendly, sympathetic, and interested to get people to reveal their deepest thoughts and feelings. When you know your opponents' secrets, you can predict their behaviour and control them.

Crush your enemies completely

If you leave even one ember smouldering, it will eventually ignite. If you manage to remove all of your opponent’s options, then they will have no choice but to bend to your will. By giving them nothing to negotiate with and no room to manoeuvre, you will have crushed them.

Use absence to increase respect and honour

The more you are seen and heard from, the more you cheapen your brand. The more present you are, the more common you appear. Create an air of scarcity around yourself to increase your perceived value. If you currently exist within an established group, you can go underground so that others talk about you and admire you more. Once you return from your absence, it will appear as if you have been resurrected, and people will be relieved to see you again. Simply curious parties that you had been travelling.

Throw others off balance

Unnerve them with random, unpredictable acts. By acting unpredictably, your opponents will tire themselves out by trying to predict and analyze your moves. This means occasionally striking without warning. When you act predictably, you give others power over you. If you act surprisingly, they will feel that they don’t understand you and will be intimidated.

Do not build fortresses to isolate and protect yourself

This cuts you off from the information you need, and when real danger arises you won’t see it coming. It’s always better to mingle amongst people, as you are better protected in a crowd. Because humans are social creatures, power comes with social interaction.

Know who you are dealing with

Do not offend the wrong people. Do a KYC (Know Your Customer)to know everything about a person before you work with them. However, don’t rely on your instincts to get an understanding of a person, and never trust appearances. Watch your target over a long period of time to get a truer picture of their nature.

Don’t commit to any side or cause except yourself

By maintaining your independence, you remain in control and others will vie for your attention. This allows you to play people off against each other. When you hold back from joining a cause, you create a sense of respect because you appear untouchable. You gain a reputation for independence.

Make your intended victims feel as though they are smarter than you

They won’t suspect you of having ulterior motives. Since no one enjoys feeling stupid, play a sucker to catch a sucker – appear dumber than your mark.

When you’re weaker, surrender rather than fight for the sake of honour

By yielding, you gain the upper hand because you lull your opponent into believing they have defeated you, even as you plot their downfall. This confuses your opponents and means they are unlikely to act aggressively against you. You’ll win in the end.

Focus your resources and energies where you’ll have the most impact

Otherwise, you’ll waste limited time and energy. Conserve your energies by focusing them all on a single source of power that will sustain you for a long time to come.

Play the perfect courtier by learning the rules of the society

Follow them to avoid attracting unfavourable attention. This includes appearing like a team player and being careful about criticizing diplomatically.

Re-create yourself

A powerful image stands out, rather than letting others define you. Change your appearance and emotions to suit the occasion. People who seem larger than life attract admiration and power.

You will inevitably make mistakes or tackle unpleasant problems

But keep your hands clean by finding others to do the dirty work, and scapegoats to blame and disguise your involvement. Your reputation depends more on what you conceal than what you reveal. You should always have a convenient scapegoat on hand when needing to conceal your more dubious activities.

Create a cult-like following

Offer people something to believe in and someone to follow. Promise the world but keep it vague; whip up enthusiasm. People will respond to a desperate need for belonging. Followers line your pockets, and your opponents are afraid to rile them. Create an us-versus-them narrative.

When you act, do so boldly

If you make mistakes, correct them with even greater boldness. Boldness brings admiration and power. Few are born bold, it’s a habit that needs to be cultivated and practised. Likewise, timidity is also a learned trait. If you find yourself acting timidly, you must root this out and replace it with acts of boldness instead.

Make detailed plans

Add a clear ending taking into account all possible developments. This means thinking through every possibility that could prevent you from reaching your end goal. Thus, you will be able to accommodate any surprises along the way and secure your future.

Make your accomplishments seem effortless

You’ll inspire awe in others and seem powerful. Conceal all the toil and tricks you used to attain it, as it otherwise arouses too much curiosity in others. Never reveal how you reached your position of power to anyone, or they may use it against you.

There are great advantages to remaining silent

The more mysterious your actions appear, the greater your power appears to be. It will make it seem as if you have an exclusive gift that no one can replicate and that knows no limits.

Too much freedom creates anxiety

When given a choice between two possibilities, people rarely consider all the other potential options that could be on the table. Instead, they blindly choose to believe they have autonomy in their decision-making. By setting up a narrow range of choices, you can guide your opponent to play right into your hands.

Tap into the fantasies of the masses

Conjure up alluring fantasies in contrast to the gloomy realities of life, and people will flock to you. As the truth is often ugly, if you appeal to it, you risk being bombarded with the anger of disenchantment. Instead, by diving into fantasies, people will flock to you as you offer an alternative to the disillusionment of reality.

Nobody is perfect

Everyone has a weakness. Find your opponent’s weakness like an insecurity, an untamed emotion or desire, or sometimes a secret pleasure. This leverage that you can use to your advantage.

Be loyal in your own fashion

Act like a King to be treated like one. How you present yourself to the world will reflect how others see and treat you. Carry yourself with self-respect, confidence, and dignity to make it seem like you were destined for power.

Never seem to be in a rush

Patience is a virtue. Recognize when the time is right, and align yourself with the right side. Be patient and wait for your moment. Bad timing ends careers and ambitions.

Disdain things you cannot have

Ignoring them is the best revenge. The less interest you take in things that irritate you, the more superior you seem. By acknowledging your enemy, you give their existence credibility and, therefore, power.

Use visuals and symbols to underscore your power

As opposed to using words, visual gestures contain an emotive power and immediacy that leave no room for doubt. Where words divide, images unite. What people see makes a greater impression on them than what they hear.

Practice blending in

By consistently going against the grain in public, people will begin to resent you for making them feel inferior. Practice blending in and hiding your true feelings to nurture the common touch. By doing so, you will be left alone to express your true beliefs in a targeted manner. Once a base of power is established, you can then begin to disseminate your beliefs gradually, and they are more likely to be adopted.

Always stay calm

Appear objective because when you get angry, you’ve lost control. But if you can make your enemies angry, you gain an advantage. The more angry they become, the more ridiculous they will appear and this will reduce their power.

Use money and generosity strategically to achieve your goals

Most things that come for free come with a burdensome psychological price task. By paying, you avoid falling into the trap of having to be grateful, guilty, or deceitful. Further, being lavish with your money is a sign of power. Generosity softens up your opponents into being deceived.

Establish your own identity

To succeed as a great leader, find or create your own space to fill. Sharply separate from the past and set your own standards — or you’ll be deemed a failure for not being a clone of your predecessor. You must establish your own name and identity by not following the same course as your predecessors.

Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter

All trouble can usually be traced back to one individual. By rooting out this individual and preventing them from operating, you will stop their influence.

Win hearts and minds

Play on the emotions and weaknesses of others while appealing to their self-interest. By understanding their psychology and their weaknesses, you can play with their emotions and conquer their hearts and minds so that they are loyal to you. By softening them up, you can slowly bend people towards your will without them realizing it.

Seduce people by mirroring their emotions and interests

Create the illusion that you share their values. They’ll be so grateful to be understood that they won’t notice your ulterior motives.

Mirror your opponents

By mirroring your opponents and doing exactly as they do, you humiliate them and cause them to overreact. By making them believe you share their values, they will find it challenging to work out your strategy, as they are blinded by your mirror. You are also able to teach your opponents a lesson by giving them a taste of their own medicine.

Preach the need for change

But never reform too much at once. If you have recently entered a position of power or are an outsider trying to make a claim for it, respect the way people have been living up until this point. Too much change will engender a revolt. To introduce change, make it seem like a gradual and gentle improvement from the past.

Downplay your role in success

While appearing superior to others is dangerous, to appear faultless and without weakness is even more perilous. To forestall or mitigate envy, admit to a flaw or weakness, emphasize the role of luck, or downplay your talents. If you don’t recognize and nip envy in the bud, it will grow and the envious will work insidiously against you.

Don’t let success go to your head

The moment you achieve victory is often when you’re at your most vulnerable. Don’t get ahead of yourself with your overconfidence and push beyond your initial target. This could create more enemies than you are capable of defeating. There can be no substitute for meticulous strategic planning. The moment of victory is dangerous because if you press your luck, you’ll blunder into something you haven’t planned for.

Assume formlessness

Be flexible, fluid, and unpredictable so your opponents can’t get a fix on you and can’t figure out how to respond. The powerful are constantly adapting, and their power comes from the speed at which they can change.