We’ve put together a list of the most important laws so you can quickly get started applying the Laws of Power today.
1. Never Outshine The Master (Law 1)
When it comes to getting power, you often need to learn tricks and techniques from someone who has it. These tricks and techniques help you build your own power. But you can’t easily learn these techniques if you offend the person who understands them. This is why Greene himself called this the most important law of power.
Additionally, never outshining the master can help you avoid unnecessary attacks, and can lead you to increasing your power more quickly. Try finding a mentor who has a similar background and has achieved what you want to achieve. Consider working for them.
2. Appeal To People’s Self Interest (Law 13)
In some ways this is the most important law. The ability to persuade is arguably the most important skill in increasing your power. Here is how you apply this law. Stop thinking about what would motivate you to take an action. Instead think about what would motivate the person you are speaking to. What are their most common reasons for acting in the ways they do? We cover the key to persuasion more here, and understanding what people want, here.
3. Guard Your Reputation With Your Life (Law 5)
Reputation is extremely important because it represents what the masses think about you. When someone doesn’t know you personally, they often default to what the public thinks. For example, if everyone sees you as an honest person, people will trust you when you make assertions. Protect this ‘public’ persona by asking for evidence if someone starts saying you act in a negative way.
4. Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew (Law 33)
Conflict can be costly. In some situations it makes the most sense to just walk away. But in others you need to be able to fight back. A thumbscrew is a way to pressure someone into a certain behavior. Thumbscrews can be ‘positive’ and ‘negative.’ See our article on developing hurtful insults as a way of disincentivizing behavior.
5. Enter Action With Boldness (Law 28)
Used in warfare to overwhelm your enemy, focused, fast, and powerful action can get you the results you want in many situations. Aggression can also scare off those who were thinking about attacking you. Think about your goals and then attack with full force when your enemy isn’t expecting it.
6. Learn To Keep People Dependent On You (Law 11)
Keeping people dependent is important for establishing and maintaining control. If you have the ‘keys’ to what someone needs, you can dictate their behavior. We discuss this in more detail here, but understanding how to create control is extremely important to growing your power. See our article on frame control for a very easy to apply ways to control a conversation.
7. Plan All The Way To The End (Law 29)
We compete with people every day for the status we desire. But many of those people are crystal clear on what they want and how they are going to get it. How can you hope to compete if you are just impulsively acting? Write down your main goals in life and then think of specific actions you can take each day that will lead you to those goals. If you don’t take those actions, consider replacing those goals with ones that you actually value.