Here are some of my favorite quotes from 48 Laws of Power. This is an excellent book if you want to improve your social skills or your success. The lessons within the book will teach you how to master various aspects of power and live a more fulfilling life.

The 48 Laws of Power summarizes the universal principles that guide human behavior. Whether that’s in their interactions or work-related scenarios, it contains all sorts of guidelines on how to get what you need from others. This book is not a manual that teaches people how to break the law or hurt others. It is a book about gaining strength to protect oneself from others who might seek to do you harm.

These quotes from 48 Laws of Power are practical advice you can incorporate into your life even if you haven’t read the book.

Hand-picked Quotes from 48 Laws of Power

What You Must Know About Power

“Power is a social game. To learn and master it, you must develop the ability to study and understand people.”

“The most important of these skills, and power’s crucial foundation, is the ability to master your emotions.”

Anger is the most destructive of emotional responses.”

“Love and affection are also potentially destructive, in that they blind you to the often self-serving interests of those whom you least suspect of playing a power game.”

“For the future, the motto is, “No days unalert.” Nothing should catch you by surprise because you are constantly imagining problems before they arise.”

“Deception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral.”

“If deception is the most potent weapon in your arsenal, then patience in all things is your crucial shield. Patience will protect you from making moronic blunders. Like mastering your emotions, patience is a skill—it does not come naturally.”

Never Outshine the Master

“All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people.”

“It is a deadly but common misperception to believe that by displaying and vaunting your gifts and talents, you are winning the master’s affection.”

“If your ideas are more creative than your master’s, ascribe them to him, in as public a manner as possible. Make it clear that your advice is merely an echo of his advice.”

“If your superior is a falling star, there is nothing to fear from outshining him.”

Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies

“You have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them”

“The problem is that you often do not know your friends as well as you imagine. Friends often agree on things in order to avoid an argument.”

“Your enemies, on the other hand, are an untapped gold mine that you must learn to exploit.”

“A person who has something to prove will move mountains for you.”

“Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert.”

Conceal Your Intentions

“Everything in seduction, however, depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them directly in words. Instead you must throw your targets off the scent.”

“Hide your intentions not by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive, and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals—just not your real ones. You will kill three birds with one stone: You appear friendly, open, and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases.”

“Another psychological weakness is the tendency to mistake appearances for reality—the feeling that if someone seems to belong to your group, their belonging must be real. This habit makes the seamless blend a very effective front. The trick is simple: You simply blend in with those around you. The better you blend, the less suspicious you become.”

Always say less than necessary

“A person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.”

“Your silence will make other people uncomfortable. Humans are machines of interpretation and explanation; they have to know what you are thinking. When you carefully control what you reveal, they cannot pierce your intentions or your meaning.”

“Your short answers and silences will put them on the defensive, and they will jump in, nervously filling the silence with all kinds of comments that will reveal valuable information about them and their weaknesses. They will leave a meeting with you feeling as if they had been robbed, and they will go home and ponder your every word.”

“I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up.”

“Also, the less you say, the less risk you run of saying something foolish, even dangerous.”

“Learn the lesson: Once the words are out, you cannot take them back. Keep them under control. Be particularly careful with sarcasm.”

“Silence can arouse suspicion and even insecurity, especially in your superiors.”

So much depends on reputation—guard it with your life

“Reputation is the cornerstone of power. “

“Reputation has a power like magic: With one stroke of its wand, it can double your strength. It can also send people scurrying away from you.”

“A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without your having to spend much energy.” (This is one my favorite quotes from 48 Laws of Power)

“Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable.”

“Learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations.”

“Doubt is a powerful weapon: Once you let it out of the bag with insidious rumors, your opponents are in a horrible dilemma. On the one hand they can deny the rumors, even prove that you have slandered them. But a layer of suspicion will remain: Why are they defending themselves so desperately? Maybe the rumor has some truth.”

“If done correctly, the sowing of rumors can so infuriate and unsettle your rivals that in defending themselves they will make numerous mistakes. This is the perfect weapon for those who have no reputation of their own to work from.”

“A humorous front can make you out as a harmless entertainer while poking holes in the reputation of your rival.”

“Make your reputation simple and base it on one sterling quality. This single quality—efficiency, say, or seductiveness—becomes a kind of calling card that announces your presence and places others under a spell.”

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. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.”

“To create a crowd you have to do something different and odd. Any kind of curiosity will serve the purpose, for crowds are magnetically attracted by the unusual and inexplicable.”

“The worst fate in the world for a man who yearns fame, glory, and, of course, power is to be ignored.”

“Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you. Court controversy, even scandal.”

“Be ostentatious and be seen…. What is not seen is as though it did not exist…”

“If you find yourself trapped, cornered, and on the defensive in some situation, try a simple experiment: Do something that cannot be easily explained or interpreted. Choose a simple action, but carry it out in a way that unsettles your opponent, a way with many possible interpretations, making your intentions obscure.”

“Never appear overly greedy for attention, then, for it signals insecurity, and insecurity drives power away. Understand that there are times when it is not in your interest to be the center of attention.”

Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit

“You must secure the credit for yourself and keep others from stealing it away, or from piggybacking on your hard work.”

“Do not be naive: At this very moment, while you are slaving away on some project, there are vultures circling above trying to figure out a way to survive.”

“Learn to get others to do the work for you while you take the credit, and you appear to be of godlike strength and power. If you think it important to do all the work yourself, you will never get far.”

“Find people with the skills and creativity you lack. Either hire them, while putting your own name on top of theirs, or find a way to take their work and make it your own.”

“Learn to use the knowledge of the past and you will look like a genius, even when you are really just a clever borrower” (Another one of my favorites quotes from 48 Laws of Power!)

“Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others’ experience.”

“Be sure you know when letting other people share the credit serves your purpose. It is especially important to not be greedy when you have a master above you.”

“Kissinger played the game expertly: He took credit for the work of those below him while graciously giving credit for his own labors to those above.”

Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary

“In the realm of power, you must ask yourself, what is the point of chasing here and there, trying to solve problems and defeat my enemies, if I never feel in control? Why am I always having to react to events instead of directing them? The answer is simple: Your idea of power is wrong. You have mistaken aggressive action for effective action. And most often the most effective action is to stay back, keep calm, and let others be frustrated by the traps you lay for them, playing for long-term power rather than quick victory.”

“Everything depends on the sweetness of your bait. If your trap is attractive enough, the turbulence of your enemies’ emotions and desires will blind them to reality. The greedier they become, the more they can be led around.”

“Good warriors make others come to them, and do not go to others. This is the principle of emptiness and fullness of others and self. When you induce opponents to come to you, then their force is always empty; as long as you do not go to them, your force is always full. Attacking emptiness with fullness is like throwing stones on eggs.”

Win through your actions, never through argument

“Never argue. In society nothing must be discussed; give only results.”

“In the realm of power you must learn to judge your moves by their long-term effects on other people. The problem in trying to prove a point or gain a victory through argument is that in the end you can never be certain how it affects the people you’re arguing with.”

“Words are a dime a dozen. Everyone knows that in the heat of an argument, we will all say anything to support our cause.”

“The power of demonstrating your idea is that your opponents do not get defensive, and are therefore more open to persuasion.”

“The most powerful persuasion goes beyond action into symbol. The power of a symbol—a flag, a mythic story, a monument to some emotional event—is that everyone understands you without anything being said.”

Infection: avoid the unhappy and unlucky

“In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical. The risk of associating with infectors is that you will waste valuable time and energy trying to free yourself.”

“When you suspect you are in the presence of an infector, don’t argue, don’t try to help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. Flee the infector’s presence or suffer the consequences.”

“The reason is simple—humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions, and even the ways of thinking of those with whom they spend their time.”

“Never associate with those who share your defects—they will reinforce everything that holds you back. Only create associations with positive affinities.”

“If you are gloomy, gravitate to the cheerful. If you are prone to isolation, force yourself to befriend the gregarious.”

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