Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Study Guide for Politicians like Madigan: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene



“If you yearn for power, quickly lay honesty aside, and train yourself in the art of concealing your intentions. Master the art and you will always have the upper hand. Basic to an ability to conceal one’s intentions is a simple truth about human nature: Our first instinct is to always trust appearances. We cannot go around doubting the reality of what we see and hear—constantly imagining that appearances concealed something else would exhaust and terrify us. This fact makes it relatively easy to conceal one’s intentions… A tactic that is often effective in setting up a red herring is to appear to support an idea or cause that is actually contrary to your own sentiments… People easily mistake sincerity for honesty…

“To make your false sincerity an effective weapon in concealing your intentions, espouse a belief in honesty and forthrightness as important social values. Do this as publicly as possible… The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. Honesty is merely another decoy…

“Power is in many ways a game of appearances, and when you say less than necessary, you inevitably appear greater and more powerful than you are. Your silence will make other people uncomfortable…

“Never make it too clear what you are doing or about to do. Do not show all your cards. An air of mystery heightens your presence; it also creates anticipation—everyone will be watching you to see what happens next. Use mystery to beguile…  The essence of deception is distraction. Distracting the people you want to deceive gives you time and space to do something they won’t notice. An act of kindness, generosity, or honesty is often the most powerful form of distraction because it disarms other people’s suspicions. It turns them into children, eagerly lapping up any kind of affectionate gesture…

“Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simple holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery. The people around you will then magnify that aura by constantly trying to interpret you…

“It is all very easy to do—say little about your work, tease and titillate with alluring, even contradictory comments, then stand back and let others try to make sense of it all. Mysterious people put others in a kind of inferior position—that of trying to figure them out… Leaders know that an aura of mystery draws attention to them and creates an intimidating presence…

“If you find yourself… 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. Don’t just be unpredictable… create a scene that cannot be read. There will seem to be no method to your madness…

“Never forget… that formlessness is a strategic pose. It gives you room to create tactical surprises; as your enemies struggle to guess your next move, they reveal their own strategy, putting them at a decided disadvantage. It keeps the initiative on your side, putting your enemies in the position of never acting, constantly reacting…

“The essence of power is the ability to keep the initiative, to get others to react to your moves, to keep your opponent and those around you on the defensive. When you make other people come to you, you suddenly become the one controlling the situation. And the one who has control has power. Two things must happen to place you in this position: You must learn to master your emotions, and never be influenced by anger…

“To make others dependent on you, one route to take is the secret-intelligence tactic. By knowing other people’s secrets, by holding information that they wouldn’t want broadcast, you seal your fate with theirs. You are untouchable…

“Making people wait is a powerful way of forcing time, as long as they do not figure out what you are up to. You control the clock; they linger in limbo—and rapidly come unglued, opening up opportunities for you to strike. The opposite effect is equally powerful: You make your opponents hurry. Start off your dealings with them slowly then suddenly apply pressure, making them feel that everything is happening at once. People who lack the time to think will make mistakes—so set their deadlines for them…

“Nothing is as infuriating as a man who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs. If it will work to your advantage to unsettle people, affect the aristocratic, bored pose, neither mocking nor triumphant but simply indifferent. This will light their fuse. When they embarrass themselves with a temper tantrum, you will have gained several victories, one of these being that in the face of their childishness you have maintained your dignity and composure…”

Greene, Robert. The 48 Laws of Power. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

No comments:

Post a Comment