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Moral Critique of Law #4: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on January 24, 2014

I read the book The 48 Laws of Power out of a curiosity and a hunger for something greater for myself. What I found was a book that could be seen as ruthless and manipulative in it's principles. I have decided to write a series of critiques of each of the laws. I will discuss the good and the bad of the law as well as a key that I've found to upholding the law without losing your morality.

Now, I will discuss Law #4:

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 in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish."

-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The Good

If you have ever been in a situation where you "stuck your foot in your mouth", then you intuitively know the good of this law. Often times when we are nervous, we develop a case of "verbal diarrhea". The sad part is that this often happens when we have nothing of import to say. We often try to dazzle people with our words, our thoughts, our knowledge. However, most people don't care. They care more about themselves and what the have to do. You may think you are being of benefit to others by going on and on about a topic you are interested in, but in fact you are being quite selfish.

The fact is that you are more likely to get into trouble for what you said than what you haven't said. That is why this law is good. It keeps you out of hot water. It helps you to remain in good if not neutral standing.

The Bad

One could take this law too far and become taciturn and rude. Can you imagine asking someone, "what do you think of this?" and they respond with, "Nothing." Sure, that is observing the law, but it is also an example of being rude and disengaged. Ignoring people and not being responsive to their questions or needs can have the opposite effect of what you intend. It can lead to ill feelings towards you.

The Key

Don't confuse this law with the idea that you should not explain yourself...ever. It is good to be clear about things, but try to be as clear as possible with as few words as possible.

Say your piece and walk away. Don't waste time explaining. Most people will come to their own conclusions no matter how much or how little you say. If they don't understand they will ask. Like I said before, you're more likely to get into trouble by what you said than what you didn't say.

Have you read The 48 Laws of Power? What did you think of Law #4?

You can probably get this book on for less than $15 or bid on it on eBay, but read it with a compassionate heart and watch the Laws of Power work magic in your business, relationship and life! Then, join the conversation in the comment box below!


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