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Moral Critique of Law #9: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on January 25, 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 #9.

Law #9. Win through your actions, never through argument.

"Any momentary triumph you think you have gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate."

-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The Good

There are many disadvantages to arguing and fighting. It raises your blood pressure, causes resentment and could lead to violence. Therefore, demonstrating your position in a calm and respectful manner is immeasurably more effective. Walking away from an argument can save you a lot of problems. Often times if someone is yelling their point to you in an aggressive manner, remaining calm can calm them down.

Arguing can lead to you offending others and thus ruining any relationship you may have fostered with them. Also, arguing can harden the hearts of those you argue with and lead them not to even hear your point, resulting in the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.

Demonstrations of your point are often more effective. If you can show that you are correct in what you believe by calm demonstration, you will most likely win the person over.

The Bad

Sometimes a demonstration can be done aggressively. Bombarding someone with proof of your point can come across as argumentative as well. If someone believes one thing and you send them books, articles and even Bible verses to prove your point, they may still find reasons to disagree; perhaps siting those sources as biased.

The Key

The key is to discern which situations warrant a demonstration and which ones do not. Sometimes "silence is enough answer for a fool".

If you are having an ideological disagreement with someone (on issues of race, religion or politics), sometimes your own behavior is the only demonstration needed. For instance, if you are trying to prove that your particular demographic is not given to the stereotype that they are cliaming, your arguing is not going to prove any point. Your actions (being respectful) would speak louder than words.

Matters of opinion (that can not be proven by fact) are not worth wasting your breath or actions on. Sometimes, just let those kinds of things go unless you are talking to a friend and you guys can make a friendly sport of arguing. Arguing with a stranger at a basketball game about why your team (or player) is the greatest, is a waste of both of your time.

The only points worth proving are those that can be proven by cold, hard evidence. Even then, they should be proven respectfully so as not to disgrace the other person, because if you disgrace that person, it may harden their heart and cause them to not (want to) see your point. An example of respectfully demonstrating your point is if your co-worker and you are working on a project which requires research and the two of you have a disagreement on the facts. You may choose to say, "Well, seeing it documented this way, but maybe I'm wrong. Would you mind if I check?" That way the person can save face. Gloating once you are proven write will also cause you to harden the person's heart. Try telling the person, "but I can see what would make you think that."

Have you read The 48 Laws of Power? What did you think of Law #9?

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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