Home » Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies

Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies

In the image: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician and a former officer of the KGB who has served as President of Russia since 2012, previously being in the office from 1999 until 2008. He was also Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.

Be wary of friends — they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

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Keys To Power

In the image: Goku and Vegeta – enemies turned friends
  • It is natural to want to employ your friends when you find yourself in times of need. The world is a harsh place, and your friends soften the harshness.
  • The problem is you often do not know your friends as well as you imagine. Friends often agree on things in order to avoid an argument. They cover up their unpleasant qualities so as to not offend each other. They laugh extra hard at each other’s jokes.
  • Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels.
  • When you decide to hire a friend, you gradually discover the qualities he/she has kept hidden.
  • The receipt of a favor can become oppressive — it means you have been chosen because you are a friend, not because you are deserving. There is almost a touch of condescension in the act of hiring a friend that afflicts them. The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, the less gratitude you receive.
  • If you never expect gratitude from a friend, you will be pleasantly surprised when they do prove grateful.
  • The problem with using or hiring friends is that it will inevitably limit your power. The friend is rarely the one who is most able to help you; and in the end, skill and competence are far more important than friendly feelings.
  • Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.
  • Your enemies are an untapped gold mine that you must learn to exploit.
  • Lincoln said: “You destroy an enemy when you make a friend of him.”
  • Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert.
  • A sharply defined enemy is a far stronger argument for your side than all the words you could possibly put together. (Read In-group, out-group)
  • The man of power welcomes conflict, using enemies to enhance his reputation as a surefooted fighter who can be relied upon in times of uncertainty.


  • There are times when a friend can be used to greater effect than an enemy.
  • A man of power often has dirty work that has to be done, but for the sake of appearances it is generally preferable to have other people do it for him; friends often do this the best, since their affection for him makes them willing to take chances.
  • If your plans go awry for some reason, you can use a friend as a convenient scapegoat.


In the image: Michael III of the Byzantine Empire

Michael III of the Byzantine Empire was saved from death by Basilius, who Michael, in turn, favored with gifts and prestige. Basilius, lusting for more power, murdered Michael out of greed. Instead of showing gratitude. He was insatiable. Trust from a distance. People are selfish and pursue their own interests. Former opponents make more loyal and stronger friends.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible