Law 22: Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power

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When you are weaker, never fight for honour’s sake; choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover, time to torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane. Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you — surrender first. By turning the other cheek you infuriate and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power.

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Keys To Power

  • What gets us into trouble in the realm of power is often our own overreaction to the moves of our enemies and rivals. That overreaction causes problems we would have avoided if we had been more reasonable.
  • The next time someone pushes you, try this: do not resist or fight back, but yield. This often neutralizes their behaviour.
  • By yielding, you control the situation, because your surrender is part of a larger plan to lull them into believing they have defeated you.
  • This allows you time and space to plot the countermoves that will bring them down.
  • Surrender also offers a way of mocking your enemies, of turning their power against them.

Reversal

  • The point of surrendering is to prevent martyrdom.
  • While martyrdom can offer power and inspiration, it is often messy and unpredictable. It is still best to avoid it at all costs.

Example

The Melians were prompted to surrender but declined the Athenians’ offer. Despite their alliance, the Spartans did not come to their rescue. Melos was conquered and their population slaughtered & sold into slavery. 

To quote Cardinal de Retz, 

“Weak people never give way when they ought to.” 

Avoid weakness, but when you find yourself in a weak spot, choose to fight another day. You will lose the current battle, but the war is not over.

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.

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