Home » Law 31: Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal

Law 31: Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal

In the image: Justin Pierre James Trudeau PC MP is a Canadian politician who has served as the 23rd prime minister of Canada since 2015 and has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 2013. Wikipedia

The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favour whichever one they choose. Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma: they are gored whenever they turn.

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Keys To Power

  • When examined closely, the choices we have, in the marketplace, elections, jobs, tend to have noticeable limitations: they are often a matter of a choice simply between A and B, with the rest of the alphabets out of the picture.
  • Yet as long as the faintest mirage of choice flickers on, we rarely focus on the missing options. We “choose” to believe that the game is fair and that we have our freedom.
  • This unwillingness to probe the smallness of our choices stems from the fact that too much freedom creates a kind of anxiety. Unlimited options would paralyze us and cloud our ability to choose.
  • Therefore, setting up a narrow range of choices should always be part of your deceptions.

Forms of “Controlling the Options”

1. Colour the Choices

Propose 3–4 choices of action for each situation, and present them in a way that the one you prefer always seemed the best solution compared to the others.

2. Force the Resister

Push people to “choose” what you want them to do by appearing to advocate the opposite.

3. Alter the Playing Field

The 1860s, John D. Rockefeller set out to create an oil monopoly. Instead of buying the smaller oil companies (who would fight back), he bought the railway companies that transported the oil. When he attempted to take over the company and was met with resistance, he would remind them of their dependence on the rails.

4. The Shrinking Options

Eg. you can raise the price every time a buyer hesitates and another day goes by.

5. Weak Man on the Precipice

This is used for the weak. Work on their emotions, use fear and terror to propel people into action. If you use reason, they will procrastinate.

6. Brothers in Crime

It is often wise to implicate in your deceptions the very person who can do you the most harm if you fail.

7. Horns of a Dilemma

Strike quickly and deny the victim the time to think of an escape. They will be stuck and hurt themselves.


  • Controlling the options has one main purpose — disguise yourself as the agent of power and punishment. The tactic works best for those whose power is fragile and cannot operate too openly without incurring suspicion, resentment, and anger.
  • It is rarely wise to be seen as exerting power directly and forcefully, no matter how strong or secure you are. It is usually more elegant and more effective to give people the illusion of choice.


In the image: Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible let Russia choose between him as their czar or total destruction from its enemies, the Boyars. He made them see that they could only possibly be protected by him. It wasn’t really a choice and the Russians probably had other options that they were unaware of. They begged him to come back to the capitol and lead them. This was what he wanted all along. People like to think they have a choice. 

Present them options that will work for you either way. This is the norm in elections and anything of real importance. Just like Houdini’s performance, it is an illusion.

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