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Law 39: Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish

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Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. You must always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage. Put your enemies off-balance: find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings.

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Keys To Power

  • Anger is not power, but a sign of helplessness. People may temporarily be cowed by your tantrums, but in the end they lose respect for you. They also realize they can easily undermine a person with so little self-control.
  • The answer is not to repress our anger or emotional responses. It is to change our perspective — that nothing in the social and power realm is personal.
  • Anger cuts off our options, and the powerful cannot thrive without options.
  • Once you have trained yourself not to take matters personally, you can play with the emotional responses of other people.
  • In the face of a hot-headed enemy, an excellent response is no response. Nothing is as infuriating as a man who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs.


  • When playing with people’s emotions you have to be careful. Study the enemy beforehand: some fish are best left at the bottom of the pond.
  • There are also times where a well-timed burst of anger can do you good, but your anger must be manufactured and under your control. Then you can determine exactly how and on whom it will fall.


This is the good old – lay a trap with bait and wait. Monkey see, monkey do. Mice desire cheese so much, they won’t even see the obvious construction around it. When you know your enemies and their weaknesses you know what they react to and you use this knowledge against them. Create a false alarm. They’ll make a run to save what they hold so dearly and weaken themselves by exposing their flank. That’s where you hit them. That’s certainly where they will hit you if you fall for it. Keep yourself from being reactive. All that rage, blinding emotions, fear, desire. It makes you predictable and it makes you weak. Don’t be impulsive.

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