Law 8: Make Other People Come To You — Use Bait If Necessary

The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series


“When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains — then attack. You hold the cards.”

I’m going to begin law 8 with a quote by Otto von Bismarck, one of the greatest leaders and politicians that ever existed.

Remembering that the idea of this law focuses on making others come to you.

Keys To Power

“How many times has this scenario played itself out in history: An aggressive leader initiates a series of bold moves that begin bringing him power. Slowly, however, his power reaches a peak, and soon everything turns against him. His numerous enemies band together; trying to maintain his power, he exhausts himself going in this direction and that, and inevitably he collapses.”

What Greene point’s out here is incredibly astute:

“The aggressive person is rarely in full control. He cannot see more than a couple of moves ahead, cannot see the consequences of this bold move or that one. Because he is constantly being forced to react to the moves of his ever-growing host of enemies, and to the unforeseen consequences of his own rash actions, his aggressive energy is turned against him.”

In my experience and personal study I have noticed that masculinity is often defined and classed with ‘aggressiveness’. When you ask our culture to describe the characteristics of young men within our society, the word ‘aggressive’ often appear’s with negative connotation. However behind most stereotypes is some element of truth. Though aggressiveness is needed at times, untactful methods of ‘uncontrolled aggressiveness’ is often used in the pursuit of achievement. What Greene is explaining in the above quote is how that aggressive energy can be turned against you if you’re not careful.

“In the realm of power, you must ask yourself, what is the point of chasing here and there, trying to solve problems and defeat my enemies, if I never feel in control? Why am I always having to react to events instead of directing them? The answer is simple: Your idea of power is wrong. You have mistaken aggressive action for effective action. And most often the most effective action is to stay back, keep calm, and let others be frustrated by the traps you lay for them, playing for long-term power rather than quick victory.”

Let me repeat a portion of this quote for emphasis:

“You have mistaken aggressive action for effective action”.

Do not become misguided — they are NOT the same thing. Aggressive action does not mean it’s effective. It does not mean it’s efficient. It does not mean, it will work. Just because your aggressive emotions and actions give you the feeling you’re in control, does not make it true in reality. Usually this is self-constructed illusion that gives us a false sense of control and security.

“And most often the most effective action is to stay back, keep calm, and let others be frustrated by the traps you lay for them, playing for long-term power rather than quick victory.”

This requires patience.

“Remember: The essence of power is the ability to keep the initiative, to get others to react to your moves, to keep your opponent and those around you on the defensive. When you make other people come to you, you suddenly become the one controlling the situation. And the one who has control has power.”

“Two things must happen to place you in this position: You yourself must learn to master your emotions, and never to be influenced by anger; meanwhile, however, you must play on people’s natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited. In the long run, the ability to make others come to you is a weapon far more powerful than any tool of aggression.”

The first thing that come’s to mind as I read and write that is, women. The game of power is ever present in relationships, dating and the male — female connection. In my observations and experiences male’s in our society are expected by the majority to make the ‘first move’. Whether that be to start a conversation, ask someone out on a date or make the first sexual advancement. If you were born around the 1980’s or earlier you understand this better than most.

Of course this cultural expectation has shifted over the last decade through the 21st Century as our society has matured. Regardless, more often than not, unless you are a guy who has something of great value that the majority of other’s do not have, you will most likely need to take the initiative and action.

What do you offer that’s different or better from everyone else?

Therefore, you automatically loose a degree of control and power by being the one to make the move first. Although some may believe you also gain a degree of control by going on the offence, which I would also agree with. Each scenario provides positives/negatives depending on your perceptive.

The main point here is to be aware of the power and control dynamics that you may loose or gain in the process of taking initiative action or not. I do not believe this is a ‘ignorance is bliss’ type scenario. The more you know about human behaviour and the power dynamics of human relationships the more effectively you can maneuver around the chaos and stay responsive, instead of reactive. Remembering that this law is ‘making other people come to you’ let’s flip the scenario and imagine like you are trying to put yourself in the best possible position to get someone to approach you. Greene echoes a statement to this dilemma.

“You yourself must learn to master your emotions, and never to be influenced by anger; meanwhile, however, you must play on people’s natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited. In the long run, the ability to make others come to you is a weapon far more powerful than any tool of aggression.”

This quote doesn’t pertain exactly to potential romantic relationships because more often than not, getting a man or woman to react angrily in the attempt to court them is a method most don’t understand how to finesse. I see this idea applying more to the realm of entrepreneurship, business and politics.

I would even extend the quote to “never to be influenced by anger” to, “never be influenced by self-destructive emotions such as jealousy, resentment and envy”. These emotions often drive many to reckless action and mistakes. I will be the first to admit, those self-destructive emotion’s are something I have previously battled with quite often in the past. Additionally, Greene sais “you must play on people’s natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited”. I would tweak that to be more specific, “you must play on people’s natural tendencies of superficiality, mystery, wonder and curiosity”.

What does this mean?


I believe the majority of human’s are wired to observe, analyse and subsequently judge off first appearance’s. I believe we go through subconscious questioning and answering such as ‘do I think this person is attractive?’, ‘do I like this person’s demeanor and mannerisms?’ I think we’re asking and answering question’s like this to ourselves nearly every time we look and meet someone. If you understand how you appear to other’s than you can effectively change for the better to improve the likelihood of positive encounters.

Mystery, Curiosity & Curiosity

Both these characteristics can peak’s anybodies interest no matter the gender. They are allusive qualities for us all. I believe you can use those to your advantage through implementing law 3 and 4: ‘Concealing Your Intentions’ and ‘Always Saying Less Than Necessary’. Executing those two law’s may create a mysterious aura around your persona through the process of not revealing too much information about yourself — you create intrigue.

From a more tactical perspective, Greene notes:

“One added benefit of making the opponent come to you, is that it forces him to operate in your territory. Being on hostile ground will make him nervous and often he will rush his actions and make mistakes. For negotiations or meetings, it is always wise to lure others into your territory, or the territory of your choice. You have your bearings, while they see nothing familiar and are subtly placed on the defensive.”

A great example of this is pick pocketing,

The key to picking a pocket is knowing which pocket contains the wallet. Experienced pickpockets often execute their trade in train stations and other places where there is a clearly marked signs reading ‘BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS’. A passersby seeing the sign invariably feels for their wallet to make sure it is still there. For the watching pickpockets, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Pickpockets have even been known to place their own BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS signs to ensure their success.

Pickpockets have used what people believe is a safety mechanism to their advantage by lulling people into a false sense of security. That is the illusion Greene was talking about it.

The person who makes others come to him appears powerful, and demands respect. Filippo Brunelleschi, the great Renaissance artist and architect, was a great practitioner of the art of making others come to him as a sign of his power.

Brunelleschi was repairing the the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence. The city hired a second man, Lorenzo Ghiberti to work with him. Brunelleschi was not happy with this, he knew Ghiberti would do none of the work but get half the credit.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the main church of Florence, Italy. Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296.

At a critical moment of the construction, then, Brunelleschi suddenly developed a mysterious ‘illness’, so he had to stop the work on the cathedral. Brunelleschi reassured the city officials they’ll do fine with Ghiberti finishing the job. It soon became clear that Ghiberti was useless and the officials came begging to Brunelleschi. He ignored them, insisting that Ghiberti should finish the project, until finally they realized the problem: They fired Ghiberti. By some miracle, Brunelleschi recovered in days.

“He did not have to throw a tantrum or make a fool of himself; he simply practiced the art of “making others come to you.” If on one occasion you make it a point of dignity that others must come to you and you succeed, they will continue to do so even after you stop trying.”

A perfect example of such an intelligent, respectful and dignified way to go about getting your way. All he had to do was tactfully show the truth that Ghiberti had no skills, and he did it all without insulting a single person.


“Although it is generally the wiser policy to make others exhaust themselves chasing you, there are opposite cases where striking suddenly and aggressively at the enemy so demoralizes him that his energies sink. Instead of making others come to you, you go to them, force the issue, take the lead. Fast attack can be an awesome weapon, for it forces the other person to react without the time to think or plan.”

“With no time to think, people make errors of judgment, and are thrown on the defensive. This tactic is the obverse of waiting and baiting, but it serves the same function: You make your enemy respond on your terms.”

“Men like Cesare Borgia and Napoleon used the element of speed to intimidate and control. A rapid and unforeseen move is terrifying and demoralizing. You must choose your tactics depending on the situation. If you have time on your side, and know that you and your enemies are at least at equal strength, then deplete their strength by making them come to you. If time is against you — your enemies are weaker, and waiting will only give them the chance to recover — give them no such chance. Strike quickly and they have nowhere to go. As the boxer Joe Louis put it, “He can run, but he can’t hide.”

Time is against us all. Strike quickly. Play tactfully.

Originally Posted

Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour.

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