Overview of Law #8: Make Other People Come to You—Use Bait if Necessary
Make your opponent come to you. When you force others to act, you’re in control. Bait them, then attack. Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary.
Principles of Law 8
What does it mean to make other people come to you, using bait if necessary? Many people achieve power through aggression, but it has a downside. As you continue to use aggression as your main tactic you have to launch attacks in all directions at a growing number of enemies. This becomes tiring.
At this point, you’re no longer in complete control — you’re reacting to your enemies without calculating the consequences, rather than planning several moves ahead.
Power comes from acting effectively, not simply aggressively. Often, it’s more effective to lay traps, then wait for them to work. You win for the long term (the war) rather than the short term (the battle).
Instead of reacting to your opponents, maintain the initiative by making them react to you — this keeps them on the defensive. Put another way, when you make people come to you, you’re in control of the situation.
To make other people come to you, using bait if necessary, you must:
- Control your emotions; don’t act out of anger.
- Take advantage of others’ tendency to react emotionally when you pressure them or bait them.
Making other people come to you is a more powerful tool than aggression. For example, Talleyrand baited Napoleon with the chance to escape his exile on the island of Elba and return to power in France. (More details below.)
Making other people come to you also depletes their energy. In the early 1900s, Japan lured the Russian navy to attack by spreading a rumor that Russia could easily wipe out Japan’s fleet. However, the Russian fleet had to make a long trip around the southern tip of Africa to get there, which was exhausting. Japan spread a second false rumor – that it was launching a counterattack — which meant Russian forces had to be on constant alert, further tiring them. When they finally arrived, Japan crushed them.
By making other people come to you, you also force them to operate on your turf, which makes him nervous and defensive. In negotiations, always require others to come to you, or to a place you choose, to keep them off balance.
If you’re subtle and manipulative about the way you lure others to you, they may feel they’re in control, although they aren’t. The key is the attractiveness of your trap, which roils your opponent’s emotions so he doesn’t see what’s really happening. Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary.
The greedier someone is, the more susceptible they are to your bait. For instance, the robber baron Daniel Drew played on others’ greed to subtly manipulate stock prices. He would stride through his club near Wall Street, heading for the stock exchange. He’d pull out his bandanna and in the process drop a piece of paper bearing a note about a particular stock. When he left, others would grab the paper and buy or sell the stock, pushing the price in the direction Drew wanted.
Putting Law 8 to Work
Here’s an example of how to apply Law 8 of the 48 Laws of Power.
Talleyrand knew the value of Law 8: Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary. In 1814 the powers of Europe banished Napoleon to the island of Elba and celebrated his fallen empire, but they still feared him because they hadn’t sent him far enough away, and they knew he was clever enough to retake power. However, his former minister, Talleyrand, wasn’t concerned — he quietly planned to purposely lure Napoleon back to France, where he could be permanently defeated.
Napoleon fell for the trap. Talleyrand set up a plan that allowed Napoleon to escape the island and return to France. The French people supported him and the government soldiers sent to stop him changed sides. He resumed the throne, but with France bankrupt, the people were miserable and the military was weak. As Talleyrand anticipated, Napoleon didn’t last long — he took the country to war and was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, and exiled to a more distant island from which he couldn’t escape.
Talleyrand had the power of the upper hand because he planned carefully, bided his time, and set a successful trap for Napoleon.
Exceptions to Law 8
Are there any exceptions to 48 Laws of Power Law 8: Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary? Rather than always holding back and letting others chase you, sudden aggression can be effective in specific instances. When you suddenly attack, your opponent has to react quickly, without time to think or mobilize a strong response. He may make mistakes. Further, surprise attacks are frightening and demoralizing.
This is the opposite of holding back and making other people come to you, but it works the same way: You force your opponent to respond to you; you’re in control.
Which tactic you use — waiting/luring or attacking — depends on the circumstances. If you and your enemy are equally strong, luring him to you will help deplete his strength. If your enemy is weak, launching a quick attack is better than giving him time to get stronger.
But generally, follow Law 8: Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of "The 48 Laws of Power" at Shortform. Learn the book's critical concepts in 20 minutes or less.
Here's what you'll find in our full The 48 Laws of Power summary:
- Why you should never outshine your boss
- How to appear like a friend but behave like a spy
- The 6 rules you absolutely must not violate, if you want to be successful