Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to get Help

48 Laws of Power

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Law 11

Judgment

A sincere and honest move can cover dozens of dishonest ones. Even the most suspicious people lose their guard when they get open-hearted gestures of generosity and honesty. If your selective honesty can open a hole in their armor, then you can only get through them at any time, when you give them a timely gift, a Trojan horse, which can serve such a purpose.

Everyone loves kind gestures. It seems everyone has a price after all. With a good gesture of generosity or honesty, even the most brutal and cynical beasts can be tamed. When you try to deceive, it means you want to distract. When you distract the people you want to sway, you get enough time and space to do what they cant observe. Any act of kindness, honesty, or generosity is the best form of distraction, and it can make people lose guard. It turns them into children waiting to lap.

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As known in ancient China, this was called ‘giving before you take’. This kind of giving makes it quite hard for the one receiving to see through it. When you take things from people, you exposing yourself to danger. Also, hardly ask, because when you do, the giver might feel bad about neediness. In life, always learn to give before you take. This softens the ground, creates a distraction, and prepares you for a future request. Your giving can be a kind favor, a generous act, or even a gift.

Selective honesty is best applied on the first encounter with people. We all are creatures of habit, and the first impressions last long. At the start of a relationship, if some thinks you are honest, then it would take a lot of effort to make them think otherwise. Also, just a single act of honesty may not be enough. What we need is a reputation for honesty, a continuous act of doing good. Once we can establish our reputation, just like the first impression, it can hardly be erased.

Honesty is a good way to make people like us. Also, selfless acts, noble gestures are good. Only a few people can resist a gift, even from the worst enemy, and that’s how people easily get through us. When we collect gifts, we become children and lose our guards. While we think people often give us gifts with no intentions, we hardly pay attention to the Machiavellian element of gifts, whereby there are ulterior motives behind the gifts. A gift is a perfect avenue to hide a deceptive move. The Trojan Horse is a beautiful gift that is irresistible by the receiver, where guile is hidden. Once the walls open, it starts wreaking havoc.

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With selective kindness, you can break down even the strongest enemies. When you aim for the heart, it bars the enemy from fighting back. According to Han-fei-tzu, ‘when you are about to take, you should give’. Be quite wary of the gifts you collect from people. While some have good intentions, some are embedded with nails, spikes, bitterness. Always return good gestures. It makes the giver also wary, and tend to know that you understand his game.

In another case, when you are generally known for deceit, there may not be any amount of generosity or honesty or kindness that can erase such memory. People become more sensitive and careful of you. Once people see you as deceitful, acting honest suddenly calls for suspicion. So if you are currently dishonest, it is time to stop.

The lessons  Law 1  Law 2  Law 3  Law 4  Law 5  Law 6  Law 7  Law 8  Law 9  Law 10

Law 11

credit: Robert Greene

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