Law 13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude: Unlocking the Power of Persuasion

Randy Quill

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Welcome back to our blog series on “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. In this chapter breakdown, we delve into Law 13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude. This law highlights the importance of understanding human nature and utilizing strategic tactics when seeking assistance from others. Join us as we explore the principles and examples that will empower you to master the art of persuasion.

Law 13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude:
Asking for help can be a delicate matter, but by appealing to others’ self-interest, you increase your chances of receiving assistance. Here are the key principles to keep in mind when applying this law:

  1. Understand Human Nature:
    Recognize that people are primarily motivated by self-interest. When seeking help, frame your request in a way that shows how it benefits the other person, appealing to their desires, ambitions, or personal gain.
  2. Highlight Mutual Benefits:
    Emphasize how helping you will create a mutually beneficial situation. By demonstrating that both parties stand to gain, you make it difficult for others to refuse your request.
  3. Show Confidence and Competence:
    Present yourself as capable and reliable. People are more likely to assist those they perceive as competent. Demonstrate your expertise or past successes to instill confidence in their decision to support you.
  4. Offer Reciprocity:
    Create a sense of obligation by offering to reciprocate in the future. Assure the person that their assistance will not go unnoticed or unappreciated, increasing their willingness to lend a hand.
  5. Appeal to Self-Interest, Not Mercy or Gratitude:
    Avoid appealing to pity, mercy, or gratitude when asking for help. Appealing to someone’s self-interest allows them to feel in control and makes them more likely to respond positively.

Examples from History:
Throughout history, individuals who understood the power of appealing to self-interest have achieved remarkable success. Here are a few notable examples:

  1. Henry Ford:
    When Henry Ford sought financial backing to develop the Model T automobile, he appealed to investors’ self-interest. He highlighted the potential profits they could earn by joining him in revolutionizing the automobile industry, and this approach helped him secure the necessary funds.
  2. Warren Buffett:
    Warren Buffett, the renowned investor, successfully employs Law 13 by appealing to people’s self-interest. He carefully selects investment opportunities that align with the interests of his shareholders, ensuring that both parties benefit from his decisions.
  3. Negotiators:
    Skilled negotiators understand the importance of appealing to self-interest. They present proposals that demonstrate how both sides can achieve their objectives, fostering cooperation and increasing the likelihood of reaching agreements.

Law 13 – When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude, highlights the power of persuasion by understanding human nature. By framing your requests in a way that appeals to others’ self-interest, emphasizing mutual benefits, and showcasing confidence and competence, you increase your chances of receiving assistance. Remember to avoid relying on mercy or gratitude, instead focusing on the self-interest of those you seek help from. Stay tuned for our next blog post as we explore Law 14 – Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy.

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