The “Laws of Power” & Happy Hour

by John on July 27, 2011

One of my favorite books is “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene & Joost Elffers. Not because it’s a how-to manual, but because it condenses some pretty heady material into a neat package that will get you thinking.

The “Laws” are first explained with some historical perspectives then either examples of transgressions or observances of the specific law, keys to power and at the end possible reversals.

There are several that could be viewed from an HR perspective that are very apropos. For instance, Law 5: So much depends on your reputation – guard it with your life. Or Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument. Or Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with – do not offend the wrong person.

There are others that could be viewed as downright evil in an HR or managerial setting. For example, Law 17: Keep others in a suspended state of terror: Calculate an air of unpredictability. Or, Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victims.

This past Friday, I had a rare chance to meet up with a former colleague for a few drinks after work. We hadn’t seen each other in over 5 years, so it was nice to catch up on all the crazy that’s happened to us personally and professionally. We got to talking about this book and how each of us has used some of the laws in the book to basically get shit done in the office.

Not wanting to chase the bonhomie out of the bar, I carefully point blanked my friend with a question. “So which one is your favorite to use?” I asked. They replied and I about fell out of my chair. I too had to fess up to the ones that I’ve used over the years personally and professionally. We laughed, shook our heads at each other and smiled.

So if you haven’t had a chance to finish your summer reading list, I say pick up a used copy of this book, read it quietly and use the lessons you learn in it for good not evil.

After all at the end of the day we’re in HR and we have to get shit done.

(and if you’re wondering the answer is a polite “No” I’m not going to share the answers)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dwane Lay July 28, 2011 at 12:23 am

I have this and “The 33 Strategies of War” (same author) on my shelf. Good reads.

John July 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

That’s a great book as well. I think his whole War/Power/Seduction books are interesting.

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