The 48 Laws of Power
Robert Greene
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 13

Law Thirteen: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude


Where a person needs the assistance of others, he should not remind the individual of his past assistance or past actions that he has done before. Doing so may only end up making the person seeking help seem weak (Greene 95). A person, therefore, needs to look for how the other party is also likely to benefit from the assistance he will offer. The benefit that the assisting party will gain needs to be emphasized more than the rest. The person will be more willing to help, owing to the benefits realized. An instance is provided where a powerful family, the Poggios started a conspiracy to remove Castruccio Castracani from power when he was away from Italy. One member of the family, Stefano, quelled down an in-fighting that ensued and return the town to normalcy.

When Castruccio Castracani came back, Stafano approached him and asked him to forgive his family for what it had done (Greene 96). He told the ruler that he had managed to quell the fighting and returned peace to his kingdom. For that reason, the king needed to spare his family.  However, Castracani went ahead and imprisoned and later on executed all the members of the Poggio family, including Stefano. It is evident that Stefano had only appealed to the mercy of the ruler.

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