Seduction – persuading a person to yield to your advances – isn’t used only in the pursuit of a love interest.
Influencing others is how we get jobs and promotions, win negotiations, sell products, and gain notoriety.
In “The Art of Seduction,” popular author Robert Greene explores the ruthless tactics of some of history’s greatest seducers, from Cleopatra to Casanova.
We’ve summarized Greene’s 24 rules of seduction below.
1. Choose the right victim.
Your target should be someone “for whom you can fill a void,” Greene says. Don’t try to get the most out of those who are too eager to please you, because they are usually looking to get something in return; instead, find those who give subtle hints, like shyness in your presence, that they are open to your influence.
2. Create a false sense of security – approach indirectly.
If you want to initiate a relationship with someone who would be of value to you, you risk forcing them to raise their guard if you approach them and immediately ask for something. Before making a proposal, reach out to them via a third party, or develop a neutral or friendly relationship before making it about business.
3. Send mixed signals.
Once you’ve got someone hooked, give yourself an air of mystery to keep that person’s interest. Don’t reveal too much about your background or your intentions.
4. Appear to be an object of desire.
Don’t make a fool of yourself, but don’t be humble when you’re trying to win someone over. Show off your most important connections and successes.
5. Create a need – stir anxiety and discontent.
People cannot be seduced if they’re content. Sell yourself by illustrating ways in which the other party is lacking in some respect and then reveal how you can make up for that deficiency.
6. Master the art of insinuation.
If you’re too straightforward with people you’re trying to influence, you may scare them away or even turn them against you. The best way to get people to work in your favor, Greene says, is by subtly dropping hints over time without revealing your true intentions. That way you can make your target think he or she is acting on his or her own initiative.
7. Enter their spirit.
If you’re trying to change people’s minds, first play by their rules. Begin by becoming a mirror, and they will open up to you.
8. Create temptation.
Determine what your target’s weakness is, and play to it. Find an ideal that this person is trying to realize “and hint that you can lead them to it,” Greene writes.
9. Keep them in suspense.
The moment people think they know what to expect from you is when your hold over them is broken. Keep their interest in you with the occasional surprise.
10. Use the power of words.
If you are giving a presentation, for example, goad the audience onto your side by telling them what they want to hear. Make your argument convincing by making it enjoyable.
11. Pay attention to detail.
Entice your target by making painstaking decisions look effortless.
12. Poeticise your presence.
You will not win people over if you are a nagging constant in their lives. Associate yourself with enjoyable experiences so that your target misses you when you’re gone.
13. Disarm through strategic weakness and vulnerability.
Rather than overpower your target, set aside your ego and communicate how the other side is in a dominant position, even if it isn’t exactly true.
14. Confuse desire and reality – the perfect illusion.
“Remember: people want to believe in the extraordinary,” Greene writes. Make whatever you’re trying to sell sound dramatic yet rooted in reality.
15. Isolate the victim.
People are most vulnerable when they are shut off from everything around them. Make others feel like they are the only person who matters.
16. Prove yourself.
If your target begins to become insecure and pulls back from you, demonstrate your value by going out of your way to help him or her in some way.
17. Effect a regression.
Your targets will have had similar relationships that worked well for them. Figure out what they liked most about these previous experiences and do things to evoke memories of them.
18. Stir up the transgressive and taboo.
Even the most clean-cut people have a curiosity of the forbidden. You do not need to be doing anything wrong to make the other side feel as if they are working in a nebulous area – that can mean something as simple as hinting that a deal you are offering is so great that it is unprecedented and needs to be kept secret.
19. Use spiritual lures.
You run the risk of cheapening your words if they all lead to a singular goal, whether that be getting a job or selling a product. Supplement them with moral ideals that make your aim seem more important than it is.
20. Mix pleasure with pain.
Avoid being overly polite with your target, which can have the unintended consequence of making you seem insincere and insecure. Mix complimentary language with blunt, straightforward insight.
21. Give them space.
When the other side is on your side but has become used to you, re-create interest by taking a step back and having them chase you.
22. Use physical lures.
Keep your target focused on you by making yourself as attractive as possible, dressing nicely, smiling, and speaking with confidence.
23. Master the art of the bold move.
When your target has demonstrated that he or she is definitely interested in you, make a final offensive move, stating your intended goal. End with a natural, bold finish, rather than awkwardly or timidly avoiding what you really want, Greene says.
24. Beware of the aftereffects.
Once you have succeeded in your seduction, employ variations of the above tactics to certain degrees to keep the other side from taking you for granted and making you disposable.