‘10’ Commandments of Victor Lustig – The Conman who Sold Eiffel Tower twice

eiffel tower paris

If someone were to try to sell Eiffel tower to you, how will you respond to such an overture?  Will you agree to buy or just think of the other person as eccentric or someone who has lost his mental acuity?

Probably both, but Victor Lustig, was one such person who was able to achieve this feat not once but twice.

The hustler from Austria-Hungary born in 1890 was famous for swindling people without them even realizing that they have been conned.  He came up with his own version of Ten Commandments to build rapport and interpersonal relationships.  Although, used by him to deceive others, the principles hold value for everyone who wish to influence others.

The Ten Commandments of Victor Lustig

  1. Be a Patient Listener


The first principle, which he talks about, is something all of us know at a conscious level but hardly put to use.  People who do that however find it easy to not only build rapport but also influence others.


  1. Never Look Bored


Imagine you talking to someone who are constantly looking at their watch or mobile and paying attention to all the minute distractions around but not at what you are talking about.  Do you think you will carry a very positive impression of such a person?  Hardly so.


In order to get others to like us, it’s important to look interested and we can do so by asking questions to understand what they are talking about.  Questioning will also help us in better understanding the other person.


  1. Agree with other person’s political Opinion


A surefire way to get into an argument with someone is by talking about politics.  Lustig suggests never indulging in and if the other person talks of any political leanings be neutral or agree with him.


Ethically you might not want to agree with something you do not believe in. In such cases, it’s better to avoid and move the conversation to an agreeable topic.


  1. Agree with their religious views as well


Same goes for religious views and affiliations.  Politics and Religion can be extremely uniting or dividing and when one holds an opinion about it, it’s somewhat impossible to change, so better agree or change the topic if possible.


  1. Hint at sex talk but don’t follow-up unless the other person shows a strong interest


This was suggested in early 19th century and may not hold completely true now.  However, it is better to be a little discreet here.


  1. Never discuss illness until and unless the other person is very keen to know


Not many people are interested in knowing our problems and issues as they have a lot of their own to handle.  However, when you are meeting someone for the first time, it is advisable to avoid talking about it.


  1. Never Boast


When we do so, we are doing the animal’s equivalent of trying to appear bigger.  However, when the purpose is to influence or develop better interpersonal relationships, it’s always good to let the other person feel more important.


The feeling of importance will generate a better experience of that interaction for the other person, leading to positive thoughts about us.


  1. Never try to pry into their personal life


Don’t ask questions which they may not be comfortable answering to a stranger.  If we follow all the commandments, chances are they will reveal everything to us.


  1. Never be Untidy


Although, we all try to not let first impression affect us, it invariably does so, as proven in multiple studies and experiments.


So, when you try to impress someone, be neat, tidy and well dressed.


  1. Never Get Drunk


Alcohol reduces our mental capacity to manage things effectively.  We would have less control over our senses, which often leads to unexpected revealing of secrets and opinions potentially detrimental to our goals.


So avoid that trip to the bar or resist that glass of vodka.

Victor Lustig although gave these commandments almost 100 years ago, a lot of them are still relevant and can help us in developing much better working relationships.

Would love to see some additions to the list from you!

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