I sat there staring for a moment at the woman who'd walked outside to tell me to clear out, thinking about how to be a powerful man in a situation like this. I was sitting at an empty table -- one of about thirty of them -- in a largely empty seating area in the middle of a square surrounded by a bunch of restaurants.
"You can't sit here, sorry," she told me. I'd gotten my food at one of the restaurants ringing the square. She apparently was from another one. "This seating is only for our customers."
I looked slowly out over the tables. Then I looked back to her. "All of this?" I said, gesturing to the entire square of empty tables.
"Yes," she said. "That's all ours."
I briefly considered. On the one hand, it was incredibly unnecessary for her to come and ask me to get up and leave. It's not like there was a mad grab for tables; they were almost all empty. And it wasn't like me sitting at the table was going to wear the chair out or anything. I supposed there was the risk that I'd leave some crumbs or garbage or something and she'd have to clean up after a non-customer.
But on the other hand, it was her restaurant's private property. They paid for it, they owned the rights to it, and they had final say on who gets to use it, when, and why. That's how it works in cities, where there's basically no public property. Fighting back means fighting the system; police or security get called, and then it's a big mess.
"Okay," I said. "Which restaurant are you?" I asked her. "That one?" I said, pointing to a classy Japanese place.
"No," she said, "that one." She pointed toward a tiny little deli. I had a hard time imagining a deli was going to fill up all these seats with paying customers and that owning the rights to use this big outdoor square (and spending the time to police it all) was worth it.
"Okay," I said, after another moment. "I'll head elsewhere." I slowly started packing up my food.
"Sorry," she said quietly, and walked off, leaving me to pack up and leave. I noticed there'd been some people who'd stopped to watch the interaction. As I slowly packed my things and left, they turned and went their ways.
After I left, I realized I should've just ordered a bottled water for $1 or whatever it was from the deli. I'll do that next time. But regardless, it got me thinking about looking powerful even when you're not getting your way, which can end up being something that makes or breaks your interactions with women, more often than you might care to think.
Powerful" Doesn't Always Mean "Victorious"
In my post on how to be an alpha male from a little while back, I discuss the difference between a man who's truly perceived as in-charge and unshakeable and what a lot of the guys who go around tossing the word "alpha" about think it is. Powerful is kinda like that.
Tied in with the idea that's making the rounds now of what "alpha" really is, there's this idea that a core element of how to be a powerful man is that powerful men always win. If you suffer some kind of failure or setback, then you've become not powerful, or at least less powerful.
But this understanding of what "powerful" is neglects one core, undeniable fact about powerful individuals:
Powerful men don't always win.
Even the biggest win machines rack up losses between those wins. That's the nature of things.
Think of any man you consider powerful, and you can see this to be the case.
- Your favorite sports player suffers repeated failure, setbacks, and losses.
- That imposing politician that sprung to mind has lost elections, had his hat handed to him in debates, and sat there in a room all by himself wondering if he's ever going to succeed.
- Every guy you know who's talented with women has had women stand him up, stop responding to his calls and texts, insult him or act rude to him, walk away from him, or refuse him flat out for just about everything he's ever asked women to do.
- Even your own personal strongest, toughest male role models from your own life -- that great boss you had, the teacher who inspired you and made a difficult subject a joy, your dad -- they've been beaten up by men, rejected by women, and told to clear out of areas that they arguably probably shouldn't have had a problem being in.
That doesn't mean they're weak though. They aren't. And it doesn't mean they're failures. Far from it.
Powerful men lose too. Steve Jobs, busily being hailed as a corporate messiah right now and one of the most powerful, effective business leaders in history -- and for good reason -- released products that were flops, tussled with his board of directors and lost, and eventually got booted from his own company.
Yet, we still see him as powerful.
The reason why powerful men can fail and still remain perceived as powerful has much to do with two things:
- How they handle the setback, and
- How they recover from it.
Setbacks, Not Shutdowns
Every now and then I'll compare successful outings I've had with women with unsuccessful ones I've had.
Early 2009 was a turning point for me in game, because that was when I discovered that with enough work, I could usually get a girl I found attractive to go home with me. I'd reached the point I'd set out to reach 4 years earlier; what I perceived of as the pinnacle of pick up: the ability to pick up on any given night I found myself motivated enough to stick it out (provided, of course, a continuous supply of women to go meet).
That turning point came on a string of nights that I picked up on in a row, and the first night was particularly insightful. I started the night off with a bang -- I met two beautiful Swedish girls on the beach, and both were very attracted to me. With my two buddies, I moved us all around, got to know the girls, and the vibe got very sexual. But I looked at these two girls -- both slim, sexy blonde girls with great accents -- and I looked at my two buddies, and I said to myself, "I can find more like this."
So I rose, told my pals I was going to have to run to the bathroom, and disappeared. I offered these girls -- either of whom I was certain I could've had -- to my friends, as my gift to them, and struck out on my own to find a girl for me.
For two hours, I combed the beach, meeting hordes of women, and having most of them refuse to talk to me flat out. It seemed the magic had gone. I felt disappointed; it wasn't as easy as it'd seemed at first. But I took comfort in the knowledge I'd set my pals up with those two pretty girls who clearly wanted nothing more than to be taken to bed.
And then I saw the Swedish girls. They were still at our table, but now my pals were gone and two other men were in their seats.
"Where are my friends?" I asked them, surprised and confused.
"Oh," said one of the girls, "they went looking for you."
I was shocked. I'd sacrificed the opportunity to take these great girls to bed in order to be kind to my friends, and they just... left them there? To look for me?
I went and sat down on the beach, watching the waves crash on the shore. Then, I stood up, and started walking the beach again. I wasn't going to let this night get me down.
I met a few more girls. No dice. And then I saw two girls sitting on the beach by themselves, with no one else around.
They looked cute.
They looked bored.
"Tired of partying, huh?" I said. They seemed unmoved.
"We're just resting," said one.
"Yeah, it's getting a little too crazy for me too," I told them.
"We're okay," they said.
"I'm Chase," I said. They introduced themselves. "Tell you what," I continued, "let's throw our own party." They were skeptical; they wanted to know what I meant. I told them we'd get some music and drinks at my hotel; they weren't sure about it. I convinced them it'd be a good time, and we all went.
I didn't end up sleeping with the girls -- I made out with both, and got the pants and panties off of one and got well into foreplay with her, but the other lost her cool and ended it for all of us, probably about 10 seconds before I and the girl would've gotten intimate, we were that close (it was my mistake for going for the follower first, rather than the leader among the two girls) -- but the way things played out that night made me start realizing that setbacks didn't mean all was lost.
A setback only meant that a particular opportunity was lost, not that all opportunity was lost entirely.
I could've given up after I found that I couldn't get other girls ready to go quite as easily as that initial pair of Swedish girls. I could've given up after I'd seen my pals squander the opportunity I'd given them, which was particularly demoralizing since I liked those girls and was trying to be extremely generous and gracious and the ball got dropped (I became a lot more selfish in pick up after that... not completely, but I won't pass the buck on girls I like who like me too anymore). But by not shutting down in the face of setback, I was able to rally, and come back and have a relatively fun and interesting ending for the night.
I use this example to illustrate the two things I'm going to discuss next: those two points we mentioned earlier of handling setbacks and rebounding from them.
How to Be a Powerful Man, Even While Losing
It's (relatively) easy to be powerful while winning:
- Lead decisively
- Be slow and deliberate in your movements
- Be humble
- Be sexy
- Ignore anyone who's rude or ignorant
- Follow sprezzatura and the Law of Least Effort
And as discussed in my seduction ebook, posture and nonverbals are some of the most important aspects of coming across as powerful and commanding of all: a straight back, a great walk, and how you move are just a few examples.
Well, okay, so maybe not easy if you're just starting out, but you can get most of this down with some consistent focus on it. See "How to Be an Alpha Male" and "Sprezzatura, Effort, and Investing" for a lot of the perspective you'll need to really take off with rocket fuel here.
What's harder -- often a lot harder -- is learning how to be a powerful man even as you lose.
What do you do when a girl tells you she isn't interested?
What do you do when some big guy is rude to you and it isn't worth fighting for?
What do you do when someone tells you to clear out, and they've got the force of the entire police force and military behind them with but a phone call?
Most people do one of the following:
- They get upset: angry, emotional, frustrated, crying;
- They get vengeful, obstinate, or rude and refusing; or
- They get meek, compliant, and fearful.
But the thing is... none of those come across as powerful.
- The man who's angry seems like he's struggling back against a stronger foe
- The man who's emotional and upset seems weak and beaten
- The man who's vengeful, obstinate, or rude seems classless and knuckleheaded
- The man who's meek and compliant seems like a pushover
Men who act this way destroy their chances with women when women see them act this way... even when women don't see them act this way but other people do, and treat them like men who act this way, or when those men act this way and stay in the emotional state they're in and screw up their own future interactions with women. This sort of behavior is directly contrary to the behavior that inspires romantic and sexual attraction in women.
So instead of taking any of those routes, I'm going to tell you to take the following steps:
- Remain calm, and move and speak slowly. Calmness and slowness communicate power and control. People naturally become deferential around slow-moving, calm people, because moving slow and remaining calm tells the other person you're not responding emotionally to the situation -- which implies that you're confident you'll be okay and will get what you want. Only powerful people act this way.
- If the other person is calm, ask how you can make it work. I've had ticket agents hold airplanes for me after telling me I couldn't board because I was late (I guess I'm just that guy sometimes) when I calmly asked, "Okay, how can we make it work then? We've got twenty-five minutes; how do I make it to that flight before it takes off?" If you don't get upset and instead ask for a way to make it work (and leave it up to the other person to come up with a solution), this works a surprising percentage of the time (maybe 30% of the time, which sounds low but is actually a great boost in situations you'd always lose normally).
- If the other person is a rule maker, play by her rules. Like mentioned earlier, with that table outside I'm guessing the girl who came out was a stickler for the rules... a less rule-orientated girl wouldn't have gone to the trouble to walk all the way out to the table to tell me to clear out when there weren't any customers who needed to sit there. So, had I simply played by her rules -- had I ordered something small, a token purchase from the restaurant -- she would've been unable to refuse me.
- If the other person is emotional, give her a moment, then address her emotions and immediately take action. If you're talking to a girl and say something that upsets her, give her a moment to sit there with the emotion -- don't be reactive -- then turn back to her (perhaps 10 to 30 seconds later, depending on the strength of her emotional response) and explain your actions calmly and without extraneous justification.
e.g., if you've just insulted her accidentally when trying to tease her a little too hard, let things cool off for a minute, look away for about 10 seconds, then turn back and quietly but matter-of-factly say, "Hey, look, I was just giving you a hard time. I think you're cute and I like talking to you; if you feel I over-teased you, it was only because I like you and maybe my style of flirting is a little more intense than what you're used to. Friends?"
Then, when she calms down and accepts, immediately take action: lead her somewhere else. "Come on, let's get an ice water," or, "Let's go sit down and chill a bit."
- If it's a no-win situation -- if you don't see a way out -- use questions to remain in command and give yourself time to think. Meek people just accept what they're told. Powerful people want to know who's telling them and what that person's authority is before they decide whether to accept instruction or not.
If a complete stranger walks up to you and starts telling you what to do, unless he's wearing a uniform (and even then sometimes) your default response should be to begin slowly and calmly questioning him, in a non-confrontational way. e.g.,:
Guy: Hey man, you're going to have to leave.
You: Hello. Do you work here?
Guy: No, but this is my table.
You: Oh, your VIP table? You paid for this one?
You: Okay, sure. I'm Peter. What's your name?
You: Okay. Philip, is this just your table, or is it everyone's table who's sitting here?
Guy: It's all of ours.
You: Got you. Because the reason I ask is, I'm friends with Chrissie and Clara and they invited me over here. Hey Chrissie, are you friends with Philip? He thinks we should leave.
Chrissie: Philip, it's okay. Peter's a friend.
If it really is his table and he paid for it, then he has the right to ask you to leave if everyone else who paid is in agreement. But you need to find out that that really is the case first.
- Involve others. As in that last example -- where Peter pulls in Chrissie to go to bat for him -- if you're getting nowhere with one person, pull in someone else (in group scenarios). This can be pulling in people you know in a circle to justify your presence to people you don't, or getting additional employees or management to help out when you're dealing with someone who isn't helping you in a business, legal, or governmental context.
- Bow out graciously. If you must lose, be set back, or walk away, do so with graciousness. Don't go out kicking and screaming; then it looks all the more as though someone else has imposed his will over you. Instead, bow out with that same calmness and slowness we talked about before. "Okay, in that case I'll move," followed by slowly packing up after you've been asked to cleared out and found out who this person asking you to do so is and what authority she has is the best possible response when you simply have to go.
And for recovering from setbacks?
You just have to keep doing what you do, and keep trying.
Just because you've been asked to clear out doesn't mean you never sit at a table outside again. You sit at tables when you want to; if someone asks you to move, and it's their property, then you move.
Just because you ran into a problem with a girl doesn't mean you stop approaching. You keep approaching, and learn how better to handle things as you go, and mentally accept that a lot of the time it isn't going to work out, and you've just got to keep at it until you do make it work.
When I've endured setbacks in the presence of girlfriends or girls I was just getting to know who saw me handle those setbacks with grace and dignity, I've universally seen instantly increased solidarity from those girls, and often them getting far more upset and indignant toward the person or people setting me back than I was.
No one expects you to always win.
Because the most powerful men in the world do fail and falter and suffer setbacks -- sometimes great setbacks.
But just like Steve Jobs, men aren't thought of as lesser men for suffering setbacks. They're thought of as greater men -- as more powerful men -- for overcoming them. Jobs' story wouldn't have been nearly as interesting had he had smooth sailing from Day 1 on the road to Apple's present success. And I doubt he'd be seen as anywhere near as impressive and powerful a figure today had he not suffered that large setback; it's part of his mythos.
The secret to how to be a powerful man isn't to not fail. It's to fail with graciousness, tact, and honor -- but to not give up, and come back and continue to be bold and continue to succeed after the fact.
'Tis a far more powerful way of dealing with things than anything else you might do.