“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine
I watched the the small shrub tip forward as I slowly pulled into the coffee shop on a sunny Tuesday morning. Realizing that I had pulled a little too far forward, I slowly backed up so the planter could rest flat on the ground. I made a mental note to check the planter before I went inside.
I love Tuesday mornings. It’s four hours a week that I get uninterrupted time to write. This particular Tuesday morning I happened to be in a funk.
I had tried two other coffee shops that morning already. Both happened to have construction outside in their parking lots. Construction would put a serious damper on my focus.
Feeling a bit frazzled, I went to an establishment I knew I could count on. The place where, as soon as I walk in, they basically have my order waiting and call me by name. I love this place but it’s not my favorite place to write, more of my favorite place to meet up with friends.
Still in my car, I was gathering my things to go in when I noticed two police officers walk out of the coffee shop. Nothing new, this is the place that they usually hang out. My eyes widened as I turned to my right and watched them both cross their arms and narrow their eyes at me through my drivers side window.
My heart started racing. I opened the car door and asked them what I could do for them. They started questioning me. They asked me if I knew that I had tipped one of the planters forward. I told them of course, didn’t they see me back up?
As the conversation went on I realized I was being harassed by two cops. All over a dumb planter that, after close inspection, was not damaged. Not a scratch or a scuff. These two officers apparently had too much frappe and not enough crime to deal with so instead they decided to pick on a me for bumping a planter.
I left as soon as they were done unloading their macho on me. I did not go in the coffee shop, I drove home, crying the whole way. I started to wonder what this experience was supposed to teach me.
“The Devil has two very masterful tricks. He tempts us to become discouraged… then we are defeated and of no service to others… The other is to tempt us to doubt, thereby breaking the bond of faith that unites us with the Father.” Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman p. 390
Once home I called the coffee shop manager. I explained what had happened. Knowing who I was she apologized, she didn’t see it happen and felt awful that I was treated so poorly. It felt good to be understood.
Emotionally spent after the whole ordeal, I was in no mood to write. Instead I took my oldest daughter to the library and lunch. Spending time with her uplifted my spirit.
“..cultivate the spirit of happiness!” Satan doesn’t like messing with a soul “full of the happiness and joy of the Holy Spirit.” Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman p. 390
I was not tempted to blame God for what happened that day but I was very curious as to what he was trying to teach me.
Over the next few days, through prayer and devotions God shared exactly what I needed to learn from that experience. He also told me how I could apply it to my life going forward.
“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.” Ephesians 1:14a NLT
First, he reminded me that I have his Spirit in my soul. His spirit was with me the entire time during my conflict with the police officers.
Secondly, he reminded me that he is above anything on this earth. There is nothing too big, no authority too powerful. God is in control.
“Now he is far above any rule or authority or power or leader or anything else in the world or in the world to come.” Ephesians 1:21 NLT
I just finished reading The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane. This book is one of the best guides I have found on how to have charisma in any situation. She tells how charisma is not something you are born with. Charisma is a skill that anyone can develop.
As I thought about the situation with the policemen, I wondered how I could have had more charisma. Really, when I look back on it, I basically barked at them, put my tail between my legs and whimpered off. I was frustrated that I didn’t have enough skill to have left that situation feeling confident and strong.
Olivia’s book answers the question on how to deal with situations like this…
“When you need to win someone over, asking them for their opinion and expressing gratitude for things they’ve done for you in the past are ways to encourage them to rationalize in your favor.” The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane p.233
Not what you would expect? I didn’t think about this either. Especially doling out compliments to the officers. Why would I want to say something nice to them when they were obviously harassing me?
Olivia’s point is…
“Express appreciation for their help or positive impact: it’ll make them rationalize their actions in your favor.” The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane p.186
Seems a bit twisted, but I understand her point. Let’s see how the whole situation was set up for me that morning.
The places I thought I would write were not available. I became discouraged. I worried about how much time I was going to write. I felt frustrated. I bumped a planter in front of the coffee shop. I was embarrassed. By the time the police came out to talk to me I was already feeling bad and defeated.
I did not have the right mindset or tools at that time to deal properly with the situation. Honestly, I am surprised I didn’t get a ticket for being mouthy. I believe the only reason they didn’t give me a ticket was that they knew they were in the wrong as well.
Here are six things I would do differently if I were allowed to re-live that interaction with the police. You can use these tips next time you find yourself in a difficult situation.
How to Have Charisma in A Difficult Situation
Stop and breathe. Before I opened my car door to address the police, I’d close my eyes and take a deep breath. I’d think of a reason why I appreciate police officers. I’d make every effort to be in a positive frame of mind before I opened my car door. This creates a calm internal state and sets up positive body language. This also diffuses the fight or flight feelings. I would be relaxed and not stressed.
Change your body language. I would smile at the officers, roll my shoulders back, stand up straight and address the police with a strong “Hello, how can I help you?” This makes me look strong and confident. Watch this Ted talk to learn more about how your body language can change how others see you. (click here)
Stay present in the situation. I’d give them eye contact, focus and be attentive. I would pause and show understanding on my face before responding, showing that I was listening and respectful.
Thank them. I would have given them a compliment about how I appreciate their job. I would acknowledge that what they do is tough and I appreciate that they keep me and my family safe.
State your case. I would have calmly talked to them about my case, depersonalizing it so they felt understood rather than attacked. Help them to see the situation from my side of things without accusing them.
Leave the situation feeling strong. I imagine doing all of the above would have made them back off and perhaps even apologize for their unprofessional behavior.
It is easy to become victims to our situations. We forget that we have God on our side helping us. We become full of worry, anxiety and frustration.
“It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, worrying, wondering if God has forsaken us, and thinking that after all we have been through, our hopes are going to end in failure.” Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman p. 390
We can be confident that we have the Spirit in our soul helping us and guiding us. If you have the confidence of God in your heart and you work on developing your charisma you will be able to walk away from any difficult situation with confidence and strength.
“..as we stand firm, refusing to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid, giving us the faith of God.” Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman p. 390
Here are tools that you can use to become a stronger, more confident person in any situation.
- 1. Spend time daily in meditation and prayer. I have a blog post HERE that shares with you how to do this in five minutes a day.
- 2. Prepare and invest in yourself. Read my “Secrets to Progress” to learn how you can set yourself up for a positive day, everyday.
- 3. Read The Charisma Myth. This book is full of amazing tips and action items to help you develop more personal magnetism and charisma. I REALLY love this book! I gave it a five star review on Goodreads. You can get your copy by clicking the image below.
I also want to mention the devotional I quoted from in this post. Streams in The Desert by L.B. Cowman. This has been an amazing source of inspiration for me. I have owned it since I was in high school, many years ago. I still draw inspiration from it today. You can get your copy by clicking the image below.
Strive for progress!
Your turn! When faced with a difficult situation how do you deal with it? I would love to hear your tips and tricks for dealing with negative situations. Tell me in the comments below.