Feeling intimidated by others is as much on you as it is on them. Intimidation often triggers insecurities and we all know how it goes down from there. As much as I hate to say it, there is no easy way around it. You have to be emotionally strong and that takes time. The overly intimidating behavior of a boss, the fear of a bully at school, or being awe-inspired by someone’s knowledge and experience makes us all cringe a little. That is because we are either intimidated by fear of others or sheer admiration.
Intimidation is a two-sided play. It can either be a healthy experience that helps you see the faults in you and turn them into your strengths. Or it can be nerve-wracking to an extent that you stop functioning properly.
Workplace intimidation will more likely have you leave the job altogether, but what for? To start the complete cycle with another cynical boss whose days of being kind and gentle are over?
YOU need to make a change.
While forceful intimidation will always lead to bullying and should in no case be tolerated, finding the crux of the intimidation might help you overcome it entirely. The only guard that you’re ever going to get up against intentional and unintentional intimidation is by recognizing real threats from the paper tigers.
How’s that done?
Our brains are hotwired to be on the lookout for threats around us. It is partly what has kept our earliest ancestors alive, but it is also us trying to get one-up on everyone. And when that game of upping fails and you spot another alpha around, you lose your chill. The good thing, however, is that our thought process, and fear response and recognition can be changed over time. How much time, we don’t know, but patience is a virtue.
The following suggestions will get you started on building high thresholds for intimidation. And eventually, become completely immune to it.
Identify The Problem
Easier said than done, but seeing when and where you start to get intimidated by others gives you a place to start working on yourself.
You have to remember, it is you who has to evolve, the others won’t adjust or cooperate.
Is it the fear of embarrassment at the cafeteria that stops you from speaking up to a buff guy, fear of losing your job with your boss, or fear of losing a relationship when with your partner?
You only get intimidated by others when you have a subtle fear of something going wrong if you respond otherwise.
So you submit. You avoid making eye contact, drop your shoulders, face away from the person, and start fidgeting because you feel vulnerable.
Yes, some people enjoy having an intimidating personality but that shouldn’t bother you.
Don’t show resistance right away, but instead of drowning into self-pity after such exhausting encounters, try to see when and where the problem begins.
Give Up The Comparison
We are all in the constant state of judging others and comparing ourselves to them. Ever wondered why you pull your shoulders back and lift your head a little higher than usual when with people you find yourself better to?
(It’s you that’s the intimidating one now!)
But as soon as you start drawing comparisons to others and you realize that they outdo you, you lose your confidence and get intimidated without them having said a word.
What you must do here is leave the competition where it belongs, in a sport that you play or even striving for a bonus at work, but don’t bring it to every table that you go to.
Comparison is something that has been brainwashed into our heads as the technological advancements began. The self-pity trips after going through a popular person’s Instagram are no strange feelings to us.
This is why it may not be the easiest thing to do and you have to keep reminding yourself of good that’s in you and diverting your attention from baseless comparisons.
Whenever you find yourself getting into drawing a comparison to someone in your head, always remind yourself that you two are completely different people from different backgrounds, and share different experiences.
The flaws and mistakes of that person may not be visible to you right now just as your own accomplishments aren’t. So think about your accomplishments instead and you’ll realize that you aren’t falling that short.
The sooner you kill the habit and instinct of comparison, the sooner will you realize how much it clouds your thinking and lures you into getting intimidated.
Get The Preparations In Order
Referring back to the first suggestion, once you know what situations and what people intimidate you, you can start having advanced preparations for those.
Feeling intimidated makes you forgetful and absent-minded, which in turn makes you even more vulnerable.
Standing there with a blank face and either drowning yourself in self-pity or seeing how the other person is stronger or better than you isn’t going to do you any good.
Look for the patterns and see what intimidates you the most. Is it your bossy employer? Is it any guy bigger in size than you are? Or is it the fear of doing something embarrassing in the spotlight?
- Your advanced preparations can be writing down points of what you would like to say to your boss when you next meet him/her.
Whenever you find empty-minded in a meeting with your boss, you can always refer to the points written down and get your point across.
- Hit the gym if a guy stronger or fitter than you intimidate you. Because it is not their strength that has you insecure but your own lack of activity and fitness.
You can make a motivation out of it by hitting the gym even harder to build up the confidence in your body that you need.
- Being afraid of getting embarrassed in front of crowds is a real fear, but if it is keeping you from getting your point across to someone then you must work on it.
Become more social and start with simple greetings to everyone. Realizing how everyone responds to you in the same manner as you greet will build confidence in setting the pace for a conversation with just about anyone.
These preparations increase your focus on what’s more important and what should be done in a certain situation. Focus helps you keep your nerves and cloud the negative thoughts going through your head.
Work On Your Body Language
“Fake it till you make it”
Our mind and body work in harmony and either one of them can pull the other towards how it feels.
A nervous and insecure mind causes the body to feel tense.
Breaking a sweat, fidgeting, tapping toes, dropping the shoulders, avoiding eye contact, and bending the back a little are just some of the examples.
Similarly, having straight standing/sitting posture with your shoulders pulled back and head held high makes you feel confident, and eases up your mind as well as it gives the impression of being safe and in control.
It may not always apply, but 9 times out of 10, if you have the right body language, you will not feel as intimidated by others as you would do otherwise.
Mind that it is not just the posture but your entire body language.
Keeping as close to your natural posture as possible is the safest bet always. It keeps you from putting up a fake impression because that divides your mind even more.
The crux of the matter is to keep the right eye-contact, avoid fidgeting and toe movements, and pay close attention to what’s being said.
If you manage to trick your body into feeling confident and safe, the mind will surely follow and you wouldn’t be as intimidated as before.
Trying Looking At The Situation From Their Perspective
Focusing too much on what you want a certain person to do makes you miss out on important clues as to why a person is behaving that way.
Firstly, no one is perfect. We are all humans and we all have our flaws.
That is not to say that you involve yourself in bringing out the flaws of another person but to acknowledge them.
The intimidating person too has a personal life, might be dealing with traumas, depression, and anxiety.
Since it is the very basic human instinct to mask inferiority with superiority, unaccounted intimidation can indicate a very delicate life behind the person that you see.
Kind and comforting words are very disarming, simply listening to what the person has to say, processing it, and offering a helpful response might be a building block for your rapport.
Also, the buff guy calling you out at the cafeteria might just mean to tell you that your shirt is stuck in underwear, or your boss might be losing because of an actual shortcoming of yours.
It is not always what you expect, we overestimate the fear and neglect the opportunities.
Take a chill pill at times and see what the other person is really offering, it might be something that benefits you.
Don’t Let Anything To Stop You From Believing In Yourself
It is not about where you are right now but how far you’ve come.
An intimidating boss or person may just even be obsessed with having a powerful position and imposing his authority over you because that might the only authority he gets in life or makes him happy.
But to let the remarks and behavior get to you is only going to affect your performance and career. You are where you are because you’re good at something, own it.
The criticism becomes easy to avoid when you start visualizing the person in humorous situations.
Visualize the intimidating person as a cartoon character that has their tummy bulging out, a red afro, or jamming to one of Taylor Swift’s hits.
This is not a very promising sounding thing to do but it does trick your brain to reduce the fight or flight response as the threat no longer seems to be a threat.
Again, sticking to your point of view will tell the intimidating person that you have self-value.
Making sound statements with validation will cut the overpowering behavior of the person and will come around to see the truth in what you have to say as well.
See what you can pick up from the person that helps you but if it doesn’t, don’t keep up with the bullying.
Draw a line and make your boundaries known. You do not have to adopt the same intimidating tone or aggressive behavior but simply stating how something is making you uncomfortable will give out the message.
How To Tell If Someone Is Intimidated By You?
While some people enjoy the position of being in power and intimidating others, it is a serious problem for others because it keeps them from many social and light-hearted interactions in life. It is fairly easy to tell if someone is intimidated by observing their body language.
If you notice people avoiding eye-contact, uneasiness in their voice, absent-mindedness, or even the lack of honest opinions and suggestions, chances are that they are intimidated by you. We cannot control how our body behaves and so it gives out exactly what the mind is feeling.
How Do I Stop Being Intimidated By My Boss?
The position of a boss naturally gives him/her more authority, and that can be the cause of intimidation. Only to know that the power to ruin your career or end it in that firm lies with them keeps you from expressing yourself as would like to.
You can stop this intimidation by acknowledging their authority, but also by setting your boundaries. Speak up when it is needed and do not let the intimidation get to a point where it affects your mental health or routine. Trying looking for patterns of intimidation and approach at times when you expect the least resistance.
How Do You Tell If A Man Is Intimidated By You?
It is not unusual for men to be intimidated by women who they might think to be above their league. If a man is intimidated by you, you will often find him bragging a lot about himself.
He will also indirectly hint you into knowing that you perfectly fit his “type”, but will never really ask you out. He may also have a mutual friend tag along every time he has to meet you or talk to you because your sheer presence intimidates him.
What Does Intimidation Feel Like?
Intimidation is most simply the feeling of fear. It is the fear of being encountered with something better and stronger than you, and you find their shadow growing over you.
It is also the forceful implementation of fear on someone, like the bullies at school, workplace, or the government warning the public about serious repercussions to certain matters.
The main byproduct of intimidation is discouragement and shattering the self-belief of a person. One feels threatened and has to accept his own inferiority to someone.
Some of us are better equipped to deal with the intimidating behavior of others than most. But none has to put up with the mess of another person if they don’t like to.
Some intimidating people cross the line towards toxicity and can have a huge toll on your mental health, so it is important to know when to call off.
But every situation is an opportunity to grow as well. You can take the hits for a while until you learn how to tactfully deal with such people. This will help you grow and prosper in your career and life.