Self

9 Signs You Intimidate Others — Without Even Realizing It

Photo: El Nariz / Shutterstock
women with arms crossed

If you have ever been told you’re intimidating at a time when you just knew you were being sweet as pie, you are not alone.

It’s impossible to see yourself through the eyes of others, so even when you don’t know it, you may come off as intimidating to others.

To be fair, intimidation is a matter of perception. Some people will rightfully be intimidated by others who are threatening to their wellbeing or have intimidating personalities.

But sometimes, people are intimidated by others because they carry themselves with confidence, are successful, or seem unapproachable.

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A person with a strong personality can make people feel insecure without ever even knowing. Without signs like avoiding eye contact or awkward body language, it’s hard to know when people feel uncomfortable around you.

How do you know if you have an intimidating personality?

If you are the type of person that people are intimidated by, you may not be challenged when making suggestions; people may just go along with what you say to keep the peace.

If people are standoffish when you talk to them, or seem nervous or flustered during your interactions, you might be scaring them to death.

Maybe you see yourself as assertive or opinionated, but to others you could come across as overbearing, inflexible, or simply too much to handle.

Some other hints that your personality is intimidating include spending most of your time alone, being quick to cut others off, saying what you feel without hesitation, and having a strong sense of independence.

But how do you know if someone finds your mere presence intimidating? Here are some signs to look for when deciding if you intimidate people.

9 Signs Someone Is Intimidated By You

1. They avoid making eye contact.

An obvious sign that someone is intimidated by you is a lack of eye contact. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and there is no way they are letting you get a peek into theirs.

They could be looking around at anything except you while you are conversing. They might pretend to be busy shuffling through papers or looking through their phone — anything to keep from looking into your eyes.

2. The conversation is non-existent.

When a person is intimidated by you, you might be the last person in the world they want to be talking to right now.

If you notice that you are the only person bringing your thoughts and ideas to the conversation, others might be afraid to speak up. Or, you might be the kind of person that sucks up all the air in the room.

3. Their voice is almost inaudible.

People with confidence tend to project their voices when speaking. They are confident in their ideas and have no qualms about sharing them.

When people are intimidated, they talk in hushed voices, afraid of being rejected or thinking they are not smart enough to contribute. This can also come across as abnormally high-pitched voices when people are intimidated by you.

4. They are too agreeable.

There are people out there who love to surround themselves with "yes" men and women. If someone you know agrees with everything you say or do, they just might be intimidated by you.

People come from various walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds. There should always be diversity of opinion when discussing plans and concepts.

If no one objects to your suggestions and people go along to get along, you may be intimidating. They are afraid to step on your toes with answers or objections you may not approve of.

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5. They put distance between you.

Who wants to be close to a person they are afraid of? If you notice that someone is keeping their distance when you are around them, you could have an intimidating personality.

They may stay across the room to avoid coming into contact with you, take the seat furthest away from yours, or retreat when they see you coming. This is a clear sign they are intimidated by you.

6. They say sorry too much.

Everyone has met the "over-apologizer" at least once in their life. They bump into you and say sorry. They get in front of you in line and apologize. If you are hearing the word "sorry" too much from someone, you might be intimidating.

It is normal to apologize when you hurt or offend people. But some trivial things don’t require an apology. Over-apologizing lets you know that someone is intimidated when you’re around.

7. They are not interested in you.

Toxic people always steer the conversation back to themselves. But insecure people are slightly different. They don’t want to hear about the details of your fabulous life.

It could be that they are afraid of what they heard or perceived about you, or they are jealous of your successes and don’t want to hear anyone singing your praises. Either way, for some reason, you just intimidate them.

8. They are nervous and fidgety.

Have you ever assumed someone was socially awkward because their facial expressions were all over the place and they couldn’t seem to stay still during a conversation? It could be that they were simply intimidated by your existence.

Being around someone you are afraid of or don’t like can be nerve-wracking. The anxiety this causes can make you fidget in an attempt to avoid "confronting" your fear.

Take it as a signal that your personality may intimidate others.

9. They assume you are against them.

Insecure people can be paranoid, especially around someone who intimidates them. If a person you know always assumes you are out to get them or is taking sides against them, you intimidate him or her.

Maybe you are a go-getter who is always making moves to enhance your life and they think you will look out for yourself at all costs. This could lead them to believe you are against them, no matter what the real circumstances are.

Intimidation is very subjective, because what might be intimidating to one person could be inspirational to another.

If you believe someone is intimidated by you and, after analysis, decide that you are perpetuating that view with your actions, make the necessary changes to be more open and welcoming.

On the other hand, if you are doing nothing to cause someone to fear or be intimidated by you, it may be time for them to see a counselor or life coach to deal with their insecurities.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.

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