Is it a running joke that your friends found you intimidating before they got to know you? You might be intimidating people more than you realize.

An intimidating personality is not inherently a bad thing. It’s not that you’re meaning to be aggressive, some people just find certain traits more daunting than others.

Maybe it’s that you really know what you want, or you don’t have the patience for nonsense. What bothers you might leave others feeling a little jaded and could be harming your professional and personal relationships.

Intimidating personality definition

What does it mean to be an intimidating person? It is someone who makes others feel timid or frightened.

Such people can be perceived as confrontational, off-putting, authoritative, and even aggressive. However, it is not always who they really are – more often than not, people who look intimidating are just blunt.

Intimidating personality traits

1. Brutal honesty

Your bluntness can sometimes be taken the wrong way and cause upset.

2. Decisiveness

Not many people know how to make quick decisions and might wonder how you came to such a fast conclusion.

3. Disliking small talk

Not engaging with people can come across as rude and arrogant.

4. Zero tolerance for ignorance

No tolerance for ignorance can come across as impatience or hot-headedness.

5. Reliance on logic

An intimidating personality is typically led by reason rather than emotion, which can make them seem cold and unfeeling.

6. No tolerance for complaining

An intimidating person won’t waste their time listening to chronic complainers, which also seems impatient and rude.

7. Strong moral code

Sticking to your moral compass is a respectable quality but does make others feel as though they can’t slip up.

8. Sticking to your word

Not everyone can do that, and it might mean sacrifices that other people don’t understand or can’t justify to themselves.

9. NOT a people pleaser

Someone with an intimidating personality is unconcerned about pleasing people. This can be perceived as a little scary, especially when other people are afraid to ruffle feathers or are a little less secure than you are.

10. Open-mindedness

Paradoxically, this good quality can make others feel uncomfortable. Not everyone is as happy in the unknown as you are.

11. Strong will

Being strong-willed means you’re not afraid to go against the grain and do things your own way. Some people just don’t know how to forge their own path like you do.

12. Knowing what you want

Since not everyone does and not everyone is as brave as you to chase their goals, knowing what you want may seem intimidating enough to other people.

13. Convincing

The ability to convince others without being arrogant or aggressive is a great skill, but it can make you seem a little unapproachable.

14. Goal-oriented

While it might help you stay on track and watch your progress, it can be intimidating to others who aren’t so organized and aren’t sure what they want.

15. Opinionated

If you have an intimidating personality, you aren’t swayed by others and you aren’t afraid to take part in a lively debate.

In themselves, these traits are not automatically intimidating, but they can leave people feeling a little nervous.

There are some key signs that your personality is intimidating people, but it’s important to understand their body language. Here are 10 telltale signs that people feel intimidated by you.

Signs that other people find your personality intimidating

1. They avoid eye contact

Avoiding eye contact is a telltale sign someone finds you intimidating. They might feel embarrassed, or perhaps eye contact makes them feel vulnerable.

2. They turn away

Turning slightly away from you acts as a protective mechanism because that person feels unsafe or unsettled in a situation. By turning away, escape becomes easier.

3. They speak quietly

Speaking quietly, which might be annoying to you, is another sign that the other person is afraid.

4. Or they speak in a high tone

Speaking in a high tone is the same as speaking quietly and can mean that the other person is anxious and uncomfortable.

5. They don’t ask you questions

Others don’t ask questions about yourself because they want to end the conversation as soon as possible and make a swift get away. Of course, they might be self-centered, but if other signs are in play, it may be a sign of intimidation.

6. They fidget

Fidgeting, although not always, can be a sign that someone is not entirely comfortable and has a nervous energy that they need to somehow get rid of.

7. They step back

Physical distance creates the perfect protective barrier, allowing someone to install safety between them and the person they are intimidated by. If someone lingers in the doorway or takes a step away from you, it might be a sign that they find your behavior intimidating.

8. They are afraid to criticize you

Refusing to offer constructive feedback or calling you out when you’re wrong is a sign that other people are afraid of how you’ll react. If you only receive positive feedback, it might be down to you being an intimidating person.

9. They don’t seek your support

Assuming you won’t be on their side, either because you don’t handle it very well or because they think you won’t handle it very well, is another sign that people find your personality intimidating.

10. They don’t ask you for help

Not coming to you for help can have to do with the fact that other people don’t want to create situations where they would be around you. If you’re not great with ignorance or poor performance, you might be a difficult person to ask for help when it’s really needed.

If you think you are being perceived as an intimidating personality, it might be time that you really ask yourself some questions and address those behaviors.

Little changes in how you interact with people can make a huge difference. Here are four things you can start implementing straight away to make people more comfortable.

How to be less intimidating?

1. Be respectful

Not everyone handles criticism in the same way. If you have to tell someone that their performance is lacking, try hearing your words from their perspective.

It’s okay to tell them something isn’t good enough, but you should make an effort to clarify how they can improve in the future. Sit down with them and show them their mistakes and how they can fix them.

2. Validate other people’s feelings

We aren’t always going to agree with each other, and people can feel very passionately about certain things. Validating those feelings is a great start to getting them to come around to a new idea or a new way of thinking.

Let them know that you hear them, or that you understand that they feel a certain way before bringing in your perspective. Try to guide them towards a new idea rather than being so quick to get straight to the point.

3. Get used to (and get better at) small talk

Small talk might be your worst nightmare, but it is an essential part of interpersonal relationships. People want to feel like you are interested in them and their lives.

Don’t be afraid to share some personal details about yours, either. It makes people feel more comfortable around you and can help soften your intimidating exterior.

4. Offer help

Not everyone feels comfortable asking for help, especially when they feel intimidated by the person they’re asking it from. If you see someone that is struggling, try offering help before they ask because they might have been too afraid to ask in the first place.

Stay calm and respectful, and listen to their problem in full to see how you can assist them. They will definitely appreciate it. When people feel heard, it will also make them more likely to come to you in the future.

Knowing what you want, knowing how to get it, and having the willfulness to go for it are not bad traits, but it’s important to remember that others around you have feelings, too.

Garnering those interpersonal relationships can also help you achieve your goals, even if it isn’t right now. While you should absolutely strive for your success, try to think of others so that you won’t be perceived as an intimidating personality.


power of misfits book banner mobile

Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

power of misfits book banner mobile

Like what you are reading? Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss new thought-provoking articles!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Bonnie Moore

    Dear author,

    So, I must compromise my Beliefs, Values and Morals/Ethics in order to make the average undemanding masses to be happy, or, to put it “bluntly”, to not being myself?

    I will answer by quoting my dearest TV character:

    “I don’t have time for your CONVENIENT IGNORANCE” (Scully)

    I am an MD and a Nuclear Cardiology physician, just in case.

    Antonio Farfan-Fiorani

  2. CSS

    Bonnie Moore,

    Well said, I feel the same as you. Why should I change myself to make other people comfortable if I’m coming from a good place? Why are their insecurities my problem?

  3. JG

    Not everyone likes a bully

    Thats intimidation. I shpuld know as someone who lives woth someone so rude everyday that its hard to string a sentence.

    My own sister.

    You might call it “being real” but some people defone this as bullying. Being blunt can sometimes be horrible.

    Its not about chamging everything about yourself, its called respecting someone

  4. Nora Barnard

    These are all fine traits. Be honest without being RUDE is really important. Delivery is everything. Being kind is very important. For example, if you are impatient and tell someone to get to the point, that is plain selfish and rude.

Leave a Reply