What Are The Characteristics Of An Intimidating Person?
Intimidation comes both from beliefs wired into us by evolution as well as beliefs that we create because of social experiences.
Physical elements of intimidation often stem from beliefs wired into use by biology. For example, studies have shown that increasing various elements of size in a human body typically lead to more intimidating perception. One study shows this in terms of simply increasing the face’s width to height ratio. This happens when you tilt your head up or down and it appears larger. This appearance makes someone appear more intimidating.
Psychological elements of intimidation often stem more from people’s perceptions or interpretations of what is happening. This means the first step is to figure out what a person fears and what their weaknesses are. People who are intimidating are often just better at either appearing intimidating or actually being physically harmful or mentally aggressive.
See the list below for some descriptions and characteristics of an intimidating person.
- Taking up more space by spreading yourself out or spreading the things you own out over an area. People who are more dominant and intimidating often move slower too. Muscle can be intimidating.
- Speaking loudly and with deeper tones. Verbal dominance in general is often a characteristic of intimidating people. They don’t need to make overt threats since they can often just poke at a person’s weakness to remind them why they should be intimidated.
- Displaying elements of social status like wealth, looks, or network.
- Intelligence can be extremely intimidating, especially in environments that require it to excel.
- Assertiveness is a trait often considered by itself to be intimidating. The same can be said with other elements of personality like confidence.
Displaying signs of dominance are often what intimidates people. But careful, we will discuss what signs of dominance are, but it is important to remember that focusing on developing resources and skills are the best ways to develop dominance. Then your body will start naturally doing these things. See this
for more. Keep in mind that some people break most of the ‘intimidation rules’ but are still considered formidable, intimidating, and dominant individuals because they have one single characteristic that intimidates people. See Elon Musk and his intelligence.
How To Develop An Intimidating Personality?
Developing an intimidating personality can be difficult, especially since personality itself doesn’t change much. You can however practice being more assertive, work on making fewer mistakes that make you seem less powerful, and pick up a few tricks. Improving both will give you a more intimidating personality.
For the assertiveness aspect, clarify your goals and don’t allow yourself to compromise on them. Practice assertiveness training in psychology. This simply means exposing yourself to slightly more frightening situations every day. It doesn’t have to be physically dangerous things. It can be psychologically scary things like talking to new people, standing up for yourself, speaking in public, or other activities that cause you to feel fear. If you can decrease the number of situations you fear and increase your ability to assert yourself, you will be seen as more intimidating.
There are also a few tricks that can make you seem more intimidating. These won’t change your personality but they will help you develop an outer shell that makes people think you are more intimidating. First speak less. Speaking more makes people more comfortable with you because you are less of an unknown. Second try doing random things that keep people off balance. If you take away people’s sense of predictability and control you can be seen as more intimidating. Finally, studies have shown that people who disagree are seen as more formidable or competent. Practice playing devil’s advocate whenever someone makes an argument.
How Do You Intimidate Someone?
In general intimidation comes when someone feels threatened. The best way to threaten someone is to figure out what they want and fear in life. Take away what they want and give them what they fear. See the Psychological Intimidation Tactics below.
Psychological Intimidation Tactics
- Eye contact can activate the fight or flight system in certain personalities.
- Things that make a person appear larger can increase intimidation. This means good posture and working out.
- Disagree more. Practice playing the devil’s advocate. Question why they think what they think.
- Eliminate fear and anxiety through exposure therapy.
- Speaking aggressively, loudly, deeply, and slowly can increase the perception of dominance.
- Move slowly.
- Isolate the person you want to intimidate.
- Raise the steaks. People are going to be more intimidated when the negotiation or meeting is about their livelihoods rather than if it is about the color they want for their office door.
- Gain the traits or skills valued by the group and display them.
How Do You Deal With Psychological Intimidation Tactics?
The best way to deal with such tactics is to either leave or stand up for yourself. If the interactions are unavoidable, or the reward for winning high enough, it is best to fight back. If you let someone intimidate you once with out reprisal, you will have a hard time ever getting equal footing with them again. See our article about domination for more information.
Fight back first by eliminating things that make you seem less dominant. Fix posture, tone, speech, and other issues. Then spend most of your time building leverage so you are in a more dominant position. This means gaining skills so you are more valuable at your job or practicing setting strong boundaries.
Next make sure you respond to the person immediately. This means either talking to them about how their behavior was unacceptable or responding with an attack of your own like an insult.
Is being intimidating a bad thing?
Being intimidating can be both a good and bad thing. It depends on what you want most, and to what degree you are intimidating.
If you want respect most, intimidation is usually a good thing. Just make sure you factor in the cost that some people won’t like you and could become resentful towards you. Intimidation can get you more power, more influence, more money, and more respect. All of these things can be extremely useful.
If you want friendship and connection most, intimidation probably isn’t a good strategy. Being intimidating will decrease the number of people who are willing to risk talking to and being your friend.
One useful way to approach the decision on how much to focus on intimidation is to ask yourself if you appear more friendly or more intimidating. People who appear less intimidating and are more friendly, and who think others don’t respect them, should probably focus on being more intimidating. Those who are more intimidating and have a harder time socially should focus on being more warm and less intimidating. Try being vulnerable with people.
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Intimidated By You?
Most sites would answer this question by telling you to watch various elements of body language. But body language science has problems, especially when applied in the field. The fact is that people are just not that simple.
Instead, here are a few tricks you can use that can help you spot if someone is intimidated by you.
- Eye contact may be a sign of intimidation. Or it may be a sign of disinterest or many other things.
- Cowering posture may be a sign of intimidation. Or it may just be a sign that the person is tired.
- Submissive behaviors and negative social comparison is related to shame, rumination, and depression.
- Nervousness and anxiety increase when people are lower on the dominance hierarchy. This might be a sign of intimidation if people appear more anxious around you.
An Important Note
It should be noted that these slightly improve intimidation and that the best ways to intimidate are to focus simply on having more resources and building leverage. Don’t major in the minors. See our article here for more on the most important things you can do to increase your personal power.