Are you easily intimidated?

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I have been thinking about intimidation for a while and wonder why it is felt by some so much more than others. Does it derive from bullying and criticism in your childhood years; perhaps a peer at school, your parents or a teacher that enjoyed making you feel awkward/humiliated/confused?

Those same children grow into adults who appear to carry the stamp of intimidation. They do not feel at ease to put forward their opinion and shy away from any form of confrontation even when it is to their own detriment.

Feelings of intimidation can be rather crippling if it becomes a hindrance in your life. It can prevent you from taking opportunities when they are presented to you for fear of failing, having to associate with others more senior/academic/ respected than you.

Can a person truly learn to remove intimidation from their life or at the very least, minimise it?

I can touch on one experience. In my second full-time job, around 15 years ago, I worked with a Finance Director. He was a stern “no nonsense” type. He would walk into my office which I shared with a few colleagues, stand over my desk and expect me to end my face to face or telephone conversation there and then. I remember feeling utterly intimidated by his presence and I struggled to give him eye contact – in fact I did not give him eye contact! In my eyes, he was ultra senior and I was a recent graduate in a junior role. My line manager who I cannot sing her praises enough, told me as a matter of fact;

“Phoenicia, you need to give the directors eye contact. Failure to do this will result in them not respecting you.”

Ooh it was harsh but I needed to hear it. With time (I am talking years), I forced myself to look people in the eye – no matter who they were. Every part of my body flinched as I did it but it became like a second nature. It was my manager’s advice that led me to take action. I did not want to be “that” person who gave off an air of timidity, over sensitivity, fragility whenever people met me. My feelings still exist now as they did then but now I own them.

Intimidation does not need to continue to have a hold over your life. You can identify where the intimidation derived from and work on improving confidence in yourself and your abilities. Only then will you feel on par with others. Only then will you acknowledge you have something to offer this world.

If you suffer from intimidation, have you pinpointed why and are you working towards conquering this area in your life?
Do you feel you can change or even want to?

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19 thoughts on “Are you easily intimidated?”

  1. I know people who have used intimidation their whole lives, they had it as kids, and now are bosses who use it.
    I often know, if you realize this intimidation is not about you, but about their own insecurities, then you can overcome them.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I have the same issue too! I also find it really hard to look at people in the eye, especially when they’re professionally higher up than me. It used to be really bad, but ever since I took part in a Church retreat that increased my self-confidence, it’s gotten a lot better although it’s undeniably still a work in progress. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  3. Phoenicia, in my childhood I used to be easily be intimidated by even my elder uncle, but now I have come past that phase of my life 🙂

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  4. This is also a tough issue for me. It’s not easy when you can be a naturally can sensitive person as well. It is best to learn who bought you are and create strategies on how to deal with intimation.

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  5. Excellent topic and an issue many people struggle with. I can tell you from personal experience it’s a lot more complicated than early experiences. I was bullied through much of high school. I eventually pushed back but that feeling of liberation that came with standing up for myself quickly morphed into serious anger issues which took several years to work through.

    So childhood aside, we also have to factor in our inherent personalities. More importantly, we need to keep in mind that while we may have had little control over our early life experiences, as adults it’s up to us to take responsibility for our choices and behavior.

    Great post, thanks for the inspiration!

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  6. The mentor I was assigned when I was a new teacher was very intimidating and she knew it. At first, she wanted me to be the same type of teacher that she was and try to rule with an iron fist, but I’m just not that type of person. I handled it by just not having much to do with her, but it’s hard to say if that was the best approach or not. After a year of minimal contact, I was deemed okay to not need a mentor during my second year.

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  7. Hi Phoenicia. I am not easily intimidated, and actually find it rude if people do not look me in the eye. Might it be a cultural thing that you were brought up in a home that did not look people in the eye as it was considered to be culturally incorrect? I know that the native Indigenous people here in Canada are that way. Many of them do not look people in the eye as it was not part of their culture. We need to be sensitive to people’s upbringings is we truly want to understand them.

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  8. Gosh, I could probably reach back and name a number of instances where I felt intimidated–and was the intimidater. I’m less proud of that second part for sure. You’re lucky to have had a manager speak so honestly with you and set you on the right course.

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  9. Donald Trump is a fantastic example of someone who is easily unnerved. In his case it has to do with low self esteem. He has for instance for decades tried to get accepted in better circles all over the world but always failed. Not even the Palm Beach crowd accepts him. Thankfully the president and I are different and I’m not only thick skinned but also have the background he lacks and hence don’t need to risk rejection like he had to. Maybe his self esteem would have been better if he had understood that you can’t buy lineage.

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