This may come as a surprise to you, but you may be intimidating others without realizing it. I know–you are probably responding to this claim with, “What? Me? There is no way I am intimidating!”  Following are four surprising ways that you may be intimidating others, and what you can do to prevent or at least minimize it:

1. You are mysterious: Some people are an open book. They freely share their thoughts, their opinions, stories about their personal lives, and so there is not a lot of ‘mystery’ there. However, if you tend to be a more private person, people may be intimidated by you just because they feel they really don’t know you. Early on in my career, I tried to keep everyone who worked with me at an arms length. I did not want them to know anything about me that was outside of my role at work. I actually liked the fact that I was mysterious, but learned later that the steel armor I was proud of wearing was not only preventing me from connecting with others, but some people actually found me to be intimidating. They did not take the time to try to get to know me because it took too much effort!

2. You are confident: You have your insecurities but perhaps you possess an uncanny ability that appears you have everything together on the outside. And that confident image that others see can be intimidating to those who lack confidence. They are comparing their feelings of insecurity to your confident outside image, and the comparison makes them feel even less confident. Couple this confidence with those of you who may be introverted, this can really be intimidating! See my video…A Word Of Caution For The Confident Introvert!

3. You are a dominant communicator: You are most likely very aware if you have a dominant behavior and communication style. According to psychologist William Marston, the father of DISC personality and behavioral styles, the D (dominant) style individual is the rarest of all four behavioral types. If you are direct, controlling, outgoing, communicate and move quickly, welcome a challenge and debate, your naturally wired style can be intimidating to others.

4. You are in authority: That’s right, just because you are in a role or position of authority, you may be intimidating to others. In my work with shy individuals, they commonly express to me that they are nervous to approach their manager to ask for help or with an inquiry, and even more intimidated to approach someone who is higher up in the organization. Some  are intimidated by people in certain prestigious positions such as doctors, and others are intimidated by those in prestigious circles celebrities. So keep in mind though you may be communicating in a warm and friendly manner, certain individuals will still be intimidated by you just because of your position or who you are as an individual.

If any of the above descriptions apply to you, becoming self-aware that you may be intimidating is the first step. You can minimize this intimidation by doing the following:

1. Always take the initiative. Go to the other person instead of expecting them to come to you. Start the conversation. Always!

2. Be friendly, open and down to earth. When communicating with the other person, let them get to know you as a person. Remove the mystery. Take time to slow down and ask them questions to show that you value them as a person.

3. Let them see your imperfections. Be vulnerable. Even share your doubts, insecurities and failures. Let them see that you are not perfect.

If you have ever been told that you are intimidating and it came as a surprise to you, I would love to hear your story and how you responded!