We have all met someone during the course of our lives who has been intimidating. As it is so widespread, many clients ask me how to deal with intimidation. Intimidating people try to get their way through aggressive behaviour. It is a learned behaviour that has rewarded them in the past. They may have witnessed a parent be intimidating and I have also seen cases where someone who was bullied as a child has become the aggressor in adult life.
Intimidating people use anger and aggressive behaviour to keep others at bay. Usually, intimidation works well for them. Most people dislike confilct and often don’t challenge someone who is intimidating. The key to dealing with intimidation is to react in a way that the aggressor doesn’t expect.
How to deal with intimidation
An intimdating person wants you to cower. They want to see your react with fear or retreat in some way. Their anger is a cover-up for their own inadequacies. Intimidating people often feel they lack true power. They don’t know how to be assertive and aggression is their first line of defense. Don’t react when you feel intimidated. Stay calm and think before responding. Never match the aggressor’s anger, this will escalate the situation.
Stand your ground
Intimidation is a tactic to win through fear. Do not show fear or subservience to an intimidating person. This will give them the upper hand. Instead, repeat their request slowly. Ask them questions in a calm manner. Example: I see that you are angry right now, can we talk about this? Or “There is no need to shout at me, I can hear what you are saying”.
Acknowledge that you can see they are angry. You could also respond with feedback on how their intimidating behaviour is affecting you. “I am finding you quite intimidating right now, could we please talk about this calmly?”
Don’t give in to intimidation. As hard as it may be, stand your ground and be repetitive in your response. Example. “I hear what you are saying but this isn’t something we are going to agree on.”
Aggressor “you will have to agree on this, it’s non negotiable”
Repeat: “I don’t believe this is something we will agree on, we will have to compromise in some way.”
Be repetitive and don’t allow intimidation to wear you down.
The bark is often worse than the bite
When you refuse to give in to their intimidation, an aggressor will often change tactics. They respect someone who isn’t intimidated.They are more likely to back down when they realise that you will not give in. Show them that being aggressive isn’t going to make you change or give in to them.
Never take an intimidating person’s behaviour personally. It says more about them than it does about you.Intimidation suggests that a person has low self esteem, ultimately feels powerless underneath and does not have the skills to communicate assertively. Use this to your advantage by responding assertively. Being assertive is more likely to end in a win-win situation where both people’s needs are taken into consideration.
Intimidation comes from a place of weakness. A healthy balanced person does not need to intimidate others to get things done. Intimidation is a dysfunctional behaviour that has no place amongst mentally healthy, balanced individuals.