How To Know If You’re Unintentionally Intimidating Your Coworkers

Intimidation isn’t as good a motivator as people once believed.

Various studies have shown that all intimidation really accomplishes is a culture of fear in the workplace. This culture of fear then eats away at productivity, as workers would rather remain silent when they notice a problem and try their hardest to shift as much blame away from themselves as possible. It certainly beats reporting to an angry superior who will just make your life miserable. The most negative consequences start to take hold once workers realize that their superiors can “get away with it”.

It is now well known that authoritarian leadership results in an environment where dialogue, complaints and suggestions are considered futile among workers, resulting in a loss of productivity. If you’re worried whether or not you are intimidating in the workplace, your self-consciousness may suggest that you’re doing a better job than millions of superiors in the workforce. Here are a few signs that you are intimidating to your colleagues:

  1. They don’t make eye contact with you. Eye contact caries a special significance in behavioral psychology and it can reveal a lot about any specific situation. If your colleagues are avoiding eye contact with you and they’re not especially shy, it’s probably because they find you intimidating.
  2. They maintain protective body language. This is harder to discern than eye contact, but if you’re paying attention, the signs are clear. Crossed arms, physical distance, or turning their body (along with their eyes) away from you are all examples of protective body language. These are signs of fear, whereas the opposite of any of these three behaviors are positive signs.
  3. They don’t have much to say around you. If your colleagues become more quiet than usual around you, they probably find you intimidating.
  4. They fidget around you. Many people have nervous habits, but if people start playing with their hands, biting their lips, and so forth when you’re around, they’re likely intimidated.
  5. Lastly, if you have open office hours but find yourself alone, it could be because you’re intimidating. Unless your workplace is flawless, your colleagues are likely going to someone else in the office when they need help and it might be because they’re intimidated by you.
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