9 signs you give off intimidating vibe, according to psychology

We can learn a lot from psychology.

In fact, by studying psychology and understanding the insights it has to offer, we can get to know ourselves better and to figure out what really makes us tick. We can also start to understand how we’re perceived by other people.

We’ll be building on that in today’s article by taking a look at the signs that could suggest that we give off an intimidating vibe. Let’s dive on in and get started.

1) You don’t smile much

As human beings, we naturally notice when people smile. In fact, this is why politicians, celebrities and other people in the public eye make sure that they’re smiling in every photo.

When people smile, we see them as friendly and approachable. The converse is also true, so if people don’t smile then we can perceive them as stern, unfriendly and aloof.

There are times when this can be a good thing. If you’re about to take part in a boxing match, for example, then you won’t want to greet your opponent with a wink and a smile.

But if you’re trying not to be seen as intimidating or you’re worried about how people think of you in social situations, perhaps you should consider smiling a little more.

2) You don’t like making eye contact

The first thing to say here is that I don’t like making eye contact either. A lot of people don’t.

But whether we like it or not, the unfortunate truth is that people expect it. And without that eye contact, we can come across as intimidating at best and downright untrustworthy at worst.

A lot of research has been carried out into the psychology of eye contact, but the general idea is that the eyes are the windows to the soul. We look into people’s eyes to get a feel for their humanity.

All of this means that if you avoid making eye contact with people, they’ll be left with a sour taste in their mouths. It’s as if they held out their hand and you refused to shake it.

3) You don’t use small talk much

Small talk is one of those things that society expects of us, regardless of how we feel about it.

Some people thrive on small talk and can happily chat about the weather, weekend plans and the latest celebrity scandal for hours on end. For other people, the very idea is enough to give them chills.

I belong to that second group and I’m definitely not a fan of small talk, but I also understand why people place so much emphasis on it. Like a roller-skating elephant, it breaks the ice.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you’re determined to come across as less intimidating, practicing and perfecting small talk is probably the best thing you can do.

4) You’re super critical of other people

If you get a reputation for constantly criticizing other people, you’re soon going to find yourself gaining an unpleasant reputation.

All of a sudden, people will avoid spending time with you because they’ll feel as though if they do, you’re just going to criticize them. They definitely won’t want to work with you.

The thing with criticism is that it can be super useful when people ask for it. The key is to make sure that you only offer criticism when you’re asked for your input.

You can also practice the sandwich concept, by starting and ending with a compliment and slipping the criticism in between.

5) You’re hyper judgmental

If you’re super critical of other people, that’s probably because you’re hyper judgmental.

And so as you can tell, this point tends to go hand-in-hand with the last one. The difference is that when you’re hyper judgmental, you don’t always make it as obvious to people as it is when you outright criticize them.

This can lead to people thinking that you give off intimidating vibes but finding it difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that gives them that feeling. They don’t necessarily know that you’re judgmental, but they can tell that something’s off.

Oh, and if you’re judgmental then there’s a reasonably good chance that you’re prejudiced. After all, that just means that you pre-judge people.

6) You’re controlling

If you’re the kind of person who likes to be in control, you’ll soon start to intimidate the people around you.

And it’s pretty easy to see why that might be. Let’s say you’re in a social situation and the group you’re with is trying to decide where to go for a drink. If you’re so controlling that you have to be the one who decides where to go, you’re likely to intimidate the others.

It also goes without saying that this isn’t going to make you popular, but a lot of people would rather have their way than be popular.

Just make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into and the likelihood of people responding negatively to your controlling behavior.

7) You’re unpredictable

If you’re unpredictable and people find it hard to judge how you might behave in any given situation, it stands to reason that people will be intimidated by you.

That’s because we feel comfortable around people that we know well and who act predictably and consistently. The converse is also true, and so when someone is unpredictable, we feel on edge and uncomfortable.

Unpredictable people also tend to be intimidating because they can lash out at any moment and switch through emotions at the drop of a hot.

That leaves us feeling intimidated by them because we don’t want to become a target.

8) You show a lack of patience

Impatient people tend to be intimidating because we’re very aware of the fact that everything we do risks testing their patience.

When we’re confronted by impatient people, they’ll often push us to hurry up and say what we have to say or to do what we have to do. That’s all well and good when we’re in a rush, but it’s super off-putting when there’s no need for people to be impatient.

If you’re impatient, you risk giving off an intimidating vibe purely because people feel as though you’ve got no time for them.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why people who don’t use small talk tend to give off an intimidating vibe. You have to be patient to use small talk without going crazy.

9) You belittle the efforts of others

If you regularly belittle the efforts of other people, coming across as intimidating is the least of your worries.

That’s because the vast majority of people will see this belittlement as negativity, selfishness and self-centeredness. There’s that old idea that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything.

Now, it’s true that belittling people might make you come across as intimidating, but it’s rarely in a good way. Instead, people will say things like, “I don’t want to work with him, he’ll throw me under the bus at the first opportunity.”

And of course, you also open yourself up to the potential of reciprocation. People will start to belittle your efforts in return.


Now that you know some of the signs that could suggest that you give off an intimidating vibe, it’s over to you to decide what to do about it.

It could be that you want to be seen as intimidating, in which case you can relax because you know whether you’ve accomplished your mission or not. But if you want to be seen as more approachable and you tick a lot of these boxes, you might have problems.

We haven’t covered how you can try to counteract all of these factors, but it’s fairly self-explanatory and the first step is always diagnosis.

And so now it’s time for you to figure out whether you’re going to change or whether you’re going to keep on doing more of the same. Whichever option you go with, just remember that it’s your choice and no one else’s. Good luck.

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

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