Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is everybody avoiding me?”, “Why is everyone so stiff in this office?” or “Am I the baddie?”
If so, I have some good and bad news for you.
The good news is you might have a strong personality, and the bad news is that’s why everyone’s afraid of you at work.
Let’s see what other signs show your strong personality is intimidating others at work.
1) Coworkers avoid you
Perhaps the first and most obvious sign is that your coworkers are avoiding or even ignoring you. They keep their interactions very brief and only talk about work topics in those few sentences you “squeeze out” of them.
Besides, if you notice that your colleagues often chat or joke around with each other but not with you, it could mean they’re intimidated.
They might also frequently gather for social activities or informal outings, but you’re consistently left out.
If your armpits smell good, that’s a clear sign they feel uneasy or intimidated by your strong personality. This exclusion may suggest a desire to avoid potential conflicts or confrontations.
2) Everyone is reluctant to collaborate
In addition, if you’re often the last person chosen for team projects or coworkers seem hesitant to work with you, it might be because they feel intimidated.
Another sign is that when you are part of a project or a work assignment, they go over your head and talk to your supervisor or a higher-level manager instead of you.
Obviously, they don’t want to work with you directly. Or at all. They look for excuses not to share work with you.
I’d ask myself what the reason for that could be. Was I too assertive in the past? Do I get too pushy with my ideas and dismiss everyone else’s?
3) Resistance to your ideas
Another thing I’ve seen happen in some workplaces is that people push back or strongly resist an individual’s ideas.
If you notice people seem overly critical of your ideas, it may be because they’re responding more to your strong personality than to the ideas themselves.
Actively listen to others, create a safe space for diverse opinions and value contributions from all team members.
Acknowledge the contributions of others and ensure that credit is given where credit’s due.
And lastly, work on developing your interpersonal skills, such as active listening, empathy, and effective communication. These can help you connect with others on a deeper level, ease any unintended intimidation, and build stronger collaborative relationships.
4) Colleagues rarely ask for your help or input
Another clear sign people are intimidated by you is that they rarely approach you for advice or assistance, even if you’re an expert in the area.
If you’ve noticed this happening, it’s got to hurt. Obviously, you have some of the best skills in your workplace. But why does no one want to utilize them more?
Think about past projects and see what might be preventing people from asking for your advice or help. There might be some clues there.
You might care deeply about this next sign, or you could be pleased it’s happening. Still, it stings, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself.
5) You’re often excluded from informal gatherings
If you notice your colleagues frequently gather for social activities in or after work, but you’re consistently left out, it could be a sign that they feel uneasy or intimidated by your strong personality.
This exclusion typically suggests they want to avoid potential conflicts or confrontations.
You might just be too opinionated for people to hang out with you in informal settings like “happy hour” at your local watering hole.
Think about that for a moment.
6) Silence during meetings
Does it seem like your words fall on deaf ears in meetings? Does the room fall silent, or do people tend not to express their ideas and feedback after you’ve shared your thoughts during meetings?
That’s always tough, isn’t it? You feel like your notes, talking points, or ideas are too good for this company and your coworkers. They just don’t get them.
Plus, if you tend to dominate discussions, frequently speaking at length or with high intensity, others may feel there’s little room for their ideas or opinions.
Your Type A personality might be overwhelming for them.
Keep an eye on your tone of voice. If you tend to speak in a highly assertive or intense manner, people will feel overwhelmed or overpowered, resulting in them not wanting to contribute to the discussion.
7) Lack of engagement on shared platforms
But it’s not just meetings that are the problem. In a remote work environment, if you notice a sudden drop in engagement after your posts or comments on shared platforms like Slack, Teams, etc., it could suggest that colleagues find even your virtual communication style intimidating.
Dial it down a notch. Be respectful in talking to your coworkers remotely and look at your messages from different angles.
It’s a well-known fact that text messages and emails can be misconstrued. What you might think are perfectly normal messages, others might find disrespectful, demeaning, and even downright harmful.
“Why haven’t you finished this yet?”
While you may intend this message as a simple inquiry about the status of a task, the recipient might perceive it as an accusatory or impatient tone, feeling criticized or pressured.
“We need to talk. It’s urgent.”
The recipient might interpret this message as alarming or intimidating, especially without any context or further explanation. They may feel anxious or worried about what the conversation will bring to them, assuming the worst.
8) People are quick to agree
Another sign of intimidation is when people unusually quickly agree with your ideas or suggestions, without much discussion or consideration. They may be, in fact, trying to avoid confrontation.
No one wants to challenge an intimidating and strong personality.
However, the big picture is that without a range of opinions, you, the team, and the company may miss out on valuable insights and creative solutions.
A quick agreement can stifle creativity and innovation and limit collective brainstorming and problem-solving opportunities.
You should explicitly invite diverse opinions and encourage team members to challenge (your) ideas respectfully. Emphasize that disagreement isn’t personal but a way to explore different perspectives and arrive at the best possible solutions.
9) Lack of openness
Some people don’t like listening to their coworkers’ problems and learning about their lives.
Still, if people don’t share personal stories, experiences, or thoughts around you as they do with other colleagues, that might be another sign they’re uncomfortable due to your strong personality.
They fear you won’t respond with sympathy or that you could use their information against them in the future. You’re a wildcard to them.
Additionally, a strong personality often seems unapproachable or intimidating, leading people to keep their interactions strictly professional to avoid potential conflict or discomfort.
People worry that you’ll see personal conversations as a sign of unprofessionalism or even weakness.
10) Coworkers’ body language is off
Think for a moment of non-verbal cues from your colleagues, such as crossed arms, tense body language, excessive fidgeting, or avoiding eye contact when interacting with you. There could also be excessive formality or stiffness in interactions.
Did you notice any of them?
If others seem nervous, too formal, or overly polite around you, it could be a sign of discomfort or intimidation in your presence.
You’re like a great white shark circling a dingy little boat.
Consider adopting a more approachable demeanor, actively inviting input from others, and displaying sympathy and understanding during your interactions.
11) Surprised or anxious reactions all around
I had a coworker with such a strong approach that people were frequently surprised or anxious about their comments or actions.
It was funny to me because I knew him better than others did. He was indeed a softy. He just had an issue with expressing himself appropriately.
Your communication style or mannerisms could also be perceived as too assertive or forceful.
This causes others to feel caught off guard or anxious, as they don’t anticipate the intensity or directness of your interactions.
12) Your boss rarely talks to you
And lastly, your strong personality could also be intimidating to your boss or manager. You have such a strong presence that they intentionally limit their interactions with you to avoid confrontations or disagreements.
They perceive your strong personality as challenging or fierce and choose to maintain distance to minimize potential conflicts or power struggles.
You’re like a first officer on a ship, ready to instigate a mutiny against the captain and take over the whole thing. In their eyes, at least.
If you’ve noticed some things I’ve mentioned above, you may have some more introspection ahead of you.
If you want to change, strike a balance between expressing your strong personality and creating an environment where others feel comfortable engaging with you.
By being mindful of others, actively seeking feedback, and encouraging open communication, you can soothe any potential intimidation and cultivate a more productive work environment.