10 signs you’re scaring people off because of your unique personality

Have you ever wondered if that weird, nervous vibe you sometimes get from people is because they’re intimidated by you?

Seems absurd, right? 

It’s not like you’re trying to alienate people or anything like that. You’re just a strong-willed person with big opinions and a personality to match. 

And I, for one, celebrate that. I don’t believe anyone should diminish themselves so that “smaller” people’s comfort is ensured. 

I’ll take authenticity over mediocrity every single time.  

In fact, a little intimidation can be advantageous at times, but moderation is key so we don’t drift over into Bully Territory. 

Obviously, it’s impossible to know what someone really thinks of you. But they usually leave some clue as to what they’re thinking. 

To give you a starting point, here are ten reasons why people might be intimidated by your strong personality. 

1) Your independence is off-putting 

If you take care of yourself and make all your own decisions, you don’t need, or want,  anyone else to help you to get things done.

Most people will admire your self-sufficiency, while also thinking you come on a bit too strong.

Picture this scene: every year when my kids were small I had a Christmas party at my house. I micromanaged everything, but my friends knew I was a control freak and loved me anyway.

This super-adorable tendency of mine to rule with an iron candy cane may not have gone over so well in a corporate setting, where my actions easily could’ve been interpreted as autocratic and bossy. 

2) You’re perceived as unapproachable

People with formidable personalities simply ooze self-confidence. However, there are those people who will interpret your self-assuredness as being standoffish.

This is probably not true of course, but in a world where passive-aggressiveness and fake smiles are the accepted societal norms, authenticity is often perceived as intimidating.

If people tend to hesitate before they approach you, or the conversation trails off when you enter a room, you may have a reputation for being, well, scary.

You have to decide if you’re willing to water yourself down for the comfort of others on a case-by-case basis. 

For a client, yes. For a sibling, nope.  

3) Suffering fools gladly isn’t in your vocabulary

As a strong-willed human, you probably value your time and energy and are loath to waste either.

You would rather have meaningful conversations over small talk, or, heaven forbid, idle gossip. You’re not known for your patience with trifles or nonsense.

While this approach is genuine and authentically you, it might also be unintentionally pushing others away.

Consider this: if everyone who encounters you feels like they must be on their best behavior all the time, they might pull away because they fear being judged.

The trick here is balance.

Showing the people whose company you enjoy that you can chill out and just have a few laughs will make you more approachable and less formidable.

Letting your guard down on occasion (around people you feel comfortable with) won’t make you fake or soft. 

It’s probably good for you now and again, as long as you don’t feel like you’re compromising your sense of self.

4) People clam up around you 

That deafening silence you hear is people clamming up in the presence of realness. It’s so rare nowadays that people simply don’t know how to react to it.

And if you are blessed with a strong personality, you value honesty and forth tightness above all else.

You get straight to the point and call things as you see them. Life’s too short to hem and haw over anything. You prefer to make a decision and stick to it.

If you ask me, this is a desirable trait and eliminates a lot of potential misunderstandings. But it may come off as unduly harsh to some people.

5) Your unshakeable values intimidate people

Strong-willed individuals usually hold strong opinions and don’t care who knows it. So, sometimes they may intimidate those with lesser convictions.

You may have a natural tendency to take the lead in conversation with your usual self-assuredness, but you could unintentionally stifle the ideas of the others participating in the discussion.

More timid individuals may be hesitant to share their thoughts with you for fear of sparking an uncomfortable debate with you. 

Your direct, no-holds-barred style of communication can be misconstrued as arrogance or even rudeness.

Strong people with the courage of their convictions can inadvertently cause others to feel insecure, so try to tone it down a bit.

Or not. You make the call about what’s tolerable for you and why.

6) Everyone’s too nice

Who doesn’t appreciate a nice person?

Well, myself for one, because I don’t think there’s anything more offensive than fake niceties.  

And when it gets to the point where it’s vomit-inducing, it’s probably motivated by fear that you might start dropping truth bombs and make everyone uncomfortable.

If you have the reputation of being a straight shooter who doesn’t mince or sugarcoat your words, you might find yourself on the receiving end of this type of “niceness.”

After all, many folks would rather pretend to be pleasant just to keep the peace.

Aren’t you glad you’re not one of them? 

7) Your blunt honesty freaks people out

If you’re lucky enough to have a strong-willed personality, honesty is one of your most admirable qualities. 

You’re a firm believer in speaking your mind and following through on your words. However, your blunt approach can be a bit much for the more delicate souls. 

Some people prefer fake smiles and superficial interactions over just getting to the darn point. 

Weird, right? 

8) People are frightened of your intensity

Let’s face it. You’re passionate about everything you do. If you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t be doing it, as strong-willed people hate to waste their time and energy. 

Your intensity can be inspiring to many people, but some may find your passion overwhelming.

Not everyone can match or even tolerate your level of intensity, so make an effort to read the room the next time you get fired up. 

If you’re so inclined, that is. I know better than to try to order around a strong-willed person. 

9) You have no “off” button 

Remember the Energizer battery bunny that just kept going and going and going? Or am I dating myself again?

Either way, you’re the human embodiment of a very successful marketing campaign. 

We know how awesome it is to be driven, but your lack of an “off” switch can be exhausting or even overwhelming for those who lack that relentless drive to keep moving.

They simply can’t keep up, so have mercy on them. And yourself, for that matter. 

It’s OK to power down sometimes, in fact, that’s a good time to recharge your batteries 

Embrace the occasional moment of tranquility. Allow yourself to chill, enjoy your friends, and just “be.”

You might even find you enjoy it, especially when you remind yourself you can go back to slaying tomorrow.

10) Your penchant for perfectionism scares people 

You hold yourself to high standards which usually yields excellent outcomes.  

But your perfectionism scares people off, especially if they fear you’re holding them to your very exacting standards. 

They’ll likely find you intimidating (there’s that word again) and make them feel pressured or inadequate. People in your life may struggle to meet your expectations which could stress them out big time.

Try to go easy on them. Not many people are equipped to keep up with you, and that’s OK. 

Final thoughts

Personally, I usually avoid people and situations that require a diminished, water-down version of myself. 

I don’t expect other people to change their personalities to suit my comfort level, nor do I appreciate that expectation being thrust upon me.  

However, we all have to coexist together, and meeting people in the middle obviously makes this easier. 

Just be careful not to lose your sense of self along the way. But since you’re a strong-willed person, that’s not a likely scenario any way you slice it.

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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