Every strong woman run’s the risk of being misunderstood.
Unfortunately, without even realizing they often embody certain traits and behaviors that have the potential to be daunting.
Their natural passion and power can unnerve people.
This article explores the ways a strong woman intimidates others, without even meaning to.
1. Because of her authenticity
We get so used to people faking it, that authenticity can be a bit scary.
Every woman who refuses to bow to pressure and dances to the beat of her own drum is bound to intimidate at some point.
Authenticity might include:
- Standing up for what you believe in
- Being prepared to go against the grain
- Speaking out when you see injustice or wrongdoing
- Living by your own set of values
- Refusing to fall into people pleasing
- Expressing yourself in your own way
Being true to who you are isn’t easy, which is why it’s a sign of a strong woman.
It takes real vulnerability to say ‘I am what I am’.
But whenever someone is prepared to reveal themselves to the world, not everyone will like what they see.
In a world where fitting in can feel like the order of the day, originality can be pretty intimidating.
2. When she gives feedback
A friend of mine recently told me that she was worried she isn’t nice enough at work.
How can this be, I questioned.
After all, this is the same thoughtful and considerate woman who I value so much for all of her kindness.
On further investigation, it seems she’d been chastising herself in true strong-woman fashion.
She’d mistaken giving clear and appropriate feedback to colleagues as somehow not being nice.
And that’s because she could tell that some of her colleagues find her upfront approach pretty intimidating.
For sure, bluntly spewing out home truths to people with little consideration of how they will land isn’t great. But that’s far from what she’s been doing.
Being able to communicate what is and isn’t working is a vital skill for growth — especially in the workplace.
Some strong women will intimidate others because they are able to give this sort of feedback.
The reality is that honesty isn’t always comfortable — for the giver or the receiver.
But it’s a genuine sign of strength of character for that very reason.
3. By “scaring off” certain guys
I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed this one when dating:
If you’re dealing with a boy and not a man, strong women can be pretty intimidating.
Not letting bad behavior slide, and voicing what you do (and don’t) want can all feel a bit too much for some guys.
So does that mean we should actively try to be less intimidating for fear of scaring men away?
Not according to columnist Maria Del Russo. She explained in Refinery 29, her solution has been to reframe her intimidating status:
“Don’t stop being intimidating. Just stop dating people who call you intimidating. They suck…I’d love to say that I woke up one day and realized all of this on my own. But actually, it was my therapist who offhandedly made the connection that the qualities I liked best about myself were the ones that were intimidating to the men I was dating.”
Put it this way ladies, sometimes you scare off exactly the type of guy you need to be scaring off!
4. By upholding firm boundaries
Simply hearing “no” can be pretty intimidating to some people.
You run the risk of being seen as difficult or awkward when you decline to do something you don’t want to do.
Having been defined and labeled as the caregivers in society for so long, women in particular often struggle with the thought of disappointing others.
When a woman comes along and makes her boundaries crystal clear it can be a shock to the system.
Of course, the people in life who fail to set boundaries are sadly the ones who get walked all over.
But those who are on the receiving end when a strong woman draws a line in the sand aren’t always going to like it, that’s for sure.
5. Through her success
In an ideal world, we’d celebrate each other’s successes.
But in the real world, it isn’t that simple.
Envy and jealousy can creep in. As too can inadequacy and feelings of inferiority.
And when you put all that together it means there is always going to be someone who wants you to dim your light because it shines too brightly.
A healthy dose of competitiveness can spur some people on. But for others, it leaves them feeling bitter and resentful.
Strong women can create waves when they have a go-get-em ambitious attitude.
Because that sort of drive and competence often brings with it success and accomplishment.
Sadly, that can be hard for some people to swallow.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why research has found that when women are the main family breadwinners, neither partner likes to admit it.
It’s just one of the subconscious ways a successful woman can intimidate without even meaning to, as the author of “When She Makes More”, Farnoosh Torabi, explains:
“Our intelligent mind tells us that there should be no difference whether a man or a woman makes more, but when it actually plays out, a lot of deep-rooted, emotional issues surface.”
6. Voicing her opinions
Ever since a young age, I’ve always told people what I thought.
I’ve been quick to share my opinions and ideas. I enjoy getting others’ perspectives and discussing different approaches.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that this can be super unpopular too.
Whilst some like-minded strong people equally get a kick out of debate, others find it incredibly threatening.
I think this is why:
Some people become overly identified with their own ideas and opinions to the extent that they can’t step back.
So when a strong woman comes along and gives her opinion freely, they can’t handle it.
If it doesn’t match up with their own, they feel like it’s an attack on them.
Of course, this wasn’t the intention.
But it’s the reason why an opinionated woman is always going to potentially intimidate without meaning to.
In fact, if you’re a woman who intimidates others without meaning to, you’ll probably relate to our video below on the 10 signs you’re a badass woman that people can’t help but admire.
7. By showing her emotions
Showing vulnerability is a real sign of strength.
But sometimes when it’s put into practice it can unsettle people who prefer to ignore, repress or brush under the carpet their emotions.
Let’s face it:
Expressing anger, disappointment, and sadness makes some people squirm.
One time I was dating someone who behaved pretty badly by effectively standing me up one night.
When he got in touch to make his excuses, I decided that I’d be vulnerable enough to let him know that his actions had hurt my feelings.
It took a lot of courage for me to reveal how I really felt. Part of me wanted to try and save face by making out it was no big deal or by simply ignoring him.
But the stronger part of me knew that it was important to be truthful about how I was feeling.
The guy was clearly taken aback and seemed daunted by my emotional honesty.
Although to his credit, several months later he did get in touch to apologize for how he’d reacted.
I wished him well and said it was ok.
Because the truth is that I was already well aware that showing your emotions as a strong woman can be intimidating.
8. Through her inner confidence
Confidence shines through in so many ways. But confidence can be intimidating.
When a strong woman walks into a room with her head held high, her shoulders pushed back, and wearing a smile on her face she gives off a certain signal.
That signal is that she is happy with who she is.
Inner confidence is really attractive in people. But it can make us scared to approach someone too.
Rather than be a reflection of you, it’s actually a reflection of their own insecurity.
Inner confidence comes with some remarkable side effects.
The more confident you are the freer you are from self-doubt and negative thinking.
As a consequence, this often makes you bolder and less anxious in social situations.
Some people may misread this confidence as arrogance. Others will simply feel threatened by it because they don’t feel worthy. Whilst some people even find someone else’s confidence threatens their own ego.
9. Through her independence
Strong women are usually pretty self-sufficient.
They know how to look after themselves.
They don’t need to rely on others to get things done, because they are fully capable of doing things for themselves.
So strong women aren’t needy or clingy.
They enjoy their own company and can crave their own space.
But independence can be unsettling for people who like to feel needed.
For those who build their sense of self by being relied upon, a strong independent woman makes them feel somewhat redundant.
Much like the point above, this comes down to the other person’s insecurity more than anything else.
To conclude: Being intimidating can be a good thing
You can be intimidating for all the wrong reasons or all the right reasons.
Here’s what I mean:
Obviously, If you’re a bit of a tyrant, you’re totally unreasonable and you behave badly —then you’re intimidating in all the wrong ways.
But as we’ve seen, a lot of what others can find intimidating about strong women is linked to some very positive attributes.
Things like their intellect, their sense of humor, their outspoken communication, and their capable nature.
So if you fall into this category, then pat yourself on the back and wear your intimidating status with pride.