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I Didn’t Mean to Intimidate You is No Excuse


Position intimidates. High titles inspire fear. Your right to tell others no creates unease.

Intimidation is easy, even if you don’t mean to.

  1. Combine silence with frowns.
  2. Keep people in the dark.
  3. Stand over and cross your arms.
  4. Don’t smile. Stare. Never laugh.
  5. Get angry, hold grudges, and get even.
  6. Remain distant and aloof.

Intentional Intimidators:

  1. Use fear to get what they want.
  2. Create emotional barriers.
  3. Focus on what but neglect how.

Leadership by intimidation is quick and easy. Unintentional intimidators, however, get what they want and lose what they need.

A More excellent way:

Lower intimidation – elevate influence.

Leadership by influence, rather than intimidation, is noble but messy.

Influence requires connection.

#1. Embrace your position and power.

Unwillingness to acknowledge the perception of others prevents you from dealing with unintended intimidation. You’ve been told you intimidate people. But, you brushed it off. “No I don’t.”

You may think you’re a pussy cat but you’re not.

#2. Practice vulnerability:

  1. Shine a light on unintended intimidation. Tell people you’ve heard you’re intimidating. Ask for suggestions on eliminating intimidation.
  2. Tell stories about your failures and success.
  3. Explain intentions up front. Let others know what you want early in conversations. Don’t make them wonder.
  4. Lay out your concerns about projects or people with optimism.

#3. Seek their best interests:

The door of influence opens when others believe you seek their best interests.

#4. Basic Tips:

  1. Develop comfort with yourself. Your discomfort with you makes others uncomfortable.
  2. Interact while walking, driving, or eating.
  3. Smile more.
  4. Sit at the side of the conference table rather than the head or foot.
  5. Relax. Intensity combined with position intimidates.

Unintended intimidation always exists if you have position or power. Diligently work to eliminate intimidation. “I don’t mean to,” is no excuse for unintended manipulation.

More: “The Pussy Cat Problem

How can leaders overcome unintended intimidation?

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