#3 Intimidating Others

Most leaders want to be approachable, yet many of us unknowingly put people off. In fact, if you are a leader, someone will inevitably be intimidated by you.  We’re in a series entitled Five Top Leadership Blind Spots. You can read my previous articles about the first two blind spots: Being the Exception and Needing to be Right. This third blind spot is especially precarious because intimidation ruins relationships.


Well, guess what? Usually, others won’t tell you that you are intimidating because you are intimidating. Thankfully, there have been a few people who have said that I come across unapproachable at times. For me, that hurts. I want people to like me. I want to be the person people feel comfortable hanging around. But I have learned a few things in my own life that make me less approachable. Here are the culprits and a few things I’m doing to help!

  1. An aggressive tone of voice. Often it isn’t what I say, but how I say it. When I give a quick, firm response, it comes across that I don’t value the person nor their ideas. The key is to slow down and listen. Eric Geiger says that we simply underestimate the power of our position. He writes, “Every word from the mouth of a leader is received with amplified impact, so leaders who bring sharp critiques to their teams must do so very carefully.” If the leader thinks the rebuke is a ‘5,’ the people likely hear it as an “8.’” We have to watch our words. Slow down and be less assertive.
  1. Not being friendly. This may sound too simple, but failing to say “hello” and smiling can give the wrong impression. People deserve our attention. I don’t like to chitchat. I like to stay on task and move on. However, being in a rush never builds friendships. The more personable you are, the less people are going to be nervous around you. So I try to relax and smile more!
  1. Criticism or Silence. Both saying too much and not saying anything can separate you from others. I’ve done both. Someone said that any advice that isn’t asked for comes across as criticism. Being an armchair quarterback way comes way to easy for me. Criticizing nor clamming up doesn’t solve anything. I have to remind myself that anyone can share what is wrong with something. Stay away from sarcasm and put-downs. It takes a good leader to encourage and make a positive difference.
  1. Shutting someone down. There are times when I just think I’m right. I fail to take the time to consider another perspective. This is a problem, not only because it offends others, it discourages further contribution and sharing. Simply put, we turn people off along with their input in the future. Instead, ask for feedback. Let others know that you are okay with them disagreeing with you. Work on not being defensive.


So, what else do you find that intimidates others? Love to hear from you! Next week we’ll look at the fourth blind spot: Avoidances!





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