Intimidation can come in many forms. At its least, it's an irrational fear we build up based on our own self worth and at it's worst it can be emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse that can lead to severe depression and self harm! It can make us want to hide away and therefore, not fulfil our potential.
We've all been affected by a situation where we have felt intimidated and it can have a huge detrimental effect on how we progress in life as well as how we value ourselves. In either case, what we do under those circumstances really does depend on your self esteem and personal strength.
Below are some tips and ideas you can use to help you deal with intimidation.
Intimidating Situations - whether you are being asked to give a speech at a family function; you need to give a presentation to your group directors or; you are going to a networking event or social function, having to put yourself out there and/or stand up in front of people who you may deem as being more important than you can be very intimidating. Here's some ideas on how to handle these situations:
Focus on your strengths. We all have them and it's times like these that you need to remember who you are and not allow situations or people to define you. We all have skills, talents, experiences that we can call on to help us deal with particular situations and it's at these times when you find yourself in intimidating situations when you need to draw on those things and push yourself forward. If you are required to make speech, ensure you practice as much a possible. The more you feel good about what you have to say the easier it will be to deliver.
Be humourous! Now, I don't expect you to be a stand-up comedian here, but using some humour allows you to break the ice and hopefully people will let their guards down...including you. Think of questions or stories that you can tell relating to the last time you gave a talk or the worst networking event you have been to and why, but try to avoid belittling someone else because that isn't a good look! Stories always help a conversation move more fluidly and give the other person an opportunity to tell their own. The objective is to be memorable, in a genuine and honest way.
You are important too. Not everyone needs to like or love you and you don't need to measure up to those you think are 'more important' than you either - after all, they do a number 2 and break wind just like everyone else! You can only be who you are and if someone you are talking to feels the need to look down on you, it's most likely because they want to take the focus away from their own insecurities. People who are truly confident don't need to do that. They have had their struggles and they will be able to see through those who are not being authentic. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel confident so that you can walk with your head held high and hold your own in any situation.
Have fun. You never know when you will get the opportunity again, so make the most of it. First and foremost before all other labels are added we are human beings who all have had at some point their own issues and challenges that they have had to deal with in life. So just enjoy the ride. Every situation is temporary, but it can also give rise to new and exciting times ahead. Whether that is meeting someone that can help you move your career forward, finding a new friend or you being able to offer your own skills. Be open to the fun that may lay ahead.
Intimidating People - this is probably the more complicated of the two and will depend on who you are being intimidated by and how long it has been going on for. I'm am not a professional counsellor and the tips that follow are based predominantly on building your confidence and self worth.
Don't give away your power! If you are being bullied or disrespected by someone you work with, a family member, friend or your partner, remember that you do not have to accept behaviour that demeans you. People who don't have the ability to communicate respectfully or cannot control their own emotions, have no right to your attention. If possible, calmly tell them that when they are ready to speak to you like an adult and with respect you will be ready to listen and then walk away. Once you give someone the authority to disrespect you they will continue to do it and nobody deserves to be treated that way. What they won't expect is you to stand up to them and they will be shocked when you do. Bullies thrive on the weakness of the person they are bullying. My mum always said, someone can't argue with someone who doesn't argue back! Having the strength to walk away will make you feel more confident and give you back your power. I appreciate that it may not be that simple in all circumstances and if this is the case and you need additional support, it's important to know that you don't have to continue to be victimised. Speak to someone that you can trust like another manager, family member or friend, specialist counsellors or support services like the Samaritans who can help you.
Build up your self esteem. People who have a high self esteem don't take things personally. They are assertive and confident and they take care of themselves. But having high self-esteem takes continual personal development. It is an evolving process for all of us because inevitably there will be situations that occur throughout our lives that will knock our confidence and self worth. This could be bereavement; major or ongoing health issues; financial debt; being homeless etc. In addition, try not to allow pride and embarrassment can stop you asking for help in these situations, we all need help and you are not the first to go through any of these situations and actually being able to let go of the weight that is bearing down on you will be a relief. Check out this Self Esteem infographic from enlightenmentportal.com and see which areas you may fall into. Understanding how self esteem can affect you will allow you to identify where you may need help.
Love yourself first! Being selfish isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes you may feel pressured by someone who expects you to be at their beck and call or they always rely on you to do things they are quite capable of doing themselves and you always help because that's just how you are. But, you have a right to say no sometimes as much as everyone else does and as long as you can say why something isn't right for you at that time and you are being honest, then you have that right. Nobody is perfect...NOBODY! But you are perfectly you. Be authentically the best you can be, regardless of your perceived faults. They are what make you unique and they are part of you that you should love along with everything else. If we were all the same the world would be so boring! Love yourself inside and out and project a positive energy feeling as much as you can. Wake up, look in the mirror and say 'I am perfectly me and I'm happy with that'.
Being intimidated by someone or something, can really be debilitating. But you are not a victim and you are not a bad a doormat either. You are perfectly who you are meant to be. So embrace everything about you, enhance your self respect and build your confidence. You are an amazing being, so be amazing!