Fear is one of primal human emotions. It makes us react in extreme ways. When someone is afraid, it triggers their fight-or-flight response. This means they react with aggression, or they do what they can to get away from the person who scares them as quickly as possible.
So if fear makes people want to fight you or run away from you, when is being intimidating useful? The most common reactions to being afraid – aggression or avoidance – might be exactly what you need in competitive situations, for instance, in sports or certain business environments.
Knowing how to make people fear you can come in handy in these circumstances, but sometimes when you think that you want people to fear you, it’s actually something else you’d like to achieve.
Keep reading to find out how to make people fear you, but also for suggestions on how to get what you’re looking for in more easily.
How To Make People Fear You?
Most of the time, people feel afraid of someone because of their own insecurities. This ranges from an intense fear of being around someone they have a crush on to being scared of someone they are prejudiced against.
Of course, one of the most common reasons people are intimidated by someone is because of their unpleasant behavior. Or, to put it plainly, because they act like a jerk. Many people are also afraid of someone they consider better than them, especially if they view them as competition.
So how does knowing all of this help you learn how to make people fear you? Being aware of what intimidates people can help you decide how to be intimidating. Your best option is to make people think that you’re superior to them in some way.
However, whichever way you approach this, keep in mind that you will be considered a jerk by whoever you choose to intimidate. Your behavior can also give you a reputation that can push away even those you might not want to frighten.
Here are some great tips on how to achieve what you’re after.
1. Don’t show vulnerability
When someone is sincere and shows their honest feelings, they connect to people around them. Vulnerability shows that you’re human and brings you closer to people.
To appear intimidating, do the opposite: hide your true feelings and put up a mask of aloof indifference. This has a far greater chance of intimidating people than being mean. If you avoid talking to others about things that matter to you on a deeper level, you’ll make yourself seem untouchable and intimidating.
Hiding your vulnerability and always keeping a cool outward appearance will keep you at a distance from others, but it will also give you an air of mystery and superiority. Having a reserved and stand-offish persona that gives the impression that you’re above others’ petty problems will give many people feelings of envy and fear.
2. Be competitive
Being competitive is about wanting to be on top. Competitiveness gives you an edge. The more competitive you are, the more effort you put into winning, which, in turn, raises your self confidence, making you more likely to succeed. It’s a vicious cycle, but in a good way.
The more you succeed, the more you keep your head high, and your aura becomes intimidating. If you focus on winning to the extent that nothing else matters, people become afraid to face you because they believe they’ll lose.
When your opponent is afraid of you, giving their all to the competition becomes difficult. Even if their fear triggers their fight instinct, they won’t be able to keep their head cool enough to face you with their full capabilities.
3. Show (or exaggerate) your intelligence
Use your intelligence to win conversations. Communication isn’t the goal here – the perfect comeback is what you’re after. Whatever someone says, if you’re able to one-up them, they’ll become afraid of sharing their thoughts and feelings with you.
Let them know that they are below you with everything you say. The sense of not being as smart as another person who easily understands something hard to figure out leads to feelings of fear and inadequacy.
For example, a coworker who knows that you can dissect everything they say until it’s meaningless will be afraid of talking to you. If you’re able to always pick the right words to dispute someone’s argument on social media, it will make people less likely to try to argue with you.
4. Be unpredictable
People are creatures of habit, so anything unexpected has a strong effect. Intimidating people are often unpredictable, keeping others on their toes with their behavior. For example, one day, you can be a nice guy who’s polite and kind, and the next, you’re dismissive of whoever dares talk to you.
Breaking social norms and frequent mood swings can make people fear your behavior, but this is just the surface way to be unpredictable. To be truly surprising, you must never let people know what you’re thinking.
When people are talking smack about something you like, don’t defend it. Don’t make your wishes known. Instead of indulging in your desires, choose your actions rationally. Avoid picking the easy option. Instead, do whatever is the most effective.
Because most people don’t act like this, they won’t be able to understand you and predict your reactions. And if they never know how you’ll react, they’ll be afraid of you.
5. Use assertive body language
Show assertiveness through body language. When talking to people, face them and maintain eye contact. Speak without hesitation, in a steady voice with a high enough volume.
Make sure you have a good posture and use assertive gestures. Put your hands on your hips or cross your arms across your chest. Take up as much space as possible using your body. Don’t shuffle your feet, and don’t fidget.
This will give the impression of confidence and self-assuredness. It’s enough to intimidate a lot of people, but you can take it a step further and use aggressive body language. You want to leave an impression that you win through sheer power and control of the environment and that you lack positive emotions.
Keep your facial expressions as neutral as possible – if you can, don’t smile. Hold eye contact longer than the other person. Point your finger when talking and lean into the other person’s personal space.
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Is Being Feared The Right Choice?
If you want to be feared, your first step should be to figure out why that is. What is it that you’re trying to achieve by having people be afraid of you?
If what you want is for people to lose their composure around you or leave you alone, then fear is your best choice. On the other hand, if you’re trying to get something else from people, very often, you can achieve better results if you handle things in a slightly different way.
Why do you want to be feared?
In many cases where you think you want to make people fear you, you might be after other things. Your feelings might become clearer if you try to figure out what you think being feared would bring you.
The desire to be feared is often caused by low self-esteem and actually stems from the same source as being afraid. Think carefully about why being feared is something you want to find the answer to what it is you really want.
Do you want people to fear you:
• Because you want respect?
Confusing fear with respect is the most common reason people think they want to be feared.
Some people believe that respect is something they’re entitled to because they are more powerful, older, in a position of authority, etc., compared to someone they consider below themselves. They view respect as fear – to show respect means not to question them, to always do as they say, and to act the way they say.
In reality, actual respect is something that every human being deserves: their value and their worth to be acknowledged. If you’re feeling invalidated and you’re used to the interpretation of respect as fear, this might be the reason you believe you want people to be scared of you.
Actually, you want to feel respected. Being respected means being accepted and feeling safe when expressing who you are. It means being heard, not judged, and allowed to admit when you’ve made a mistake.
You can achieve this by clearly defining your boundaries and enforcing them. This isn’t about instilling fear in others – it’s about keeping your personal integrity safe.
• To feel powerful?
Power comes from having your life in control, not from having other people under your control. Work on yourself and make solid decisions to be able to choose how you live. Powerlessness can be caused by a lack of choices, so if you want to feel powerful, create them.
How do you do this? First, figure out what it is that you want from your life, then formulate a plan on how to get it. Ditch all negative thinking and believe in yourself. Consistently work on yourself and your goals.
Once you feel like you’re doing what you choose to do instead of what life throws at you, you’ll feel in control and powerful.
• To compensate for your insecurities?
If you have certain phobias or anxiety disorders, wanting to make people fear you might be a reaction to it. This is why most high school bullies act the way they do. Unfortunately, being frightening doesn’t help with being afraid, and a better solution is to deal with the cause itself.
• Because you enjoy causing fear?
If you want people to be afraid of you because you enjoy it, it might be caused by underlying mental health conditions, and psychotherapy might be helpful. Talk to your healthcare provider to refer you to a therapist, even if you think there’s nothing wrong with enjoying making people scared.
The consequences of being feared
People are afraid of someone they think might cause them harm and generally don’t want to spend time around such people.
The physical symptoms of fear make most people want to run away. When people are afraid of someone, they try to minimize contact with them and only spend time around them when necessary.
These are some ways that being intimidating can affect your relationships.
Some people cower in the face of fear, but others become aggressive. This might be the opposite of what you wanted to achieve by being intimidating in the first place. Scaring someone might work on occasion, but be prepared that it won’t work on everyone.
In many situations where you’re not in direct competition with someone, being feared will make your life more complicated and your relationships with other people – even those you don’t want to intimidate – less close.
People will try to avoid you as much as they can. For example, they’ll agree with you just to avoid conflict. This might seem like you’re gaining something when it happens, but in the long run, you’ll lose a lot because the people around you won’t care.
People will never give you their best if they’re afraid of you. For example, if you’re a boss whose employees are always afraid of the consequences of their actions, they’re always going to do only what they have to, without taking risks or using creativity.
People who fear you will never have any positive feelings for you. They’ll only deal with you when they have to, and you can never expect them to like you or truly respect you. Even when it seems that they do, they are probably only acting like it because they think they have to seem that they like you. The moment they don’t have to fear you, they’ll lose all regard for you.
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Knowing how to make people fear you can be useful for certain situations. Using dominant and aggressive body language, as well as intimidating people through assertive behavior, will broadcast your aura.
To build a relationship with people in which they accept their fear of you, some long-term methods are preferable: being unpredictable, competitive, or hiding behind a persona.
On the other hand, before you decide to present an intimidating front, consider why you want to make people fear you. There might be some underlying issues that must be dealt with if you want to achieve anything substantial in life.