People who are intimidating to speak with usually have these 7 insecurities

It’s a natural human emotion to fear what (and who) we don’t know. 

Hence, we might be hesitant to deal with someone who on the surface seems intimidating. 

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life it’s that, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. 

Cliche but exceptionally true. 

It’s been my experience that the most outwardly intimidating people are rarely bad people. 

Instead, they’re just like the rest of us, a bit hardened by their own set of issues. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the common insecurities of intimidating people. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) Fear of rejection or abandonment

Generally speaking, as humans, we’re products of our experiences. 

Who knows, maybe that intimidating person you know has some real issues from childhood. 

Issues that have led them to harbor an inherent fear of rejection.

This fear makes them seem guarded and uptight–and therefore intimidating to those they come across. 

But at the end of the day, this is just their defense mechanism making itself heard. 

My sister is a great person, but she’s also known to be intimidating. 

People think she’s a snob, or elitist, or just plain temperamental. But none of the above is true. 

The fact is, she’s just a little shy and protected, particularly around new people. 

She means well–and once people see past her relatively cold facade, they’ll find a warm, well-meaning, funny person. 

The bottom line is that the marks from our formative years can often last a lifetime. 

So as a general rule, try not to make conclusive judgments after first impressions. 

2) Low self-esteem

People can act confident all day–voice loud, chest out, and head held high. 

But this very well be an act. Or at least partially. 

People can have confidence in certain aspects of life–but internally, deep down, they can also still struggle with lingering feelings of low self-worth and inadequacy.

This can often manifest in the need to compensate for these insecurities

They might become overtly intimidating, getting a fleeting high out of making the people around them feel uncomfortable and squirmish. 

Or maybe they fear being vulnerable. 

Hence, a tough exterior becomes their default persona–accomplished to evade any displays of vulnerability or weakness. 

Humans… we’re a complicated bunch. 

3) Social anxiety or awkwardness

It’s not always that deep. 

Sometimes, “intimidating” people can just be a little socially anxious or awkward around others. 

I don’t know when it came to be, but over time, the status quo for “socially acceptable” now means being outspoken, chatty, and excessively pleasant. 

I’ve always found this to be a rather obtuse way of looking at human interactions, not taking into account the diversity of human personality types. 

Not everyone is an extroverted social butterfly, and that’s perfectly okay. 

For instance, some folks who are just a tad shy or socially anxious and don’t always conform to society’s definition of “pleasant”, are sometimes cast off as intimidating. 

If we bothered looking outside the box, we’d see that what many consider intimidating is simply a person’s way of coping with discomfort

4) Insecurity about competence or knowledge 

Some who are self-aware enough to recognize that they don’t have the abilities, intellect, or knowledge of their peers may try to compensate–by acting “intimidating.” 

They feel insecure about themselves, like they’re not up to par–and therefore to assert authority and mask their perceived shortcomings, they’ll act out. 

This often comes in the form of stern, borderline hostile behaviors and gestures. 

Have you ever shaken a man’s hand and he squeezed just a bit too hard that your knuckles almost collided? 

Well, this display of machismo is common among people who feel a deep-seated need to make up for flaws. 


5) Past trauma or negative experiences 

Anyone who’s been bullied will know that their experiences can lead to an involuntarily guarded, even defensive, feeling towards people. 

It’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of, even though we may have the desire to do so. 

This means we might almost feel instinctively threatened by new people, rather than open. 

I was bullied in grade school–and I’ll tell you, despite all my efforts to combat the trauma, I still feel the effects of it today. 

I might become standoffish or distant when dealing with a new person, as a means of self-protection. 

It’s something–a personality reflex–that I have to contend with regularly. 

And though I’ve made strides over the years, becoming marginally more open and receptive, I can still feel my past chipping away at me from time to time. 

6) Difficulty in trusting others

I know a guy who was so wounded by his ex’s manipulation and abuse, that he found it incredibly difficult to date again. 

Why? Because all his dates found him too distant, too intimidating, too cold. 

He had the will to find love again but he couldn’t quite get over the hump. 

He couldn’t quite get over the years of psychological trauma inflicted by his former love. 

Remember, for every seemingly intimidating person, there’s a colorful story that explains their demeanor. 

This doesn’t mean they’re immoral people; they’re just struggling with their own set of issues. 

So rather than judge, we should empathize. 

7) Perfectionism

You’ve seen it before: the savant musician, athlete, artist, or writer who is so proficient at their chosen pursuit, that they adopt an unflinching “all business” temperament when it comes to it. 

They don’t often publicly joke, smile, or express emotion–other than wanting to get better at their craft. 

Their very auras can terrify those around them, even without a word being spoken–a somberness that stems from a deeply rooted fear of failure, and being judged as imperfect. 

This constant, obsessive pursuit of perfection, however, can come at a cost. 

As established, they might cultivate an overly intimidating demeanor and persona–one that is so stern that their human relationships tend to suffer.

Final words 

The next time you want to cast off an “intimidating” person as unfriendly or even rude, think twice. 

You can’t simply judge them by a superficial observation. 

We need to start giving humanity a bit more credit than that. 

We have to delve beneath the surface to get to truly know someone. 

As a species, we aren’t black or white. 

Because guess what? That grey area… that’s where some of the best stuff is.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.