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Many people tend to communicate defensively, especially when feeling nervous and threatened.
When we are not tracking the influence of intimidation on how we relate, it is likely we will fall into maladaptive patterns.
Specifically, intimidation often serves to maintain power dynamics, keeping people in their places in the pecking order and maintaining the structure of society itself, to a significant extent by suppressing dissent and marginalizing dissenters.
People who are effective intimidators attempt to avoid justice (and sometimes they succeed); sometimes they act solo, and sometimes they band together to protect their own interests.
We often don’t know any alternate ways to respond when we feel like we're failing at something we should be able to ace.
Being labeled as intimidating can be confusing What happens when someone tells us they find us intimidating?
Racism is notorious for the mislabeling of individuals as intimidating for malign purposes and out of distorted beliefs.
Those in positions of power may feel insecure about their own value and feel intimidated by assertive employees from marginalized groups, holding stereotypes and feeling irrational fears.
Given the persistence of abuse and harassment across the spectrum of human relationships, from family, to friends, to professional relationships—indeed to one’s relationship with oneself—more than ever we face a growing need to question intimidation dynamics, closely examining the underlying conscious and unconscious motives in order to extricate ourselves from the shadowy history of chronic maltreatment of one another.This piece is a follow-up to one on how people can be intimidating without realizing it.Ending intimidation You may notice an immediate resistance to the idea that intimidation is everywhere; you may shrug and say, “So what?Once we’ve begun to deal with intimidation, we’ll be able to move forward with constructive and possibly reparative conversations to establish better norms.
Being told we are intimidating—and more so becoming aware that we actually have been intimidating—can be a bitter pill to swallow.
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Intimidation is a hidden undercurrent in many of our relationships, ranging from subtle and uncertain to clear and abusive.