In Iron Man, Tony Stark asks, “Is it better to be feared or respected? I say, is it too much to ask for both?” Well, aside from being Iron Man, Buffy Summers or maybe Miranda Priestly, I would venture to say it is pretty difficult to achieve both. I would also say that people can be afraid of you in a bad way if you don’t hold the title of Super Hero, Vampire Slayer, Runway Magazine Editor-in-Chief or Ultimate Fighting Champ.
Being respected is one thing, being feared is quite another. Respect is a positive thing; fear, not so much. If you think people are afraid of you, it might be time to have a little check in with yourself.
- Are you being a jerk? Is it because of pressure that you are under, or is it just how you are?
- Are you giving off the wrong vibes? Is your shyness or intensity misunderstood?
- Are you just creepy (I say this from a loving place, as a lover of all things creepy)?
- Are you a murderer or a raging a-hole? If so, stop reading. Nature wants people to be afraid of you.
Before you start looking at the person in the mirror, here are 6 signs that people are afraid of you in a bad way:
1. People aren’t doing their jobs well around you.
Anxiety degrades performance. If your coworkers, employees, friends or others are afraid of you, chances are, little things will slip through the cracks as they scramble day in and day out trying not to set you off. People get so focused on pleasing someone that they become easily flustered. Who can blame them? Walking on eggshells is a full time job! Try to put people at ease. Watch and see how they are able to function so much better without stressing out about you.
2. People won’t look you in the eye.
Maybe you wear sunglasses inside for the intimidation factor. Chances are if people are afraid of you they won’t be trying to peer into the windows of your soul anyway. They are afraid of staring into the black abyss or triggering you into a rage. Animals often perceive eye contact as a threat, and no one wants to threaten you. So take off those sunglasses you weirdo, or start meeting peoples glances to say, “Hey, I’m not going to bite your head off.”
3. People won’t ask you questions (personal or professional).
Limiting conversation with a scary person is the best course of action. People may avoid asking you questions about work, and they definitely won’t ask you how your weekend was. They don’t want to open a world of hurt by asking you the wrong question, and they may worry they will hear tales of how you terrorize people or kick puppies in your personal time. Open up by asking people questions about their lives; you may change how they see you.
4. People avoid you.
Do people clear away from you at work or at parties? Or, in a more extreme demonstration of fear, do people cross the street when they see you coming? This speaks strongly to you being creepy, or being a jerk. Try smiling, try saying hello… Try leaving your throwing stars at home?
5. People let you make mistakes or do dangerous things.
People are afraid to tell you not to go to the restaurant where everyone else got food poisoning. People are afraid to take your keys when you have had one too many. People don’t make corrections or give your work constructive criticism… When people are afraid of you, they are afraid to help you, too. They are afraid of your wrath should they make any suggestion or comment that might be taken in the wrong way. This is one of the major ways that having people afraid of you can hurt you in the long run.
6. People’s voices change when you are around.
Do peoples talk quickly? Do their voices get high? Do you get easy, nervous laughs? Is everyone speaking in hushed tones around you? Do people just plain stop talking when you come around? It might be time to pay attention to the way people talk to you, and reassess.
These are some signs that people are afraid of you (in a bad way). Remember, while people may go out of their way to avoid upsetting you, they are doing so in their best interest and not in yours. The negative kind of fear doesn’t come from positive feelings for a person, and it doesn’t necessarily come with respect. In the long run, respect is a much more constructive and positive thing to earn from people. Unless you want people to be afraid of you for some reason, you slayer… That is an entirely different article.