Social & Interpersonal Skills

17 Obvious Signs Coworkers Are Intimidated By You  

Have you ever loved your job but noticed that your bosses or coworkers seemed hostile towards you? You probably racked your brain trying to figure out what you did wrong.

Maybe you legitimately annoyed the entire company, but it’s also possible you intimidated them. This piece will discuss some signs coworkers are intimidated by you and what you can do.

Here’s why your coworkers (and bosses) might be intimidated by you.

You probably don’t walk around with a big head about your work skills, accomplishments, or ethics. Therefore, it may have never dawned on you that you might intimidate your coworkers and bosses. It could be true, however. These are some reasons your coworkers might feel the way they do:

1. You’re different.

People have always been intimidated by what they don’t understand. Thus, your coworkers might be put off by your free-thinking, non-conformist attitude, or something else. The aspects that are different about you can be huge or insignificant, but they might make your coworkers uncomfortable.

signs coworkers are intimidated by you

2. Your work ethic is unlike theirs.

Many times, new workers come to an establishment with a desire to impress their bosses and be good workers. Employees and bosses who don’t share the same work ethic will always feel threatened by it.

The harder you work, the more your bosses can see how much other people don’t work. It’s not your fault, but it explains why some workers want to eliminate you and dim your light.

3. You threaten their position or relationship.

You may have a talent or skill your coworkers don’t have, and they might be outright jealous of you because of it. They may also feel you threaten their current standings as an employer’s “favorite” or upset their chances of getting promoted.

4. They misunderstand you.

The problem might be that you come across to your coworkers as a know-it-all, braggart, or condescending person. That may not be who you are at all.

In fact, they could have you pegged as the complete opposite of who you are and how you feel. However, they will act according to their beliefs, as most humans do.

These are 17 signs coworkers are intimidated by you.

Now you know why your coworkers might feel intimidated by your presence. These are 17 obvious signs they most likely are:

1. They won’t look you in the eyes.

Your coworkers might be intimidated by you if they don’t look you in the eye. Avoiding eye contact is a huge sign that someone is hiding something. Maybe your coworkers won’t look at you because you’ll see their contempt for you if they do.

2. They’ll exaggerate their “resume.”

Another sign that someone is threatened by you at work is if someone suddenly offers you the unsolicited details of their resume, and they sound completely fabricated.

That might be a sign that your work history makes that person feel insecure, and he or she wants to “outdo” you to feel better. This issue is not your fault, and they shouldn’t be offering you their work history play-by-play unless you’re interviewing them for a job.

3. They’ll set you up to fail.

Intimidated coworkers and bosses don’t always play fair. Thus, you might notice that you get tossed into situations for which you are unprepared. Maybe you get thrown to the wolves without proper training, or you get stuck with the district manager who wants to “evaluate” you after only a few days of non-training.

Setting you up to fail almost guarantees that your bosses won’t look at you for promotions or pay increases any time soon.

4. They’ll hide things from you.

Your coworkers might be intimidated if they never want to share any helpful information with you, and they seem like everything is a secret. Consider that intimidation might be a factor if you can’t even access training materials easily.

5. They compete with you for no reason.

You might find yourself in stiff competition with workers, even though none of you work in a sales position. Jealous, insecure, and intimidating people always need to one-up and compete with people who threaten them in any way. It could make your job highly undesirable if you don’t wish to compete.

Read More: 5 Tactics To Deal With Someone Who Is Stealing Sales From Coworkers

6. They avoid you.

Your coworkers might avoid you so much that you start to believe your breath stinks or you have bad hygiene. That’s probably not the case, and you might just be dealing with coworkers who feel a little threatened.

Their actions might not be malicious at all. They may not know what to say to you or how to act around you. Thus, they disappear instead of dealing with the awkwardness. Alternatively, they could be avoiding you to make you feel uncomfortable enough to leave. In that case, yes, they’re rude.

7. They clique up and taunt you.

signs coworkers are intimidated by you

Cliques have a way of making workers feel like they’re in high school again. They’re always unpleasant, but they may be even more unbearable if your coworkers fear you.

Their tendency to clique up with other workers and oppose you might be overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Cowardly people do it when they don’t know how to handle challenging situations.

8. They gossip about you.

Intimidated coworkers might use unscrupulous tactics to make you look bad in front of others. They may feel like you threaten their relationships with other coworkers or management staff. Therefore, they might use gossip as a tool to stain your name and ruin your standing.

9. They embarrass you in front of customers or coworkers.

Intimidated coworkers may try to overcompensate for their insecure feelings by making you feel insecure. They may embarrass you in front of the workers and, even worse, the customers.

10. They tell you you’re intimidating.

You might not have to ask, “Are my coworkers intimidated by me?” They might come right out and tell you how they feel. Consider yourself lucky if one of your coworkers gives you a heads-up about that. Ensure you get as much information as possible about why your coworkers feel intimidated. The problem could be something you’re doing, but it could also be an issue they need to work on within themselves.

11. They micromanage you.

Have you ever been micromanaged by someone who wasn’t your manager? Welcome to the intimidated coworker world. Unwarranted micromanaging and snitching are two tactics insecure workers use when they want to exercise control over someone else.

Be leery if your same-tenured coworker suddenly criticizes everything you do and insists on force-feeding you the “right” way to do the job. Be confident that your coworker is intimidated by you if that person has to report to the supervisor every time you yawn outside of break time.

12. They change expressions when you come around.

Some people aren’t too good at hiding their emotions. Therefore, you may notice that some of your peers change their facial expressions when you come around.

They might change from smiling to frowning, peace to fear, or neutrality to disdain. You can feel pretty confident that a coworker who changes expressions on you probably has something against you.

13. They avoid you.

Coworkers who have negative feelings toward you might avoid you altogether. They may go the opposite way in the break room or huddle in areas far away from you. You’ll usually get a strange vibe that no one wants to be around you, and you’ll have no idea why.

14. They seem nervous around you.

Your corkers might seem fidgety or nervous around you. You may seem like an authoritative figure, which puts them off around you. Alternatively, they may be anxious because they feel guilty about their ill-willed plots and tactics against you.

15. They don’t ever agree with you.

signs coworkers are intimidated by you

You might notice that your peers always try to pick fights with you, discredit you, and disagree with everything you say. These tactics might be a form of harassment or a clever way to try to push you out of your job position.

16. They distract you.

Some coworkers will try to distract you from your work so that your bosses won’t see you doing a good job. Pay close attention to workers who strike up meaningless conversations during busy times or send you on random missions that take you away from your regular job.

Those workers may be trying to prevent you from impressing your bosses. It’s a strong possibility that the boss is watching when these coworkers choose to do their distractions.

17. They show no interest in you.

People who are intimidated by you will most likely not show much interest in your success, growth, or capability. Thus, you may notice that they seem bored or annoyed with your accomplishments and happy when something goes wrong.

What to do if you’re unknowingly intimidating your coworkers or bosses.

These are some ways you can handle yourself if you believe your coworkers are intimidated by you.

1. Try to tear down your walls.

Your peers might believe you’re intimidating because you have too many walls up, leaving you vulnerable to being misunderstood. Perhaps you can loosen up slightly and let them get to know you as a human being.

Sometimes, quiet and non-sociable people get a bad rap as “intimidating.” Maybe that couldn’t be further from the truth about you, but you’ll have to prove it. Try smiling from time to time and interacting a little bit more than you have.

2. Compliment their good qualities.

It might help if you highlight and appreciate some of your coworkers’ good qualities. Maybe they feel intimidated because other workers and managers are talking about you and your skill set.

You can’t stop other people from talking positively about you. However, you could try to speak kindly and uplift your coworkers, so they’ll know they’re also valuable and skilled workers. Complimenting your coworkers will also let them know that you don’t think you’re better than they are and that you recognize their strengths.

3. Be a team player.

signs coworkers are intimidated by you

Try not to be a lone ranger at work if you can avoid it. The corporate world likes people who fit the mold of a “team player.” A team player is someone who helps coworkers when they need it, sacrifices certain things for the company’s good, and enjoys collaborating and doing group projects.

4. Show good body language.

Use positive body language whenever you interact with your coworkers. Don’t talk to them with your arms crossed or look the other way when speaking. Instead, show your engagement, smile, and do your best to create a positive environment where everyone will enjoy working.

Now you know 17 signs coworkers are intimidated by you. You can improve some things, but you have no control over others. The key is to gather as much information about the issue as possible.

Once you determine the cause of the intimidation, you can decide how to tackle it. You might choose to work with your team, speak to the higher-ups about the problems, or leave the job altogether.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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