If they stick around, we may feel relief and guilt; if they leave, we may feel relief and grief.

Being of the animal kingdom, it's wired into us to use a variety of displays of power in order to ensure our safety and status in the pack and further our goals. But we are all tuned into where we stand with one another, with scant exceptions. For some people, there's no problem if they feel that they're intimidating.

It's not unusual for this kind of disconnect to happen, and inadvertent intimidation comes up in several different ways, which are informative to spell out.

Intimidating behaviour video

From hiding oneself and creating a sense of apprehension in the other, to exercising a cold, penetrating intellect without seeming to understand how this may make others feel, to wielding status and power as a matter of habit, to avoiding competition and leading others to feel valueless, to being unaware of the impact of great beauty or charisma, to being vague and mystifying and creating confusion — and perhaps other ways I haven’t considered — we can seriously alienate others by intimidating them without even realizing it is happening, blindsided by the unintended consequences of our own actions. We hide important parts of who we are from ourselves, but reveal them to others in our behavior without knowing it.

When we hide who we really are, this can create the impression in others that we are invulnerable.

Jekyll and Mr./Ms Hyde doubling driven by mutual unrecognition. For example, research (Bolino and Turnley, 2003) found that managers rated female employees as less likable when the ladies were perceived as intimidating, but for the gentlemen, intimidation did not influence likeability.

Not only that, but male employees who used intimidation were also deemed better performers, an effect not enjoyed by women.

"The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain — he is inspired by it.

The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem, he is challenged by it.

But for people who learned to prize intellect above compassion — where the quick comeback, even a sadistic retort, scores points, gives a rush of pleasure even while dismissing the validity of the injury to another — we deny how our words can really hurt.

It’s not “just a joke,” but we tell ourselves it is.

And some people are more easily intimidated, all other factors being equal.

Hear me roar On one hand, there may be a rush of pleasure, a sense of power.

They may believe they are being cryptic on purpose, but sometimes thinking something is on purpose is to cover over the fact that they can't help themselves from doing it, which in turn can be concealing the fact that they really are motivated to be cryptic, without clearly knowing their motivations. We dissect others with the cold scalpel of raw intellect, feeling justified because we are right, or trying to help.