• Anna Conrad

You Are Scarier Than You Think


No matter how friendly you are, if you're a manager, you probably intimidate others simply due to your position. This fear can be detrimental to employee effectiveness and retention. When people are scared, they're less likely to offer ideas, point out problems, or let you know when they are unhappy.


We have written before about the importance of understanding the other person's perceptions and communication style [link to the online course]. Here are a few additional techniques to help:

  • Be mindful of how your title affects the ways others perceive you. For example, suppose you ask questions to understand a project. In that case, a peer might hear an attempt at understanding, while a junior employee might hear criticism.

  • Consider the impact of your facial expressions and body language. If you look away when you think, you may send a message that you are not paying attention. Is there a possibility that your thoughtful frown could be seen as an angry scowl?

  • Ask a trusted colleague for feedback about body language that might be off-putting.

  • Be upfront about your habits, such as saying, "I know that I frown when I'm thinking, but that doesn't mean I'm upset."

  • Be aware of your reactions to comments and questions. If you respond negatively when you're challenged, people will be less likely to speak up in the future.