Recently I came to the realisation that sometimes, unintentionally, my height is intimidating to some people.
I’m the type of person that is proud of my height and not for a second do I feel bad about it. I strive to stand with good posture as much as I can and try to display open and dominant body language wherever I go. Sometimes my resting facial expression can be somewhat neutral, bordering on looking angry. Combined, this gives off an aura of confidence which can intimidate some people, especially if meeting them for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong – in the context of a competitive sport or important business negotiation appearing intimidating is a desired quality, however, when it comes to interpersonal interactions on a daily basis, intimidation is not always the desired effect. My aim isn’t to walk around purposefully intimidating people and making them feel small but at the same time I refuse to slouch and display poor posture and body language just so people feel better about themselves.
To rectify this dilemma I’ve found one simple hack that makes me appear less intimidating.
That hack is:
Whether it’s greeting the barista at a café, looking at the person as they enter the same elevator as me or being introduced to a new group of people, the simple act of making eye contact and smiling (for a brief moment) will make all the difference in how you are perceived.
As a bonus, smiling is actually contagious! A 2010 study at Uppsala University in Sweden confirmed that other people’s smiles actually suppress the control we usually have over our facial muscles, compelling us to smile. They also showed that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles.
Why? Because smiling is evolutionarily contagious and we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one. This occurs even among strangers when we have no intention to connect or affiliate with the other person.
Disclaimer: When I say smile at the person I don’t mean stare them down and hold a smile for as long as you can, that just looks awkward.
Let me know your thoughts about this simple hack and how you deal with people feeling intimidated by your height.
Stand tall and be proud.