NLP and ‘intimidating people’

Dealing with people who intimidate usDealing with intimidating people

There is a simple-yet-powerful little NLP technique for dealing with an unwanted reaction to somebody – such as when

  • you find them intimidating
  • you are in awe of them
  • you mentally put them on a pedestal and look up to them
  • you tend to defer or give way to them
  • you think they are somehow better than you.

The technique is deceptively simple and takes about 5 minutes yet many people with whom I’ve used it have found it to be an eye opener.

How does it work?

We simply change how we visualise the intimidating person.  Most of us picture the ‘intimidating person’ above us i.e. in our mind’s eye they appear bigger than us, taller than us – as if we are literally looking up to them.  (Incidentally, in my experience, very few people are aware this phenomenon until it is pointed out to them.)

When we use this visualisation technique we mentally ‘bring them down to size’ so that we can see them for what they are – and see how it was our thinking and not their actuality that was the issue!

Who’s intimidating you?

Think of the person who you find daunting. Ask yourself two questions

  1. Are they physically threatening me?
  2. Do they intimidate everyone they meet?

If your answer to both of these is No then it’s pretty certain that it’s not the person that is intimidating you: it’s how you think about them that is doing the intimidating.

Now this is good news: it’s a lot easier to change your thinking about someone than it is to, say, try to avoid them or to try to change their behaviour.

NLP & visualising

The technique for dealing with how we feel intimidated involves mentally visualising or thinking about the person.  And some people are amazing visualisers – they can close their eyes and see things in sharp, colourful, 3D.  The rest of us see images which are vague and unclear and which probably fade or dim as you ‘look’ at them.

This technique works fine however you visualise. If you’re not a ‘clear visualiser’ you may simply need to repeat the technique a few times and on a few days.  (See note at the end of this article on the Swish Technique)

Now for the steps

This will probably work best if you begin by relaxing for a minute or so and closing your eyes:

  1. Think of the person that you find intimidating or that you tend to put on a pedestal
  2. Imagine your mental ‘screen’ is divided into upper and lower halves by an eye level line
  3. Now notice if the person you are thinking of is at eye level, or above eye level, or below.  Usually if we put a person on a pedestal this will be reflected in how we think of them and we will ‘see’ them above eye level.
  4. Now simply bring the image down below eye level – well below the middle of the screen.
  5. Notice what this does to how you feel about them.
  6. Open your eyes and look around you.
  7. Again close your eyes.  Notice where they are in relation to eye level.  Now bring them down below eye level once again.
  8. Now to ‘wire it in ‘repeat the process five or six more times. Close your eyes, notice where the image is.  Bring it down below eye level.  Open your eyes and look around.

That’s it.  Occasionally you may need to repeat the process a few times over a few days, especially if you have been thinking about the person in this awe-struck way for quite some time.

Fine-tune the technique

What if I can’t get them below eye level?

Sometimes it helps to first imagine them even further above eye level and then move them lower.  Or imagine having the image shoot off into the distance and then bounced back again but to a new location well below eye level.  Or have the image first move to either side and then down below eye level.

How long do I need to keep practising this technique?

Sometimes it’s enough to do it five or six times in the first session.  For some thoughts you may need to repeat the process a few times for a day or two.  If this doesn’t have the desired effect then it’s time to escalate the process and use a more powerful technique such as the Swish – or to look more deeply into your relationship with the person.

Note: NLP Submodality Techniques such as this one and the Swish technique mentioned above are best used when the situation does not require practical action; when the issue is about how you think rather than how you should to be handling the situation. As an example, if the person that you find intimidating is a colleague who is actually behaving in an intimidating or bullying manner this requires practical action rather than simply changing your thinking.