How to Be Mean and Intimidating when Necessary

Three Parts:Knowing When to ActAdopting the AttitudeTaking Action

Being mean and intimidating all the time can be exhausting and won't help you make any friends. However, there are times when it's absolutely necessary to scare people off a little bit and to assert yourself. If you need to be mean and intimidating toward someone, then you have to have an attitude of "I don't care what anyone thinks," a healthy dose of confidence, and the words to back it up. If you want to know how to be mean and intimidating when you need to be, see Step 1 to be on your way.

Part 1
Knowing When to Act

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    Know when you should stand up for yourself. The first thing you've got to know is when you should be intimidating and mean. You can't do it all the time or it will lose its value -- and you will lose friends. But if someone has been putting you down, making you feel small, or just not giving you your due, it may be time to turn up the mean/intimidating factor. If you feel like there is a person or people in your life who are constantly treating you with disrespect and that you've tried being nice and it just hasn't worked, it may be time to explore your mean side.
    • If you repeatedly feel disrespected or overlooked, it may be time to act. Being Mr. Nice Guy or Ms. Nice Girl won't always work in your favor, unfortunately.
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    Make sure that your motives are pure. You shouldn't just be mean and intimidating to hurt someone's feelings, to show off, or just to make yourself feel better. If this is what you want, then you may end up just being mean and intimidating all the time. You should only do it if you feel like you really haven't been heard and need to stand your ground, or if there is a person or people in your life who are just walking all over you and not taking you seriously. Remember that you want to use your powers for good, not evil.
    • And this is not to say that fighting fire with fire always works -- if someone is being mean to you, then the solution doesn't have to be to be mean back. But if you've tried everything else, then it may be time to assert yourself.
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    Don't do it too much. If you're on this page, then chances are that you've found yourself in a dire situation where you feel like you have no other options but to be a bit threatening. If this is the case, then that's fine, but you shouldn't try to make this your new permanent persona. Pick and choose your battles, and don't get in the habit of being mean and intimidating toward too many people or your new personality just might stick.
    • Make sure to watch yourself. If it feels a little too good to be mean and intimidating, then it's time to back off.
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    Make sure you don't change completely. There are many tricks to acting mean and intimidating and you can definitely adopt some of them. However, you don't want to have a complete transformation where your original personality has completely fallen by the wayside. If you're acting nothing at all like yourself around people who know you, then they may think you're putting on an act and they may even find you amusing. Find a way to integrate elements of meanness and intimidation into your real personality.
    • You don't want to overdo it. If you're normally shy and meek and start acting like a bouncer at the hottest club in Manhattan, people may be on to you.

Part 2
Adopting the Attitude

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    Don't be afraid to say no. People who are mean and intimidating do not give in to other people or let them walk all over them. You have to be ready to assert yourself and to say no to people who dump too much work on you, ask you for ridiculous favors, or just put more pressure on you than you're comfortable with. People who are truly intimidating are more interested in getting people to do what they want than in giving in to the needs of others.
    • If something seems ridiculous or un-doable to you, then say so. This is the new you, remember?
    • It's a matter of getting the respect that you deserve. People won't respect you if they know you'll say yes to anything they want you to do.
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    Don't settle for less than you deserve. If you want to get the right attitude, then you have to remember that you deserve the things that you want, and that you don't have to spend your life settling for the second rate. You could want to move up in the career ladder, or for some annoying people to give you some space at school. Whatever you want, write it down, and see that you really deserve nothing but the best. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    • You have to really know what you want to know if you're settling. Take some time to think about what you want out of life -- and what you hope to achieve by being mean and intimidating.
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    Be okay with doing your own thing. People who are mean and intimidating have their own ideas about how life should be lived and they do not give in or conform to others' notions of success or the right thing to do. This doesn't mean that you should set your house on fire, but it does mean that you should stay true to your beliefs and not care too much about what anyone thinks. If you want to go to a concert but no one else likes the band, go by yourself. If you walk into a classroom and don't know anyone there and don't feel like being social, take a seat and do what you want.
    • Stop the desperation of trying to look like you fit in, and stop surrounding yourself by people you don't really care about just so you look cooler.
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    See the world as your oyster. Stop thinking about what the world hasn't given you or what it has kept you from doing, and think of it as something you can embrace and maybe even conquer. When you walk into a room, don't retreat into yourself, worrying that you won't act the right way or that you won't know anybody there; instead, think of the awesome time you're going to have because the whole night is within your control.
    • It's a matter of attitude. If you think that a million good things can happen to you and are excited to start getting what you want, it's much more likely to happen than if you crawl into fetal position in the corner and cry, "Nothing good ever happens to me…"
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    Let your validation come from within. Don't wait for other people to tell you how amazing you are, how good you look, or how much you're worth. Though it's nice to get some praise and accolades, none of that will mean a thing if you think you're a worthless person with nothing going for you. Instead, take a step back to take stock of how awesome you are, and let people see that you're so comfortable with yourself that you don't care what they think of you -- now that's intimidating.
    • This doesn't mean that you have to think you're perfect. It does mean that you have to realize that you're a worthy person, flaws and all.
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    Have a clear sense of what you want. Another way to intimidate people and to even seem a bit mean, is to know exactly what you're after. It could be that you want to pass through the halls without talking to anyone who is bringing you down; it could mean that you know you want to graduate college in three years. Whatever you want, you have to have a firm vision of the future you want to achieve, so firm that anyone in your orbit can think, "Wow, there's no stopping him/her."
    • Look straight ahead instead of down at the floor. Let people see that you're always looking toward the future.
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    Have firm opinions. People who are mean or intimidating don't go around asking others what they think they should do or constantly questioning everything they believe. Though you can of course question your beliefs to find the right answer, you should avoid coming off as a person who is insecure and always turning to others for answers. You should not only be able to state how you feel about certain issues or situations, but you should have concrete evidence to back it up.
    • Though everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, you should not go around spouting off ill-founded, hurtful, or just annoying opinions; this will not make people respect you. Have firm beliefs, but make sure they are founded in reality.
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    Have control. People who are mean and intimidating have control over their emotions, their bodies, and their words. Speak in a calm and measured way and don't look like you're about to explode if you find yourself in a difficult social situation. If you find yourself getting heated or raising your voice, then back away and say that you need a breather. If you want people to be intimidated by you, then you want them to think, "Wow, he/she really meant business when he/she said that…"
    • If you want to sound like you have conviction and want to be taken seriously, then you have to have control over your words and emotions.
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    Exude confidence. You can't be mean or intimidating to a house plant if you don't have the confidence to back it up. You've got to act and look like you love who you are, like you know where you're going, and like you know what you're doing. Speak with conviction, make eye contact, have good posture, and don't fidget or look around too much or you'll look unsure of yourself. You shouldn't be arrogant and flawless, but if you show too much weakness, then no one will be able to take you seriously.
    • Fake it until you make it. If you have the body language and voice control down, you'll be much more likely to feel confident.

Part 3
Taking Action

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    Stand your ground. No matter what, don't back down. Even if someone says something that makes your opinion look rubbish, keep backing up what you think and saying exactly what you think. Don't go, "Yeah, I guess you're right, man. I stink," or that kind of thing. Keep going. Even if you lose, it'll show people you won't back down and that you stand up for what you believe in. Just make sure you don't give the impression that you are too stubborn to hang around.
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    Be reserved. This can be accomplished through controlled use of facial expressions and verbal language. Remain polite in your manner, but at the same time don't give too much away about yourself. You might find that it helps to keep conversations brief and matter-of-fact, without going into personal details. This will create a sense of mystery and uncertainty for others, when it comes to your interactions with them.
    • Also remember not to appear afraid or intimidated -- as otherwise this will ruin the desired effect.
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    Portray a lack of positive emotions. This includes avoiding behaviour such as laughing, joking, and smiling - even if normally these are typical attitudes you show others. If you find this difficult, aim to be as generally emotionless as you can -- within the specific situation you're trying to appear mean/intimidating in -- might help with this. However, expressing negative emotions such as anger bursts or irritability is acceptable -- as these will likely lead to intimidating the person/people on the receiving end.
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    Use an appropriate tone of voice when speaking. Make sure that you sound confident, tough and sure of yourself. Don't talk so quietly people can't hear you. Talk just a little bit louder than usual, to make sure you're heard. It'll silence people, too. Don't say anything to provoke an argument or that might get you in trouble, but make sure you say what you think in a slightly more tough than usual kind of way.
    • You can always tape record yourself at home to see how you really come off.
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    Be blunt in expressing your opinions of others. If it happens that someone has made a bad decision or doesn't look good in some way, plunge ahead and be honest about it with them -- but without being tactful as you won't give the impression of being mean if you do so. You'll likely achieve the effect you're after even better if you use a sarcastic manner when making your comments.
    • This is a great way of showing that you don't care what other people think, which is an intimidating trait.
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    Walk into a room like you own it. People who are mean and intimidating know what they're after and walk into a room like it is all theirs. It's just a vibe they give off that says, "Get out of the way!" This definitely scares people a bit and makes them think, "There's a person who knows where he's going." If you want to be mean and intimidating, then you can't walk into a room like you don't know where you're going or when you'll get there. Act firm and assert your dominance and do it as soon as you can.
    • Don't look around nervously for someone to talk to. If you look like you know where you're going, you'll immediately intimidate people.
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    Don't laugh too much. Though even the meanest and most intimidating people have a softer side, you won't be making too many people cower if you're cracking up every two seconds. Humor is great for relieving stress and helping you connect with people, but if you find yourself around someone you want to intimidate, then the less jokes, the better. You can't let them think you're easygoing, fun to be around, or too relaxed, or they may take advantage of you.
    • Of course, if you're just hanging out with a bunch of people who you don't want to be mean to, then laugh all you want!
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    Let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You don't have to brag to intimidate people or to be mean to them. If you talk about how amazing you are at soccer/school/starting your own company, then people will be less likely to respect you or to be intimidated by you than if they learned about this on their own. If you're really so great, then people will probably figure it out pretty quickly; if you have to tell them, they won't care that much.
    • Don't be so invested in bragging and showing people how awesome you are in an attempt to scare people off. This will make you seem like you're desperate for approval, which is the opposite of being mean or intimidating.
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    Don't suck up. Don't flatter people when you don't mean it, beg for approval, or just act like a general suck-up. This behavior will make people think that you get all of your validation from other people and that you don't really know what you want, or that you don't think that you can get there on your own. Yeah, if you suck up to your teachers, popular people, or bosses, the people around you will lose respect for you because they won't think you respect yourself.
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    Mind your appearance. If you want to be mean and intimidating to people, then you've got to look put together. You don't have to dress to the nines or look like you just came off the runway, but you should wear nice, clean, wrinkle-free clothes, shower regularly, and do all you've got to do to look like a person who actually cares about his or her appearance. This shows a basic level of respect that you give yourself, which suggests that other people should follow suit.
    • Don't let people see you looking at your reflection or fixing your clothes or make up in public. This will make you look a bit unsure of yourself.
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    Don't show weakness. This is not the time to let people see how insecure, scared, or uncertain you are. If you want to intimidate people, then you've got to let them think that you're comfortable with yourself, that you're secure with who you are, and that you don't have 8,000 flaws that you are broadcasting at all times. If you show too much weakness, people will latch on to it and will see that they can be mean to you right back.
    • It's okay to open up to your friends about your weaknesses and insecurities. But when it comes to going out in public and giving people a scare, keep it to yourself.


  • If it is someone you know and they have always been mean to you, they may leave you alone if you just show them who is boss.
  • Always hold your head up high and don't back down!
  • Using your facial muscles, push your eyebrows together to create an intense and stern look when speaking and making your point.
  • If you're thinking of using them, don't go overboard on the anger bursts. It's one thing to express anger through facial expressions and words. But another to threaten somebody with physical harm. Avoid this at all costs, as otherwise it'll get you into trouble and you'll probably end up getting hurt anyway.


  • If you really don't like the idea of potentially offending, or making possible enemies out of other people, this article probably isn't for you.
  • Trying these techniques might still lead to trouble or a fight, so be careful in your choice of words and actions around specific people. Use your best sense of judgement as to what is likely to work without being likely to lead to greatly problematic situations.
  • Trying these steps is highly unlikely to score you popularity points. People often don't like others who make a habit of being mean or intimidating.
  • If you are Stern all the time, nobody will want to be around you.

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Categories: Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions