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Power play: The psychology of intimidation

Friday February 27 2015



Family argument.Photo/FILE

Family argument.Photo/FILE 

IRENE NJOROGE-KRISTIAN
By IRENE NJOROGE-KRISTIAN
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Some people are easily intimidated by others, whether at work, business or even socially.

When you are easily intimidated, it shows up in your body language, and this could work against you.

The secret is to control your reactions so that the fact that you have been taken aback or overwhelmed does not show. Here are some ways to navigate even the most intimidating situations.

Keep your cool at all times

If you walk into a very impressive house, car or office, act as though you are accustomed to such places.

Do not stare or ogle at anything – in fact you should appear not to notice anything unusual. Pay the occupant a passing compliment in a very perfunctory manner on a specific aspect e.g. “Nice door.” Playing it cool like this actually gives you the upper edge.

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Deliberate intimidation tactics

Some people who are well versed in human nature such as lawyers, doctors, and insurance salesmen often employ subtle intimidation techniques aimed to subdue.

One of the main methods used in this country is to have a huge polished desk and leather chair with a high back.

The minute a person enters such an office, and is shown to a lower-placed seat, the person in the high chair is instantly elevated to a position of power and authority as compared to the one on visitor’s chair.

This deliberately makes you less likely to oppose or even question anything you are told.

An unsmiling face with a constant gaze is part of the ploy.

Sales intimidation

In a bid to make people pay huge sums of money, certain institutions and individuals employ what is known as sales intimidation.

It starts with the building or gate entrance which is often large and grand, with a huge door that diminishes you as you humbly enter the building.

The reception is often well-lit and immaculate. The entire setup is formal and scary to the point that a person ends up speaking very politely as they ask for services.

This is very common in hotels, insurance companies and schools. In Kenya, certain enterprises go to the extent of employing foreign figureheads.

The aim is to make you feel as though you are dealing with a larger than life international entity.

Clever business people use this method when selling products to improve sales and image because it is believed that people are more likely to buy big international sounding brands.

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