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How to deal with intimidating people?

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posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:34 PM
My professor is incredibly smart, disciplined, and admirable. I find the subject material fascinating, and she presents it well in a way that makes it pretty easy to understand. And she absolutely terrifies me.

Every class section, I start to get all nervous and tight chested, sweaty palms. She makes me feel frazzled and incompetent. I actually do know what I'm doing in there, and I'm not goofing off or something ridiculous. I take my work seriously, and she clearly does as well.

She hasn't said or done anything specifically mean or intimidating, I'm pretty sure it's just her personality to be strict and stern. Which I actually really appreciate and value because I hate when people goof off in college, and she is able to keep all those 'youngsters' well in line.

My problem is that I find her so intimidating, that I get so nervous it causes me to make careless mistakes! And then I feel even more awful and incompetent because I really WANT to impress her with my concientous attitude and quality work! And it's like a vicious cycle, because then I get more frazzled and make more mistakes.

I've had strict professors before, but none who have affected me like this!
I tend to leave class feeling awful. How can I change my thoughts or attitude or anything so that I am not so stressed about this?

Helpful advice appreciated, mean comments not so much!

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:39 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

She craps craps like everyone else....don't worry about making mistakes..and know that this is temporary.

edit on 1-10-2014 by chrismarco because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:40 PM
Gun. Extensive martial art training. Liftin weights. Wrasslin gators n bears. Um, spinach?
A pet jaguar??
breeeeeaaatheee man....
Slow an steady.
Imagine professor in undies.
edit on 1-10-2014 by dashen because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:43 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

It takes time... the prof crys, craps, loves, hates, sweats the same as you....

It took me a while in academia to get this... you will. It all takes time.

Eventually you may lose your temper against one of these figures and it will teach you that you have it in you to be an equal.

good luck my friend.


posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:46 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

I had an organic chemistry professor in undergrad who boasted that he has crushed the dreams of hundreds of people who had no business becoming physicians. At first, I had a very "screw you" attitude for him which was easy to deal with, but soon I began to look past his ego and his personality quirks and I saw a very witty very competent very passionate creature and I grew in love and respect for him. Unfortunately, he and I butted heads quite a bit and were never really friendly with one another, but in the end I got a good grade in his class and he has offered me letters of recommendation which were amazing since then, so I know he either has esteem for me or he is a team player that wants to see graduates from his program do well in life. Either way, it is a good person to have in my corner.

Your source of self-appreciation should primarily come from your own mind. If you are doing your best and you are benefiting from the class, then that is all you have control over. If she is the kind of person that is worthy of your esteem, she will not judge you harshly for silly mistakes and she will see in you the passion for learning and the growth that you are experiencing with the material.

I tutored university students for five years and most students have no interest in the subject matter, now if this is a core class and you are in a competitive program, this might be different for you, but I think any teacher is going to have an affinity for a responsive student. Learning is a relationship, and not only do teachers instruct, but students help them to refine the process of being able to relay information more effectively in the future and to grow as an individual. It is truly a two way street.

Stop deifying her, humanize her and relax and enjoy the process. 99% of the time when things go buggy it is because of the mind thinking about its situation instead of thriving within it.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:52 PM
sounds like youve got a crush on her

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:55 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

My advice to you............ be impressed with yourself, and the works that you progress upon. Your Prof was once in the exact place that you are -- unsure and hopeful -- and she persevered against what was probably an even more difficult peer, and went on to be an educator. You can do the same, if that's your goal.

I completely understand your position; I have had professors which I desperately needed their approval and their passing grades. After I dropped a Chem class and then audited it and then took it again, I realized that their approval didn't matter. What mattered was my OWN approval, my self-respect. At that point, it didn't matter to me if I had to take that damn organic chem class sixteen or two hundred times. I was going to eventually prevail. I set a goal and I eventually realized it, and.......... this is the important part ............ after finally passing the class, I realized that the downcast eyes and the shrugs and the sad shakes of the head of the Professor (Bailey) didn't matter. What mattered is that I had reached my short-term goals.

The drama that a person that is construed as being "above" you isn't important. Perhaps they consider themselves the gatekeeper for your particular major. They are probably not a bad person. It doesn't matter if they are or aren't. What matters is that you rise to the occasion, define your goal and keep pecking at it until it has been accomplished.

I took my problems directed to the professor, and utilized what I thought of as "respectful annoyance." It is their job to educate. If you aren't getting it, then camp out on their office and make it known that you don't get it. If you DO get it, but are put off by their attitude, know that when you graduate, you will note care one whit about the changes they put you through, other than to know that you overcame adversity.

Good skill. I would wish you luck, but I think you already have that. Go get your goal.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:58 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

Interesting post and I think know exactly what you're feeling. Throughout the course of my four decades living this life I've learned--among other lessons--that no matter how whatever (smart, tough, fast, natural talent) you believe yourself to be or possess, someone somewhere out there has and exudes an air capable of intimidating you and chances are real good you're going to run into them at some point in your life. The oddest nuance of this inevitability is often the kind of person who will so easily intimidate us. That person could be short, tall; young, old; male or female--but annoyingly enough the odds favor them being someone we'd normally never pay a second glance. That's why it's so difficult to deal with.

If it helps, and also in my experience, often those who have most intimidated me have been less versed or skilled in the quality I assumed them to have mastered so much more proficiently than myself. The good news: you can learn a lot about yourself by realizing these kinds of intimidating people are in essence no better than you and often not as talented--even use them to unlock greater prowess in yourself by understanding them.

The bad news: as you've mentioned, if you're so busy ducking and covering every time they come near, your work or whatever will suffer because you've given them so much power over you. You must take that power back by learning all you can about this person in order to confirm what you already know: she's just as human and thus fallible as you.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:12 PM
Are you easily socially dominated by strong personalities on a regular basis? Sounds like just a confidence issue to me. You should never let anyone take your power away from you, doesn't matter who you are or what your status is in life. You should be inspired to find your own inner light that will shine just as powerfully as hers does.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:13 PM
And do you know what? in 20+ years of forum looking... this is one of the best topics...

You admitted you didn't know something socially which is SUUUPER hard.. and I do not think I would have.

I am very impressed by you for admitting this and trying to find help. This is the way modern social interaction is suppose to work for a benefit.

Do not mind the trolls... I'm a strong man and I deem you a strong person.

hats off

edit on 1-10-2014 by ArmyOfNobunaga because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:39 PM
You'll get over that problem when you hit forty or so.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:44 PM
My impression is that you are the one with some sort of insecurity issue. Meditate. Isolate. Discard.
I had an irrational crush on a skinny little Mormon girl. It was all I could do to make small talk. She could utter the smallest remark and strike me mute. I muscled through my hang ups and eventually realized that it was all a bunch of nothing.

edit on 1-10-2014 by skunkape23 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:15 PM
edit on 1-10-2014 by TheProphetMark because: delete lol foutwenti

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:26 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

Nechash had some really wonderful advice. Read that post a few times.

Is it only this particular teacher? Ever felt like this before with certain people? Do you have anxiety in other situations? I'm wondering if she has a tendency to call on people and you may have some other things going on.

What sort of mistakes are you making? If she's the type that call on people during class you might have a word with her about your anxiety. I would actually suggest this either way. People are surprisingly receptive when you are having a legitimate problem. I've been having a hard time with driving on the freeway (which seems bizarre to me) but something triggered it, and the more I ignored it or avoided it, the worse it got.

I had instructors with some very strong personalities when I was getting my AA in Criminal Justice. One had been a police chief and had two doctorates. She was actually my favorite, but scared the crap out of almost everyone else. We got along very well, and I quickly learned that despite the no-nonsense approach to teaching and being rather intimidating to most, she was very much a wonderful person that would bend over backwards to help students who were having issues.

Many campuses (if not all) will make some special accommodations for things like this if it's negatively effecting you're work/well being.

I just learned some new tricks that have been helping me. Breathe from your stomach, drop your shoulders and relax your face. Realize that you're in a safe situation and the worst thing that may happen really isn't bad at all. Have some water handy. Get to class early so you can pick a comfortable seat whether it's by the door or all the way in the back.

If you know your s_ and are a good student, I'm confident speaking to her or maybe even a counselor on campus may really help. Some people don't realize they're intimidating, they're just brusque by nature.

I'm going to echo some other members and say that you should seek approval from yourself first. You should feel confident since you're a good student, obviously bright, know the material and aren't too proud to ask for help and admit there's a problem.

Try to remember she probably has hundreds of students, and isn't always watching you specifically like a hawk, if ever.

Best of luck. Anxiety issues suck. I better stop rhyming or I'll get in trouble.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:40 PM
a reply to: chrismarco
Well said! And I appreciate your candor!

a reply to: Nechash
Your reply was really insightful, and I am grateful for the thought and time you put into it! I had not thought much about the teacher/student relationship as you described it, but that does make sense. It should be easier for me to relax since I do enjoy the subject material.

a reply to: argentus
Thank you for the encouraging words! I think that your idea about her seeing herself as a gatekeeper of sorts could be spot on. The class is one of the three prerequisites for applying to the nursing program (this one is microbiology), and I think that my other teachers for the other 2 have felt the same way but expressed it a little differently. Her approach is just a little different I suppose. Thankfully, I am doing well in the class so far, some days I just have to remind myself that I've got this!

a reply to: AphoticJoe
Thanks. It really helps to have someone remind me that she's human too. I've often wondered if she's an android.

a reply to: ArmyOfNobunaga
Thanks for the hats off.
I am strong. Well, compared to how I've been in the past. As many people in this thread have correctly pointed out, I've struggled with insecurity and confidence issues for most of my life. In the last year, I've improved in this significantly. It sounds silly, but I read this book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and it's really about having confidence in yourself and projecting it. I've been using much of it to guide my own self improvement and I'm making progress. Just have to keep it up and not let this experience set me back, hence my being able to ask for advice! One of the tenets of the book is to be humble and not afraid to ask for assistance.

a reply to: Domo1
Thanks Domo. I've had anxiety issues for a very long time. BUT, in the last couple of years I've managed to get a handle on addressing that, which has allowed me more recently to work on my self confidence levels. This particular situation has brought out anxiety issues that I haven't really felt much in the last couple of years. I'm trying to get a handle on it now, before I let myself become consumed by it.
And you're right, Necash's post was particularly insightful, and I have read it a couple of times.

Thanks to you all, you gave sound advice and fresh perspective. You helped pick up my spirits just enough for me to bring myself back up!

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 10:12 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

Thanks Domo. I've had anxiety issues for a very long time. BUT, in the last couple of years I've managed to get a handle on addressing that, which has allowed me more recently to work on my self confidence levels. This particular situation has brought out anxiety issues that I haven't really felt much in the last couple of years. I'm trying to get a handle on it now, before I let myself become consumed by it.

Glad to hear it. Mine snuck back up on me out of nowhere. I'm sure you'll kick it's ass.

I thought I was going crazy since you changed your avatar. I was pretty sure that I clicked on the right thread.

Also, it looks like all the replies were very good.
edit on 0120141020141 by Domo1 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 10:24 PM
a reply to: Domo1

I Love Lucy. lol. She always makes me smile!

edit on 1-10-2014 by MojaveBurning because: hm trouble posting

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:05 PM
There is some great advice in this thread. I never got nervous in high school, but I was more nervous when I started college. The change in environment was difficult for me. What always flustered me was being called upon in class. Not all professors did this, but some did. I had a good experience with making my fears known to he professor. He knew that I worked diligently and actually tried my best, and he never called on me again. I think that had I been goofing off or doing poorly he might not have been so accommodating. Now I do not think that it would always be the correct move to make such fears known to your professor, but it depends on the circumstances. But they are there to teach you. This is not the "real world" as it were, but is supposed to be a learning environment. That is the conclusion I came to and that is why I approached this particular teacher, as I figured that it was not inappropriate considering I was paying for the education. I knew there was a risk of the plan backfiring, and the professor could single me out and call on me even more, but I was sincere and told him about the anxiety it caused me.

Perhaps he would have been correct to make me face my fears on a regular basis, but I'm glad he did not. But on that note you should use this as a learning experience. I completely understand that I cannot tell you simply to not be nervous, as it doesn't work that way. Sometimes our fears are not logical, and it is human nature to a certain degree. Everyone is different. One thing that might help is attempting to focus only on the task at hand. Sort of like meditation, but instead of clearing your mind you are only clearing your mind of unnecessary distractions, including your nervousness.

You must also consider whether you have such feelings in other situations and with other people, which is indicative of a broader anxiety issue in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with that, and I do not mean to exacerbate any problems you may have by pointing them out to you. You know whether you have problems or not, and because of that you can have an idea as to what you need to work on. If this is a relatively isolated experience I would be surprised, because in my experience anxiety usually does not work in such a way, and as such there may be some other issue. Without delving too deeply, you should consider whether this could be a sexual attraction, as the symptoms you describe are of a similar nature. I noticed someone else raised that possibility, but you would likely know if this were the case. This would be something completely different from anxiety, and should thus be handled in a different manner.

What I want to stress is that you should try anything as opposed to doing the same thing you have done up until this point. You know what the result will be if you keep going in there with the same mindset and conditions, so some type of change has to be made. What changes is up to you. Or to put it another way, if you identify what you think the problem is then you can have some idea as to how you want to change the situation, and can take some step in that direction, which no matter how small is working towards change. You cannot really talk to the professor if she is not doing anything to single you out, and if it is just her nature that is causing you anxiety, since she cannot change that...And no one should ask another person to change their nature anyway. So in that case it would not be appropriate in my opinion. Do you perhaps feel that the professor is grouping you with the those in the class who do not share your dedication? If that is part of the issue, look for any sign that the professor appreciates your behavior and your work ethic, which will boost your confidence.

You could also attempt to talk to the professor outside/before/after class, but not to address your issues but rather to allow you to maybe see a different side of the woman. Just go up and ask her for advice on some random topic, whether class-related or not. That works in a variety of situations I've found. What it does is it automatically puts you in a position of deferring to the other person, which puts them at ease. Be very nice when you do this, and defer to her, and it will make her like you more. In a way it is manipulation, considering you have ulterior motives, but it is just a human interaction, and there is nothing wrong with such a thing imo. People manipulate others in this way all the time, but usually they don't realize it because it seems more natural. They don't have a deliberate plan, but it is the subconscious that kind of takes over and that is working for some kind of resolution. Anyway, I hope things work out for you. If you would like me to expand on any of these ideas or anything of that nature you can feel free to send me a message; I will do my best to help you, and you can count on discretion if that is an issue.

posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 11:32 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

Tell her how you feel. She probably won't temper the way she is just for you, professional people typically don't do that, but at least you'll have the air cleared.

Hard nosed or not, she probably gets a sense of how you'really feeling. She is human after all. If you don't say anything to confirm it, the tension will always be there.

I went through something like that with a female boss once. She was a Hardliner much in the same way your professor is. I told her that she has had quiet an effect on me.

What happened?

SHE got nervous at that point.

You might be surprised at how vulnerable people like that are. Under that hardshelled woman might be a vulnerable girl when confronted with this kind of truth.

Go easy on her.

posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 12:45 AM
I've been on both sides of these types of situations.
When you meet someone who you admire and who seems to embody qualities you consider ideal, you project upon them your own super-ego- your own internal authority.

That leaves you feeling like a car without a driver, and clumsiness, nervousness, loss of self control happens. You can get as far as imagining criticisms where they are not, coming from that person.

They might not be aware you are feeling this way, or they might, it depends upon the individual and their ability to understand others deeply. I have found that the most relief came to me when the person I was idealizing would use humor to lighten things, when I was putting too much pressure on myself in their presence. I did a training weekend with Buck Brannaman once, a horsetrainer that is just my idol, and he saw it- and when I'd start getting really nervous and trying so hard I'd be unable to perform at all, he'd make a joke and make me laugh. It allowed me to loosen up, mentally and physically, and things got better.

This is a professor, she must be aware of this phenomenon in students, but she might not be paying attention. Perhaps you are so low key she doesn't focus on you and has no idea. My advice would be this-

1 Remember that she is a separate human, and much of your ideas of her might be false- you are seeing through a filter of your own psyche! That which you think is so great, is a part of you. (otherwise, you would not be able to recognize it in another). Take back some of your projection in saying to yourself "her and I are the same in these ways. From watching her, I can learn how to manifest and exteriorize my inner qualities in an effective way." She is just an example you have chosen to focus on right now. She will not be the last.

2 Don't hesitate to mimick her when not in her presence. Some might not agree with this, but I find that that is the real purpose of focusing on someone we respect anyway- give yourself the permission to go with it. It helps speed up the process of taking back your projections.

3 Talk with her alone and let her know how you are feeling. It doesn't have to be a heavy discussion frought with sentiment and seriousness- it could be a light and humorous comment about how you really admire her, and that makes you feel nervous and stupid in front of her. If she has the brains you attribute to her, she will be able to respond in the future with trying to ease your discomfort and help you gain some confidence. She might even put more effort into giving you her attention and knowledge- knowing that you are so receptive.

That's just my two cents, coming from my own experiences with being on both sides of this type of thing.

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