No one wants to be perceived as unapproachable. But sometimes, we aren’t self-aware enough to know what we are doing that puts people off. Try some of these techniques to show you do want interactions with others:
- Ask how you are perceived. Sometimes we live lives of self-deception: thinking we are just dandy, but causing some damage in our blind spots. Find those who care about your success in relationships and ask them for the “last 5%” of sensitive feedback about how you currently “come across” to others.
- Approach first. Model approachability by training yourself to stroll into offices and lunchrooms and ask questions of people without an agenda–other than just building relationships.
- Watch your body language. Approachable people are described as smiling, leaning forward with eagerness, nodding their head as to say “go on”, and giving approving (not piercing) eye contact. It’s setting the environment for the person to feel comfortable in your presence.
- Lead with light. A conversation starts to feel “heavy” right out of the chute, if getting right to business without an inquiry about the team member’s health/well-being/family/weekend. Sometimes, time stress is pressing, but do what you can to open with an emotional/relational connection.
- Tone it down. Especially with certain personality styles, your tone of voice will be the deciding factor of whether you are perceived approachable or not. A harsh answer, biting criticism, or dismissive comment projects an uncaring posture and drives people away from your influence.
- Respond, don’t react. Unapproachable people get that moniker often because they snap at people who ask questions, give negative feedback, or offer new ideas. Instead, listen to the end of what he/she has to say, and pause to reflect on your response. Usually, asking a non-threatening question is way better than leading with an emotionally-charged statement. Play with their idea; don’t smash it.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. People break off conversations with those who appear to be “holier-than-thou” with their communication of how smart they are about everything. Stay teachable. Every person that approaches you is a potential source of learning, and validation of their expertise will go a long way in their willingly returning to you for future dialogue. Would you rather be right or be in relationship?
- Remove barriers. Come out from behind your desk or choose a chair that is next to the teammate, instead of having anything between you both that might imply “separateness” or “power-posturing.”
These little habits will bring people toward you instead of pushing them away, which allows you both to Grow Forward! Contact me at www.paulcasey.org to book a free jump-start coaching session by phone or in Tri-Cities for your self-improvement!