Why is it that some people just appear to be more approachable than others? If you want to increase your approachability at work or in a personal or social setting, there are four things you can do:
1. Slow down your pace: Think about your movement–your pace. Are you walking at a brisk or hurried pace, sending the signal to others that you are “on a mission?” Sometimes you are on a mission and don’t want to be stopped. But has your fast pace become just a habit? Are you so task oriented that you don’t have time to interact with others? Or does walking quicker to get to your office or your chair or out of the building feel more comfortable for you? Whatever your reason, you will not be seen as approachable. This is something that I have been guilty of for many years, and I still have to be conscious of it, and intentional about slowing down. John Maxwell says, “Walk slowly through the crowd.” And I have to silently tell myself that when I am in the presence of others! You will notice that once you slow your pace, you will come across as more approachable.
2. Facial Expression: If you are an introvert, you probably spend a lot of time “in your head”. As an introvert, I know that when I am in my head, it is important for me to realize that my thoughts are reflected outward through my facial expressions. If you are shy or feeling nervous or uncomfortable in the presence of a group or an individual, you may also portray a facial expression that is not welcoming because of your internal feelings of discomfort. Be intentional by relaxing your jaw and parting your lips, developing more of a curious facial expression, which will be seen as more approachable.
3. Eye Contact: Similar to your facial expression, when you are in your head, you may not be making eye contact. Or perhaps you are uncomfortable with eye contact. Be aware and intentional about eye contact, and know that if you avoid it, you are sending the signal that you do not want others to approach you.
4. Initiate: Although by being intentional about making positive changes in the above three areas will help your approachability, taking the initiative is a huge step to becoming more approachable. If you are in a leadership position, keep in mind that many people subconsciously feel that their leader should initiate with them, even when their leader is friendly. Once you take the first step to approach others, they will feel more comfortable approaching you in the future.