Whether you are an employee, or you are working at a managerial level, being approachable is a quality that you should imbibe in you.
Being approachable, specially at work, is the key to building strong interpersonal relationships with your colleagues.
We are all taught from a very young age that we should learn to be friendly, be a good listener and be open to other people. Imbibing these qualities and natural instincts into your workplace can greatly affect your work life.
What Does it Mean to be Approachable?
Your approachability is measured in terms of how you convey yourself to others in terms of your body language, your response to others as well as your appearance.
At the workplace, if your colleagues deem you as unfriendly, stuck up, and not an easy person to talk to, you are seen as unapproachable.
While it is true that some people are naturally more approachable than others, it is also possible to make yourself more approachable to others.
How can You be Approachable at Work?
It does not matter what kind of an industry you are working in; whether you are working under someone in an office, or you run your own business, being approachable is a key foundation for building up the pillars of how your work life will turn out.
If you are not seen as approachable, people will find it difficult to come up to you and initiate a conversation. If you are working in a leadership role, being approachable is even more essential.
Here are a few tips that can help you to manage well and become more approachable at work:
1. Your Body Language:
Your body language conveys to others what you are not telling them through your words. Maybe one of your colleagues come across you sitting at your desk and wish to come up and say hi to you. However, they decide not to.
So, What made them change their mind?
It is possible that you were sitting at your desk with your arms crossed and with a stern look on your face. Maybe you were doing this subconsciously, and did not mean to give off any wrong vibes. However, your body language made it seem like you do not wish to be approached.
It is important to maintain a good body language at work. This can make you seem more approachable.
2. Take Initiative:
This can be specially helpful if you are new to an office. Make the first move; smile at your colleagues and employers.
Learn to greet them every morning. Initiate conversations with your co-workers. As your office starts to see you as approachable, they will find it easier to approach you and talk to you.
By shutting yourself off and expecting people to come up to you first, you give off an air of arrogance and make yourself seem unapproachable.
3. A Smile Costs Nothing!
This superficially insignificant move can go a long way in building an image for you at work.
No one wants to approach someone who is always grumpy. A small smile can go a long way. People always find it easier to approach a smiling face.
4. Keep Doors Open:
A simple, unmindful move like this could make you seem unapproachable to your colleagues and your employees.
Keeping the door of your room open, sends a message to your office, saying that you are present, and you are not trying to avoid anyone.
People often find it more intimidating to approach someone at a higher authority when the door of their room is closed. They do not wish to disturb, or even worse, anger the person. Often, they will end up not approaching you at all.
Keeping your door open will give the impression that you are welcoming your colleagues to speak with you if required.
5. Be A Listener:
While speaking skills are important in a workplace, it is also important to be a good listener. Be mindful of your body language when you are listening to someone who speaks to you at work.
If you seem distracted with something, or are busy looking out of your window when someone is talking to you, it will make you seem unapproachable.
Instead, maintain eye contact with the person, nod and smile if you agree with what they are saying. Don’t interrupt them; however, make small vocalisations so that they know that you are keeping up with their chain of thought.
6. Don’t Be A Mystery:
Some people take pride in the way they are able to put up an air of mystery around themselves. While this characteristic might seem intriguing in a different environmental setting, it is least advisable to do so in the work place.
You can break the ice by sharing a hobby, or a story about yourself. It does not have to be very intimate or something that you don’t feel particularly comfortable sharing.
It is also advisable not to share personal stories. However, sharing short anecdotes about your personal experiences can be a great way for others in the work place to view you as friendly and approachable.
7. Show Your Humanistic Side:
Compassion, sympathy and empathy are some of the humanistic values which can make you seem more approachable at work.
If you show your colleagues that you care, it will help you showcase your human side to them. Your colleagues, employer or employees will not view you as someone who is simply a working machine, but will also view you as someone who has compassion, who is understanding and thus, is approachable.
Some of the simple ways in which you can show your compassion and empathy is
- By apologizing for a mistake at work if you are wrong,
- By extending your sympathies to a colleague or employee if they are upset over something,
- By congratulating them sincerely when they have achieved something.
8. Respect Everyone:
You have to try and be approachable not only to your boss or to your staff, but also to everyone else working at the office in all positions. This means that you must be polite, friendly and well-mannered with your working staff as well as customers and outsiders who might be coming to you for business meetings or otherwise.
This would help you to develop an ideal team work situation and in the long run help in getting returns both in terms of higher productivity from your employees and also building better business relationships.
9. Be Supportive:
Along with being a good listener, you can also share your ideas, thoughts and advice with your colleagues and employees.
You should be approachable enough so that your employees or co-workers can approach you with a problem; be it work related or personal, and you can extend a helping hand and your guidance to them.
Playing the role of a serious, hardworking worker is not enough. Ensure that your staff or colleagues can come up to you with a problem that they are facing, knowing that you will be ready to help them in any way possible.
10. Share Your Failures:
Another way that you can be approachable to your colleagues and employees is by helping them feel like they are a part of your successes as well as your failures in the workplace.
As helpful as it might be, share your stories of success in the workplace to build up team spirit and morale, it is also important to share your stories of failure.
This will make you look like a normal person who has their shares of ups and downs in the workplace, instead of some super-human robot who is only capable of hitting home runs. This will help you strengthen the bond and open lines of communication at the work place.
11. Ask Questions:
Taking an interest in the opinion of others at your work place can be a great move for building interpersonal relationships, helping others feel validated and allowing people to voice out their opinions.
Maybe you have a few great ideas up your sleeve which you are sure would be a success. However, give others a chance to express their opinions. Run the ideas by them and ask them what they think of it. Give them a chance to speak, and maybe share their own ideas with you.
By exercising this small move, you will help put your colleagues or employees at the work place at ease, making you more approachable to discuss ideas and share opinions with.
Don’t be quick to shut down ideas. Give others a fair chance to feel like their contributions are worthy at the work place.
12. If You Must disagree, Do It With Respect:
It is possible that someone is sharing their ideas, opinions or simply an incident that happened with them at your workplace. It is not necessary that you must agree with whatever is being told to you in order to seem approachable. There might be cases where you simply do not agree with what is being told to you.
Instead of lashing out, getting angry or shutting them down, learn how to disagree without disrespecting. Be calm and explain to the person why you do not agree with their idea or opinion expressed. Be sure to not disrespect the person’s opinion as you try to voice out your own. This will help you be more approachable as people will know that they can discuss their ideas with you without you reprimanding them for it.
13. Develop Good Communication Skills:
The trick to becoming more approachable at work is to develop good communication skills.
While it is great if you take the initiative and greet the person first, stopping the conversation dead in its tracks after the initial “Good Morning” can be quite harsh. Instead, extend the conversation by asking them how their project is progressing, or whether they caught the most popular show on TV the previous night.
This kind of friendly conversation will help you seem more approachable at work in the eyes of your co-workers and employees.
14. Be More Vocal About Your Actions:
Your co-workers or employees have shared an idea with you which they seemed pretty excited about. However, upon further thought, you decided that maybe it was not the best time to put the idea into action at that moment.
If you do not vocalise your decision with the person or do not explain the reason for your judgement, they might think that you are simply ignoring their idea and being arrogant about it.
Vocalize your thoughts and actions and explain exactly why you decided not to go ahead with the idea with the person involved. That way, they will know that you can be approached a second time if they come up with another idea without you shutting the idea down for no good reason.
15. Appreciate Others:
When someone at the work place has taken the effort to do something which is appreciable, take a few moments out to appreciate this effort.
Your silence will only be recognized as an air of arrogance and ego which you have built around you, even if you did not mean to do so. A simple ‘Thank You’ can be highly appreciated at the work place.
There is no single trick or hack to become more approachable at work. These are simple gestures, actions and behavioural changes that you can imbibe into your personality which will help you become more approachable at work.
Being approachable can work in your favour, as your colleagues or employees will be able to communicate more openly with you, which will help you create a good working environment and increase your overall business productivity.