Being approachable, specially at work, is the key to building strong interpersonal relationships with your colleagues.
Whether you are an employee, or you are working at a managerial level, being approachable is a quality that you should imbibe in yourself. 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.
Managing Well At Work
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 may come across you sitting at your desk and wish to come up and say hi to you. However, they decide not to. 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 good body language at work. This can make you seem more approachable.
2. Take Initiative:
This can be especially 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Don’t be quick to shut down ideas
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. Be calm and explain to the person why you do not agree with their idea or opinion expressed.
13. 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.