How To Perfect The Art Of Approachability In 3 Ways
How approachable are you? Do you emanate a sense of warmth that empowers others to come talk with you? Or do you find yourself giving off vibes that warn people away?
Approachability is an essential trait for professionals—particularly for leaders—as it enables them to connect with their colleagues to understand their concerns and build strong relationships based on trust and respect. Approachable leaders create a positive work culture that fosters collaboration, communication and creativity. Being approachable also has personal benefits, such as increasing your likability and improving your social skills. When people feel comfortable approaching you, they are more likely to share their thoughts and ideas, which can lead to new opportunities and insights.
If you find your people skills to be lacking, brush up on your approachability. Here are a few easy tactics to try.
1. Make yourself available.
A great tactic for improving your approachability is to adopt an office hours policy. Consider university professors, who often have regular office hours on a weekly basis so students can come in and talk about the class or other related topics. Because these meetings don’t have formal agendas, students can be in charge of the conversation.
Set up a system in which you block off a couple of hours on your calendar for your team to come talk with you informally about whatever is on their mind. Communicate this idea to them. They may not always take you up on it, but knowing the opportunity is there can garner confidence. As a side benefit, it can help reduce the number of impromptu hallway conversations you find yourself in. “Come see me during office hours and we’ll discuss!” is the line you can use to implement your approachability within the boundaries and time limits you set for yourself.
2. Address people using their names.
Sometimes, leaders can forget how vital being seen is for employee happiness. In a busy world where we have so much on our minds, it can be so easy to give out an impersonal “Hey” when you run into someone at work or out in the world. So taking that extra step and using their name can really be meaningful.
Are names not your strength? There are hacks you can use! For example, in a team meeting, say something like”Some of us are newer here and may not know everyone. Let’s take a second for introductions.” Of course, you can always just be honest and say, “I know most of you, but I would like to have a refresher on everyone’s name before we begin. I will start.” That transparency and desire to know everyone will garner goodwill.
At larger events, ask people to wear name tags. Another trick is to spend 10 minutes alone before the event running through the list of attendees and trying to place faces to names. You can also ask a socially savvy colleague to help you with it. Even if you can’t put a face to a name, you may be able to eliminate any awkward pronunciation issues when first meeting someone.
Though names may not always seem important, they truly matter. Knowing and using the names of people you encounter will help showcase your approachability.
3. Show up.
In far too many companies, high-level leaders are rarely seen except for once a year at the holiday party. Despite your busy schedule, make sure you’re taking a noticeable interest in your company at all levels, whether that’s with a stroll through the lunch room or a tour of the warehouse.
If you’re a leader who travels to multiple offices across the United States or even internationally, stick around for a bit. Don’t just pop in, make your presentation and leave immediately. Take time to socialize at lunch or coffee hour afterward—without any agenda. Those informal moments are a great opportunity for someone to gather up the nerve to approach and make an introduction.
Approachability is a key factor in cultivating a positive leadership presence. Brushing up on your people skills will be beneficial to your career—and your company—in the long run.
This article has previously been featured on Forbes