Do you think you’re approachable? Do you believe everyone in your office feels comfortable talking to you, see’s you as the guy to go to if they have a problem, or need some advice? Well, first and foremost, you’re so wrong.
Of course, you’re not looking to be everybody’s friend, that’s not what a boss does. But, the chances are you like to think you’re personable. Sadly, a lot of people believe that because they feel inwardly personable, that they come across the same way, and it’s a hard lesson to learn when you realise actually, you’re really not that approachable.
However, you don’t need to worry just yet, there’s lots you can do to improve this. Firstly, it is important to recognise that most people don’t have enough self awareness to even consider that they may not be approachable. So the fact you’re looking in the mirror and asking yourself how you can improve, is pretty amazing, and miles ahead of many people in a similar position to you.
Secondly, there’s lots you can do to improve how you do come across and it’s healthy to reflect on your approach from time to time, in order to enable yourself to grow as a person. Being more approachable and personable is a great skill, especially when you’re in a position of authority, here are some ways to improve it:
It may seem a bit boring, a bit obvious even, but studies have proved it really makes a difference. It makes you more approachable, makes you seem more friendly, makes you more memorable and as a bonus, it also makes you more attractive. Also, faking a smile for around 30 seconds actually triggers your brain to think you’re actually happy, causing you to smile for real. So fake it till you make it and get those pearly whites out.
You need to bond with your colleagues and employees, and that means sharing. Of course, it is not advisable to get overly emotional with anyone, talking about how your impending divorce is causing you to watch every rom com on Netflix over a family sized packet of Aero Bubbles. However, simply having some conversations with people, asking them general questions about what they got up to at the weekend and telling them about yours, will establish a level of openness, trust and make you seem more transparent and approachable.
Make sure you are interacting with lots of different people, so you have a physical and virtual ‘open door’. Start a conversation with Jim from accounts, email Ronda from the CS department and ask her how she’s doing – anyone you usually communicate with – step the communication up and open up lines of communication with people you don’t usually speak to. You can’t be approachable if you don’t approach anyone yourself.
Take An Interest In The People, Not Just Their Work
Keep up to date with team meetings and one on ones and don’t be afraid to ask to be involved in the odd line manager meeting or HR meeting – show you are interested in what is going on around you. Make casual conversation and try to show an interest in how the other people or person is feeling, don’t keep everything about work – take an interest in the people, not just the work they are doing.
Learn To Listen
Bosses are famous for loving the sound of their own voice. Don’t be that guy, be the guy that listens and actually hears what is being said. Practise body language that shows you are listening – nodding your head, making eye contact, asking questions and responding to what has been said without judgement.
Open Up Your Body Language
A tiny percentage of our communication comes from speech. Often it’s the way we move and place our bodies that say the most about us. Practise opening up your body language to ensure you look approachable. Always try to gesture with your palms open, never cross your arms, try to maintain a neutral stance with your feet hip width apart and your feet facing forward, and make eye contact as you walk through the office, smiling as people catch your eye.
Remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to be an approachable boss, but there are always ways to be a ‘better’ boss. As long as you’re always striving for improvement, you’ll always be on the path to success.