• Is distant and not easy to be around
  • May not be comfortable meeting new people
  • May be shy, cool, or a person of few words
  • Doesn’t reveal much; it can be hard to know what they are really like
  • Doesn’t build rapport, maybe a “let’s get on with it” type
  • May be a poor listener or appear uninterested
  • May not pick up on social cues that others would recognize
  • May appear tense
  • Is easy to approach and talk to
  • Spends extra effort to put others at ease
  • Can be warm, pleasant, and gracious
  • Is sensitive to and patient with the interpersonal anxieties of others
  • Builds rapport well
  • Is a good listener
  • Is proactive when getting informal and incomplete information in time for it to be useful
  • May waste too much time rapport building in meetings
  • May be misinterpreted as easy-going or easy to influence
  • May have too strong a desire to be liked
  • May avoid necessary negative or unpleasant transactions
  • May try to smooth over real issues and problems
  • Arrogant
  • Insensitive
  • Judgmental
  • Not interpersonally skilled
  • Not self confident
  • Shy
  • Busy, busy, busy
  • Too intense; can’t relax

How to be More Effective Performance Management Steps

Being approachable means putting others at ease so that they can be at their best. It means initiating rapport, listening, sharing, understanding, and comforting others. Approachable people get more information, know things earlier, and can get others to do more things. Others usually enjoy having them around.

Here are a few effective performance management steps to help you be more approachable at work:

  1. Initiate the conversation
  2. Being approachable demands you to initiate the communication. You must put out your hand first and be sure to maintain eye contact. You must be the first to ask a question or share a piece of information. You have to make the other person or group comfortable when you greet them.

  3. Listen proactively
  4. Approachable people are great at listening. They listen without interrupting and with attention. They listen to understand and often ask clarifying questions. They don’t judge instantly; judgment may come later. They restate what the other person has said to signal understanding. They nod. They may also jot down notes.

    Listeners don’t always offer advice or solutions unless it’s obvious the other person wants to know what they would do.

  5. Share things about yourself
  6. Approachable people share more information and get more in return. Confide your thinking on a business issue and invite the response of others. Pass on tidbits of information you think will help people do their jobs better or broaden their perspective.

    It’s also a good idea to disclose some things about yourself. It’s hard for people to relate to an enigma. Reveal things that people don’t need to know to do their jobs but will be interesting to them – and help them feel valued.

  7. Establish
  8. Approachable people know and remember important things about the people they work around, for, and with. As a rule of thumb, know three things about everybody: their interests, their children, and something you can chat about other than the business agenda.

    Treat life as a small world. If you ask a few questions, you’ll find you have something in common with virtually anyone. Establish things you can talk about with each person you work with that go beyond strictly work transactions. These need not be social. They could be issues of strategy, global events, or market shifts. The point is to forge common ground and connections.

  9. Watch your non-verbal’s
  10. Approachable people appear and sound open and relaxed. They smile and are calm. They maintain good eye contact. They nod while the other person is talking. They have an open body posture and speak in a paced and pleasant tone.

    During conversations, eliminate any disruptive habits, such as speaking too rapidly or forcefully, using strongly worded or loaded language, or going into too much detail. Watch out for signaling disinterest with actions like glancing at your phone or computer, fiddling with paperwork, or giving your impatient “I’m busy” look.

  11. Ask more questions
  12. Many people don’t ask enough curiosity questions when they are working. There are too many informational statements, conclusions, suggestions, and solutions and not enough questions such as: “what if,” “what are you thinking,” “how do you see that.”

    In studies, statements outweighed questions eight to one. So, ask more questions than others. Make fewer solution statements early in a discussion. Keep probing until you understand what others are trying to tell you.

  13. Know Selective approachability
  14. Many people are approachable with some people and not with others. Some might be approachable to direct reports and tense around senior management. List the people you can be approachable with and those you can’t. What do the people you are comfortable around have in common? What makes you feel uncomfortable? Is it level? Style? Gender? Race? Background?

    Of course, the principles and effective performance management steps of being approachable are the same regardless of the audience. Do what you do with the comfortable group with the uncomfortable groups. The results will be the same.

  15. DonShy
  16. Do you have trouble appearing vulnerable? Are you afraid of how people will react? Not sure of your social skills? As mentioned, put out your hand first. Make consistent eye contact and ask the first question. For low-risk practice, talk to strangers off work.

    Set a goal of meeting 10 new people at a social gathering; find out what you have in common with them. Initiate contact at your place of worship, at PTA meetings, in the neighborhood, at the supermarket, on a plane or a bus.

  17. Avoid Being Arrogant
  18. Arrogant people are seen as distant and impersonal loners who prefer their own ideas to anyone else’s. They purposefully, or not, devalue others and their contributions. This usually results in people feeling diminished, rejected, and angry. Arrogant people are more likely to provide answers, solutions, conclusions, and statements. That’s the staple of arrogant people. No listening. Instant output. Sharp reactions. If you don’t want to be that way, read your audience.

    Do you know what people look like when they are uncomfortable with you? Do they back up? Stumble over words? Cringe? Stand at the door hoping not to get invited in? You should work doubly hard at observing others. Especially during the first three minutes of an important transaction, work to make the person or group comfortable with you before the real agenda starts. Ask a question unrelated to the topic. Offer them a beverage. Share some personal information.

  19. As you become more approachable, you will invite more conflict
  20. If someone is angry, let them vent without saying anything other than you know. They are upset and it’s hard for most people to continue for very long with no encouragement or resistance.

    If someone is a chronic complainer, ask them to write down problems and solutions and then discuss it. This turns down the volume while hopefully moving them away from complaining. If someone wants to complain about someone else, ask if they have talked to the person. Encourage them to do so. If that doesn’t work, summarize what they have said without agreeing or disagreeing.

    Manage your time by gently interrupting to summarize or asking people to think about it more, then continue. Disclose things that can be said quickly. Defer extended conversations to other times. Approachability doesn’t mean you have to give up control of your time.

Final Thoughts

If you want others to talk to you without hesitation, make it easy for them. Always welcome a conversation and follow these effective performance management steps to appear more confident, open, and approachable.