Ever wonder why people gravitate toward some individuals and not others, maybe even you? It could be at a party or a professional networking event, but wherever you’re, there’s always someone people pay the most attention to. Being that go-to guy or gal will pay off at both work and in your personal life, notes Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead from Within, a global consultancy that has counseled heads of state, consulted with leaders of multinational companies and coached entrepreneurs.
But there are several reasons why some people just don’t seem approachable, even if they really are friendly and interesting. Here are ways to generate positive vibes and have people flocking to be your friends or bosses assigning you the next big project.
Reasons Why People Seem Unapproachable
1. Wearing a frown or unpleasant look on your face. This instantly steers people away from you. They perceive you as unhappy and negative and they don’t want that experience.
2. Being critical or judgmental. Most people don’t want to be the subject of your criticism or judgment, nor do they want to hear you bash others.
3. Using body language that closes yourself off. If you’re standing in a room with your arms crossed, that gives an instant signal that you do not want to be bothered and are not approachable.
4. Avoiding eye contact. If you stare at the ground or off in the distance, people cannot read your expression and will pass you by.
5. Putting up barriers. Even holding your glass in front of you or your mouth gives the impression that you don’t want to talk to anyone. Hold the glass at chest level or by your side.
How To Be More Approachable
1. Offer a compliment
By extending a compliment specific to a person, they’ll see that you’re taking the time to chat briefly with them. A quick “love that tie” or “great purse” to a co-worker in passing will give off positive vibes. Letting someone know that you love their shoes at a party may open up a window of opportunity to start speaking with them. Be sure your compliment is genuine, though, and not fake. Most people can sense the difference. Extending a compliment to someone and eliciting a smile in return also will brighten your day.
2. Simply smile
Shocker, right? The more you smile, the friendlier you seem to others, notes novelist Lisi Harrison. Also, studies show that people tend to mimic the expressions on others’ faces, so if you make it a habit to genuinely smile at others, they tend to smile right back. Another perk–research shows that simply smiling at others will make you happier, too.
3. Be engaged
Don’t hog the conversation or spotlight, but subtly encourage others. Listen to them, their stories. They’ll recognize you as a great listener and positive person.
4. Appear to be open and friendly
Pay attention to your body language and make eye contact, position yourself in front of the person and keep your arms open, says David Morin, social life expert. Do not pay more attention to your phone or turn your back on the person speaking. Also keep your head up, not down, so people can clearly see your face and make eye contact.
5. Try trait transfer
This is a tried and true technique shared by New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin where what you say about others influences how people feel and see you. If you talk highly of a co-worker, for example, then your audience will perceive you as someone who is just as worthy.
6. Ooze with energy
There’s actually a phenomenon called emotional contagion where people “catch” the emotions of other people and they really prefer to “catch” energetic, positive and upbeat moods. Even if you’re entering a boring business meeting, be positive and peppy. If you see yourself as more of a smart aleck with a little edginess, you can still present yourself as warm with those personality quirks.
7. Remember names
Calling someone by their first name during a conversation or passing by in the hall really means a lot to that person. You noticed them. That practice can go a long way in the work world.
So, even if you know you’re witty, you’re fun, you’re a great person, but you just aren’t drawing attention at networking events or social outings, reevaluate how you appear to others, what you say and how you act, because you might inadvertently be giving off signals that you’re unapproachable. Simple changes, such as making eye contact, offering up sincere compliments, and being positive will help to make you a magnet to others.