When trying to identify the reasons people attract success, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of qualities: Passionate about what they do. Confident about who they are. Energetic and enthusiastic about people, places, books, movies, travel. And approachable. The aura of being accessible and open is especially appealing in a world where technology threatens to obliterate one-on-one, face-to-face interactions.
How do I define approachable? Let’s start with the obvious: The Queen of England is not approachable. The president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, was not approachable. Justice Clarence Thomas is said to be unapproachable. Words like haughty, frosty, reserved, standoffish define these character types.Their reputation precedes them and they’re branded as difficult or different by their colleagues and supervisors.
For the rest of us, being approachable is a huge selling point especially if you’re building a stellar reputation. Approachable people are warm and interested in others. They value symmetry in their relationships so they’re willing to share information as well as receive it. They convey an openness that suggests tolerance and acceptance. They listen and they respond, forming easy connections that enable them to build a wide network.
Approachable people are fun. They know how to laugh and make light of difficult situations. They’re not focused on "gotcha", but rather on reframing a temporary difficulty and coming up with a logical solution. Approachable people make you feel as if you’re the most important person in the room. They’re so good at validating and supporting others that it’s easy to talk about them with a sense of reverence and awe.
Approachable people use their personal integrity to filter information, make decisions, support initiatives and take leadership roles. By defining themselves as confident, they are willing to tolerate dissension and disagreement, building a collaborative environment. Approachable people are the go-to people in any situation therefore they’re always in the position of trading favors.
When you’re building a career or launching a new business, you need all the help you can get. By being approachable, you’ll create a network of allies and mentors who will nurture your talents and support your endeavors. It takes courage to be open and accessible, to invite intimacy and closeness but boy, is it worth it.