After all, it’s not about being the life of the party – it’s about bringing other people TO life AT the party.
Here are four ways to do so:
1. Be aware of the weight you have on people. A common mistake made by unapproachable leaders is forgetting to regularly share what they’re thinking and feeling. This confusion over where the leader stands causes stress in their followers. After all, when people never know what’s on your mind, it drives them crazy.
And ultimately, the weight you have on them will become so heavy that your unpredictability will create apprehension in their process of approaching you.
What’s more, let’s talk about the peril of passion. Sure, passion is beautiful because it’s enthusiastic and contagious. But be careful. Part of being an approachable leader is cultivating an awareness of how your energy affects others. Take a campfire, for example. Yes, it provides warmth. Yes, it provides inspiration. Yes, it provides heat to cook your s’mores.
But it can also burn you (and others) pretty good. Does your intensity wear others out?
2. Don’t overwhelm people with your knowledge. In Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber identifies two types of leaders: The ones who compliment other people they work with for their ideas, and the one who use their incredible brainpower to point out the flaws in others’ thinking and shoot down their ideas.
Hopefully, you’re the former. Because the secret is to share your knowledge without showcasing it. To present your ideas without hurling them. As Bob Lefton says in Leadership Through People Skills, “Resist the urge to unload advice on people who haven’t asked for it and aren’t ready to listen to it.”
If you have a lot of ideas to convey, chunk them down into small clusters. By spacing ideas effectively, they’re easier to digest. Otherwise people feel intimidated by a barrage of knowledge, which reduces receptivity. How does the way you use your intelligence come across to the people who work with you?
3. Don’t ignore signs of discomfort in others. That means refraining from telling a lot of insignificant, endless stories that have zero relevance to anyone. This is not only uncomfortable, but also annoying. And it leaves a perception of vanity – not value – in the minds of others.
And yet, tons of people practice this without invitation and it drives others up the wall. So consumed with telling their story, they pay little or no attention to people’s irritation, impatience or disgust. Scott Adams said it best in Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook, “Be obliged to stop rambling if your listener shows signs of starvation, coma or rigor mortis.”
Otherwise, people will experience you as being too selfish to acknowledge anyone else’s right to talk. And the problem with his communication pattern is that it (1) Leaves people wondering why they bothered to listen in the first place, and (2) Lowers the likelihood that they’ll come up TO, feel relaxed AROUND, open up WITH, comfortable walk away FROM and confidently return TO you.
The secret is becoming more mindful of declining receptivity in the people around you. In addition to uncomfortable scanning their watch to see how much longer they have to listen to you, remember to watch for these warning signs: Flat assertions. Impatience. Silence. Nervousness. Superficial questioning. Unquestioning agreement. Each of these are grounded in discomfort and declining receptivity. How listenable are you perceived as being?
4. Identify and disarm silent dialogues. Assumptions. Annoyances. Preoccupations. Concerns. Questions. This is just a sampling of the communication barriers floating around in people’s heads. See, the big question people are asking themselves (as they experience you) is, “Is this person the same on the inside, as he seems on the outside?”
For your sake, I hope the answer is yes. And here’s why. In Parker Palmer’s fantastic book, A Hidden Wholeness, he addresses this perception gap:
“When the answer to that question is yes, we relax. We believe that we are in the presence of integrity and feel secure enough to invest ourselves in the relationship. When the answer to that question is no, we go on high alert. Not knowing who or what are dealing with and feeling unsafe, we hunker down into a psychological foxhole and withhold the investment of our energy, commitment and gifts.”
Wow. What existing defensiveness do you need to diffuse?
REMEMBER: We always fall in love with those who help us fall in love with ourselves.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you make this person light up like a Christmas tree?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “7 Ways to Radically Raise Receptivity of Those You Serve,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
* * * *
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!