How to Be a (Professional) People Person

Being approachable is key for a manager, but unfortunately not everyone is naturally warm and friendly. Having a slightly cold demeanor can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and even create unnecessary tension. The good news is that with a few simple tips, you can seem far more approachable and open. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Nonverbal cues.
Some people’s resting faces are naturally unhappy-looking. This combined with bad body language habits like crossing your arms can make you seem incredibly intimidating. By paying attention to what you’re doing with your face and body, you can convey how friendly you truly are. This doesn’t mean that you need to be grinning widely and ready to embrace someone at any moment, but having a pleasant expression and posture that isn’t closed off will go a long way.

Empathy.
It can be difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, particularly when you adamantly disagree with what they have to say. But if you can manage to understand where they’re coming from, and show that you do, they will appreciate your empathy. The simple phrases “I understand” and “that must be difficult” demonstrate that you have given thought to a different perspective.

Genuine interest.
While it’s important to have a distinction between professional and personal lives (though that line is different for every person and employer), it’s also important to cultivate a genuine interest in your employees. Ask them how their kid’s piano recital was, or if they found a contractor to fix the hole in their roof. Also be willing to reciprocate and share details about yourself and your life. This helps to build relationships and establishes trust.

Recognition.
It’s easy to get caught up in goals and everything you and your team need to do to accomplish them. However, it’s important to take a step back and recognize the people who are going above and beyond. This too shows that you pay attention and care about the great things that they’re doing.

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