How to Be More Approachable

Three Methods:Using Approachable Body LanguageLooking More Approachable through Other MethodsApproaching Others and Building Relationships

Easy changes in body language can make you more approachable, especially when trying to attract the attention of strangers or acquaintances. People who already know you will want to approach you for more serious conversation if you demonstrate humility, trustworthiness, and confidence. It can take effort to change your behavior this way, but the effort is well worth the deeper, more fruitful relationships.

Method 1
Using Approachable Body Language

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    Adopt an open posture. Keep your head up and your shoulders square, not slumped forward. While sitting, lean back slightly and make yourself comfortable. This posture leaves your face confidently exposed to the world, rather than closed off and unwelcoming.
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    Keep your arms in a welcoming position. Place your arms at your side or on your lap. If you are holding something or making gestures, keep your hands slightly to the side or near your lower torso.[1] Avoid unwelcoming positions, such as crossed arms or hands raised in front of your chest. Enthusiastic postures with hands raised above your head may make you harder to approach, although psychology studies are divided on this point.[2][3]
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    Smile. Simply smiling can make you seem much more approachable and inviting. A fake or forced smile isn't nearly as effective, though. Think of a happy memory, or a funny joke, to trigger a genuine smile.
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    Make eye contact. People are much more likely to approach someone who is looking directly at them, than someone who turns away or avoids their gaze. Prolonged eye contact and a smile can make all the difference. If you want to try something more flirtatious, here are a couple alternatives geared towards women:
    • For a bold flirt, make eye contact for a few seconds, smile slightly, then slowly turn head away to look at something else.[4]
    • To act cute and coy, briefly make eye contact with someone looking in your direction, then immediately look down or in another direction and smile.[5]

Method 2
Looking More Approachable through Other Methods

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    Avoid items that block your face. Sunglasses, hats, and scarves can all make your face harder to see. Even if they are not directly obscuring you, the psychological effect may make you seem more isolated and difficult to approach.[6]
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    Put down distracting items. If you're checking your phone or reading a book, other people may not want to interrupt you. You could even be missing out on glances, smiles, and other cues that could otherwise lead to a conversation.
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    Cultivate your appearance. It may seem shallow, but people who put effort into their appearance may end up looking more inviting. Consider ironing your clothes, dressing well, or even embarking on a makeover.
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    Pay attention to personal hygiene. Wash your body and hair regularly, brush your teeth, and keep your nails trimmed. Wear clean clothing, and remove mold from your house that may contribute to a persistent, unpleasant smell in clothing or accessories.

Method 3
Approaching Others and Building Relationships

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    Take an interest in others. When talking to another person, ask the occasional question about his life, and try to spend more time listening than talking. If he wants to open up, he may start a more in-depth conversation, and feel thankful for your interest. Make a habit of this to earn a reputation as an empathetic, approachable person.
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    Practice "drive-by compliments". These are pleasant, endearing surprises for other people in your life. Compliment someone's appearance, recent actions, or personality as you walk past. You can boost her mood, bolster your reputation as a pleasant person, and maybe even start a complimenting trend.
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    Come up with conversation topics. If you are trying to meet new people, being approachable is only half the battle. You'll have to convince them to stick around as well. Before you go to an event, come up with conversation topics to talk about. Stick with subjects you're interested in, but try to include at least one that is more "popular," such as a recent movie or piece of sports news, since you'll be more likely to meet someone who shares that interest.
    • Tailor your conversations to the type of event or location you're in. If most of the crowd is made up of students, you can talk about recent news on campus or an academic topic. At concerts and many other events, you can talk about the band, person, or art you've all gathered to watch.
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    Prepare answers to common questions. Someone asks you, "How's it going?" You answer: "Fine." Well, that conversation didn't go anywhere. Be ready for common questions like this and tell the other person something interesting that's happened in your life.[7] This can lead to an actual conversation, instead of awkward silence.
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    Know how to respond to cultural biases. Stereotypes, workplace politics, and even fashion opinions can make someone less likely to approach you. Make an effort to ask about the etiquette of a new town, workplace or other community. Many biases, such as those based on gender, age, and ethnicity, are impossible to avoid. However, recognize that many knee-jerk reactions are based on "implicit bias," meaning an unconscious and automatic response that may not reflect the other person's views.[8] If you make the effort to start a conversation or build a friendship, you may notice a very different reaction.
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    Avoid rude comments and gossip. Even if said as a joke, mean comments can upset others and make you seem rude and ungenerous. Try not to get involved in gossip, either, as it can earn you a reputation for spreading secrets or working behind people's backs.
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    Make an effort to include people in conversations. Make room for a newcomer joining a conversation, introduce him, or ask his name. Let someone in on an inside joke if he looks confused. Don't assume that someone wants to be left alone because he doesn't join in conversations or get invited to social events, Make an effort to approach people, and you may earn more and deeper friendships.
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    When you learn a secret, treat it seriously. Show other people that they can trust you. If you keep your promises and avoid betraying someone's trust, even someone you actively dislike, people around you may take note of your trustworthy behavior. Even if you find out the secret secondhand, don't help spread it around.

Tips

  • Pay attention to how people react to others in their personal space. Some people find it extremely uncomfortable to be touched, even by friends, family, or people they have known a long time.
  • In informal situations, or with people you know well, do not be afraid to slightly touch someone on his or her shoulder or arm. This creates a warm presence and adds a deeper connection.

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