October 4, 2008

Let’s face it, not all people are approachable. I know I’m not. Given the amount of material on how to be more likable and interesting, I’d guess most people think they’re not. But then again, I don’t really think any of that reading is helpful. So what are we to do?

If you are not naturally interested, friendly, sociable, or approachable, you need to figure out what gives people the wrong impression. In my case, I don’t like starting conversations; I will happily sit next to you and not speak. I’m also an awful listener because I have a hard time holding focus. And apparently, I just look like an intimidating person. I never have too many interesting things to say either, which is key to small talk. (sidenote: I do have friends, despite all of this.)

Then, all it comes down to is practice. I’ve worked on making a conscious effort to attempt conversations as often as possible. If it goes horribly, it doesn’t matter since I’ll probably never see the person again. No matter how hard I try to listen, it still doesn’t really work. So if I need to stay focused, I ask questions. It breaks things up for me so I can refocus (bonus points because no one wants to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back!). Smile a lot, laugh a lot, and stay on top of a few basic smalltalk issues (sports, weather, major current events, local events/places, etc).

Last, learn to turn it on and off and adjust according to the situation. You can’t be somebody else all the time. It gets tiring. But given the importance of first impressions, it never hurts to put in a little extra effort.


One comment

  1. Given what you said, I wonder if you’ve done an “MBTI” personality test and found out which type you are. I have not been approachable or sociable since I could remember. I suppose people of my personality (INTJ of the 16 MBTI types) are just this way. The fact is, we INTJ’s are happy (and busy) enough living in our own “thinking” world. Between acting non-natural yet still driving people away, and behaving naturally cold and solemn, I tend to pick the latter. Being not-me is simply too taxing. So, for the time being, I’ve given up on trying to be likable, knowing, however, that it is hurting me socially and costing me opportunities I may never know.

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