If you’re having communication issues with the people on your team, it could be that you are unapproachable.
When you’re unapproachable, this results in team members not giving you information in a timely manner, avoiding you unless you approach them first, and quite simply, they will demonstrate a lack of trust in you.
You never want someone on your team to be afraid to approach you for fear of how you’ll react.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to discover if you are being unapproachable:
Are you giving your team more negative feedback than positive?
Do you leave your desk to talk to your team, or do you make them come to you?
When you receive bad news, what is your reaction? Do you accept the information with poise and grace, or do you role your eyes, harrumph, and get defensive or start blaming?
If you are talking to a team member and the phone rings, do you stop the conversation to take the call?
Do you cross your arms when speaking your team members?
When a team member is trying to communicate with you, do you stop what you are doing, smile, and make eye contact for the entire conversation?
Be honest with yourself. Take the time to reflect on your behavior with your team.
If I’m being honest with myself, the reason I wrote this post is because I’m not the most approachable person on the team. I do find myself crossing my arms when speaking with team members. I don’t always stop what I’m doing and make eye contact. Heck, I think I rarely even smile much in a typical work day.
I’m beginning to understand though that these things are crucial to a pleasant work environment. Not only for my team, but for myself.
Here’s what I’m learning:
If I react badly when someone communicates with me, they are not going to want to communicate with me. Like duh! The key here is taking time to slow down, get all the information, and then decide how I’m going to act. (Not react. Acting meaning deciding to take strategic action to resolve the problem. Reacting is letting is whatever emotion comes up first just spill from me and it’s usually negative.) A phrase that works well is, “That’s interesting. What else do I need to know?” No matter what anyone tells me, this phrase works.
Team Member: My buyer’s lender called me this morning and the buyer is in danger of not qualifying for the loan because he bought a new truck last week.”
Me: That’s interesting. What else do I need to know?
Of course, my first instinct is to say, “Are you kidding me? I told that guy he needed to talk to the lender before buying that truck! I can’t believe he didn’t listen to me! What an idiot!”
Even though I’m not mad at my team member, I’m still spewing negativity. And if you’re trying to tell me something and I come back at you negatively or judgmentally, you’ll do what you can to circumvent me. Then we don’t have communication problems; we have non-communication problems.
In a nutshell, being approachable means…
- showing warmth and smiling
- being easy to talk to (withhold judgment, stay in curiosity)
- no drama
- thanking team members for bringing things to your attention
- no sarcasm
- consistency with your actions
- being calm in every situation
- show you are listening with uncrossed arms and eye contact
- overlooking a team member’s lack of skills in message delivery
- being able to disagree with respect
What’s one thing you can commit to doing daily to be more approachable? Let me know! Write a comment or send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that if you implement just one thing from this post, your working days are going to improve!