Our world has become incredibly visual and add the classic logic to it, perceptions are largely visual. It might seem utterly illogical, but we do judge and form strong opinions on the basis of someone’s presence. Aren’t there times when you want to meet or talk to someone just because they look approachable? Looking pleasant is one of the greatest social assets you can have. It can open doors to unexpected opportunities.
Ever since I realised the power of visual presence and the success it brought to my career, I have been coaching clients specifically on this area. So in this article, I want to throw some light on visual approachability and how it works wonders, especially for those of us who have entrepreneurial aspirations. Here are three ways to increase your approachability quotient.
Relax your shoulder: Our shoulders tend to get stiff in a formal or social occasion. It happens even when we get ourselves clicked. The muscles around the neck and arms start getting stiff. Interesting researches are done in the US on the Forbes list of most influential people and their approachability quotient. I too have conducted such sample researches with my clients showing them pictures of 15 influential people and ranking them on the basis of their approachability. Interestingly, Barack Obama, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Laurene Powell Jobs have always topped my list not only because they are famous, but they all look easy, relaxed and warm, hence approachable.
Avoid negative facial expressions: Paul Ekman is the founder of seven global facial expressions – Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Surprise, Disgust and Contempt. One of the most negative amongst these is the ‘Contempt’ facial expression, which is popularly known as the smirk. At first it looks obvious not to gesture contempt, but surprisingly we all do it from time to time. Open Facebook pictures of random people from your friend list and you’ll know what I mean. It is a superior and condemning move. Instead, you want to have a simple smile and relaxed facial muscles with wide open eyes to look pleasant.
Dress your part: Dressing plays a crucial role to form initial impressions. It is not the most important tool, but certainly a powerful tool to display approachability. If business suits are not your style, avoid them by all means. When I started my own company, I changed my entire wardrobe to business formal suits without giving a thought to whether I liked them. Over the years, I have discarded most of my expensive business suits just because they are not my personal style. So it is important to dress well, be comfortable, and to remember your core personality. Dressing according to your personal style is the best thing you can do to look charismatic and approachable.