7 Surprising Things That Can Make You Seem Unapproachable
by Margaux MacColl

When you first meet someone, you may naturally jump to conclusions about how friendly they are. From posture to eye contact, there are plenty of cues to take into consideration. While these snap judgments are often wrong, they have a huge impact on how we interact. If you want to avoid being perceived as unapproachable, it is important to think about all aspects of your communication.

Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show tells Bustle that approachability can be broken down into three categories: nonverbal, verbal, and written communication. This approach is useful to help you evaluate your interactions, especially if you are intending on coming off as friendly and open during certain contexts, like at work.

“People will say I'm careful about what I say and the way I say it,” Dr. Klapow says. “But your body language may be off.

If you are not careful, you can be perceived as unfriendly, preventing you from making valuable friendships and connections. But by being more aware of your interactions, you can come off as friendlier and more open to conversation. Here are seven ways you may be coming off as unapproachable without realizing it, according to experts.


You Dominate The Conversation


If you find yourself doing most of the talking, you may want to step back and reevaluate if you’re truly engaging with the other person. Even if you’re being friendly, you never want to have a one-sided conversation.

“If you are dominating the conversation, the signal that you send [...] is that I care about me and I care less about you,” Dr. Klapow says.

An simple remedy for this is to make sure that you’re giving others a chance to talk, and truly listening to them when they do.


You Cut People Off

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This doesn’t just mean during an argument— even in small talk you may find yourself inadvertently interrupting people. This can make you seem like you’re not listening to others.

“If you don't let somebody finish a sentence, then the message that you're sending is that you're more concerned about what you're thinking than what they have to say,” Dr. Klapow says.

By being self-aware and monitoring how you interact with others, you can insure that the people around you feel heard.


You Don’t Ask Questions

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If you’re not asking questions during a conversation, it could be interpreted that you don’t care about what the other person has to say. Dr. Klapow says it's important to reflect on how often you're talking about yourself, versus how often you’re encouraging others to talk.


You Speak Loudly


While some people have naturally loud voices, talking very loudly can be off-putting. Dr. Kaplow stresses that, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a loud voice, you should be aware of how it can be interpreted.

“A lot of times, it comes across as yelling,” he says.


You Don’t Make Eye Contact


Making eye contact can signal that you’re fully engaged in the conversation. Avoiding someone’s eyes sends the opposite message.

“You're basically saying that you're uncomfortable in that communication,” Dr. Klapow says.

This perceived discomfort can make you appear aloof and rub people the wrong way.


You Turn Away From People

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This is similar to eye contact. By facing people when they’re talking to you, you show them that they have your full attention. If your posture is facing away from someone, it can make you seem apathetic to the conversation. Dr. Klapow says it’s crucial to pay attention to this because your body language can be as important as the words you’re saying.

“The way your body is positioned can literally undo what your words are trying to say,” he says.


Your Emails Are Too Formal


The appropriate tone in emails varies from workplace to workplace, but Dr. Klapow says that our written communication often comes off as colder than we mean to sound.

“If you're trying to convey or communicate something to another person, in a text or email, you need to realize that there is a at least a 50% chance that it will be misunderstood,” he says.

He recommends reading emails out loud to make sure you’re really striking the intended tone.

It’s easy to appear unapproachable — it can come from your texts, body language, or even the volume of your voice. However, by being more aware of how you interact, it’s relatively easy to appear more open and friendly.