How to Look Approachable

Parties and other social functions can really be a drag sometimes. You stand by the punchbowl or sit down on a sofa and watch everybody else mingling, but nobody seems to want to chat with you. You're attractive, witty, and interesting - what's wrong with these people? It could be that you're sending out the wrong signals. You can easily use your body language to look more friendly and approachable. After all, no matter how beautiful you are or how good a conversationalist you can be, if you look serious, preoccupied or scared, people might not be inclined to talk to you.


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    Smile. A warm, inviting smile can put anyone at ease, and it also makes you look like you're having a great time. Smiling makes people want to be around you and get in on the fun.
    • If you catch someone's eye, be sure to give a little smile, and be sure to smile often during small talk. It lets people know you appreciate talking to them.
    • Smile with your eyes. When you do make eye contact, don't stare or glare. Instead, soften your eye expression and make your eyes "smile" or "twinkle" to show that you're friendly and interested in talking to the other person.
    • If you're not sure how to smile with your eyes, get in front of a mirror and practice smiling without using your mouth. For most people, the eyes are actually more important than the mouth in considering whether or not a smile is genuine.
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    Open up. When people are uncomfortable in a situation they have a tendency to close off from others and display closed body language. If you'd rather not be left alone, live it and show it.
    • Be curious about the people around you. Don't be afraid to ask people questions and start conversations.
    • Be ready for conversation. If someone starts a conversation with you, be receptive.
    • Make sure you're displaying your openness by angling yourself toward other people, sitting or standing with an upright (but not stiff) posture, and uncrossing your arms.
    • Observe in what ways other are open to you, or have been in the past. Try to get into their mindset and learn from their openness.
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    Use your eyes. Your eyes are not only your window to the world, they're also other people's window into you. If you bury your head in a book, stare at the floor, or look up at the ceiling, you close that window.
    • Scan your environment with your eyes, and don't be afraid to make eye contact with people.
    • You want to give direct eye contact, but not too much. The key to great eye contact is knowing when to look away and when to return to someone's eyes - like after you finish a sentence or when they are beginning to speak.
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    Consider what your body is projecting. We all speak with body language, and you don't have to actually say anything to communicate a message to others. Unfortunately, your body may not always say what you want it to.
    • If you are saying "I'm too busy" or "Leave me alone" with gestures like crossed arms or downward eye contact, it's likely people will not interact. Other people watch your body for cues, so it's important to pay attention to what cues you're displaying.
    • Hold yourself with a tall, open stance. Smile when you make eye contact with someone. Hold your body in a relaxed and easy and others will flock to you.
    • Avoid your phone. We all need to send a text once and while, but if you consistently check your phone no one will want to interfere with your busy self. To look approachable you must be accessible.
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    Beware of self-comfort gestures. It's okay to feel nervous, bored or unhappy, but if you really want to socialize and meet people you should be careful not to appear to have any of these negative emotions. If you pay attention to what your body is saying, you can avoid putting up these barriers.

    • Avoid touching your hand to your face, especially putting it over your mouth. If you have a drink, holding your glass by your mouth can give people the impression that you're not interested in talking to them.
    • Metronomic gestures, such as foot tapping, can signal impatience or boredom, so people may think you don't have time to talk or aren't interested in conversation.
    • Don't cross your arms, as it may make you appear cold and distant.
    • Other nervous habits — picking at your cuticles or biting your fingernails for instance — can also make you appear distant or lost in thought.
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    Approach others. If people aren't approaching you, why not go to them? Nothing makes you look more outgoing and approachable than actively seeking out people and talking to them.
    • Be open minded. A lot of times the reason why we don't approach anyone is because we're being overly judgmental of our surroundings as a defense mechanism. Let yourself appreciate others and truly believe that you can have a great conversation with anyone.
    • Talk about whatever. Although no one likes a babbler, when you're engaging in a conversation, the act is more important than the content. Don't worry about whether or not you're saying the right things. Focus on using your language clearly and talking about things that you think are interesting and the rest will follow.
    • If you're in an environment where you don't know anybody, the longer you wait alone, the more uncomfortable you're bound to feel. See how to talk to strangers for more advice on swiftly joining in the social cheer.
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    Address any deeper issues. The best way to look approachable is to actually enjoy yourself in social interactions. If you always feel anxious in social settings, you need to get over your anxiety.
    • Talk to friends and family about your social anxiety. Sometimes just letting it all out helps you understand your problems more.
    • Ask someone you trust to give you advice about overcoming anxiety. Maybe you have a friend that's really come out of her shell recently - try to learn what worked for her and what may work for you.
    • Seek out social situations. The only way to get to know yourself better and to reduce anxiety for the long term is to put yourself in situations that are outside of your comfort zone. Maybe make a few daily goals, like talking to a welcoming stranger in the coffee shop, or starting a conversation with someone you feel attracted to.
    • Consider professional help. If you feel overwhelmed by improving your social skills, it's not a bad reflection on you to seek professional help - you should be proud of yourself for taking a step. Everyone needs a little extra sometime, and professionals have a wealth of advice and experience to offer.


  • Don't immediately turn away if someone looks at you. Look into their eyes for a brief second then look away. It will make the other person more interested in you.
  • In a social situation, offer to help out in some way. Sometimes having a specific task may help you feel more focused than just standing around feeling awkward. It's a great way to meet others and be sociable without having to feel like you don't know what to do. Excellent tasks: cutting vegetables, washing dishes, keeping the music going, picking up used plates, etc. At the same time, don't over-focus and use the task as an excuse for not engaging in conversation.
  • If you're in a social situation with someone you have a crush on, just be a little extra careful not to come across as 'hot on their heels'. Talk to others and look at everyone.
  • Aside from body language, other elements of your appearance can affect how approachable you look. Dressing in clothing in light/bright colors with textures that look soft to the touch (think velvet, cashmere, angora, corduroy) will make you stand out more in a crowd and look more approachable.
  • Position yourself for conversation. If you're standing up, but everybody else is sitting down (or vice versa) people will find it difficult and somewhat awkward to talk to you. If you want to talk to someone, or if you are interacting with someone, position yourself so you can comfortably speak.
  • When you talk to a person don't tilt your face away from them. It makes things more awkward than if you were looking them in the eye.
  • Reading a newspaper, using your phone or listening to music with headphones can ease the monotony of a long train ride, but in situations where you want to look approachable lose these props.
  • When someone offers you help, accept it. As long as you know that it is safe. They might not find you friendly if you keep on declining. Moreover, if you have a chance to do a favor for them, don't be scared to do so. Just don't overdo it.

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Categories: Courteous Presentation