A co-worker asked if I liked my job. I responded with "yes, very much so; I'm having a great time". Her response; "then you may want to inform your face". Ouch, her words hurt, and it was true. I had believed the lie that if I rushed around the office with a continual scowl then I would be perceived as serious about my work. I wanted to be diligent, stay focused on the task at hand and not waste time with idol talk, but I may have taken it a bit too far. I needed to find the happy medium between rebuffing the endless time suck of office politics and being approachable. A standard metric to gauge feedback is that for every negative comment received, there are seven others that have had a similar experience and don't engage in the feedback loop. Reasons include; they don't want to kick-off a potential conflict, don't think their voice will make a difference or just don't care. Application of this metric would determine that there were many others around me that were not willing to engage and mention the effect of my scowl on the work environment. I am grateful for this co-worker and the willingness to bring it to my attention. For me, the direct nature of the comment, helped the lesson stick. Bad news doesn't age well and approachability makes it easier for someone to share the news, free of the concern about becoming a dead messenger. I needed an outside observation to help me see clearly. You are probably more self-aware than I and well ahead of me, but it may be worth asking a couple confidants their thoughts. This input caused be to do some analysis, question my motives and helped me to start to change. On the family front, fear of approaching is good for the young man that wants to date my daughter, but it is not good if my daughter fears talking to me. If a co-worker had not cared enough to ask a question, communication would not have improved and the organization would have suffered. It is amazing how many people will say "hi" when you are dashing from meeting to meeting with a smile on your face; things are changing for the better.
Do you want to be approachable? Do those around you fear delivering bad news? What has informed your communication style? Have you changed over time? How do you know you are approachable? Who can you ask to get a straight answer? What changes do you need to make? What impact would you hope any change to make? What is one step you can take to make a change?