Intimidating, standoffish, mean and aloof. These are not words you want people to use when they describe you. The sad reality is that people who create this perception in others are often not aware of it.
Think about it. Would you approach a snarly coworker to have a conversation about how she is perceived? Not unless you’re forced to do so.
Even if you pick up on clues along the way that people have problems with you, it’s easier to blame them. Or too much work. Or your boss. Or anything other than your own behavior.
Some people embrace their crusty, bad-humored demeanor. They falsely assume that this will help them gain respect. In fact, all it does is ensure that people won’t ask them questions, seek their input or give much credence to their opinions.
Want to find out if people think you’re unapproachable? Put on your most inviting smile, use a soothing voice, and ask a candid coworker (or two). Listen and don’t react. Above all, don’t get defensive. Just say “thanks” and get to work on a plan to change both your thinking and behavior. (This is one situation where a coach is extremely beneficial.)
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly” (Jim Rohn).
I have heard it said there are three valid options for responding to feedback: 1 – Thank you; 2 – Let me summarize what I hear you saying; and 3 – Clarifying questions. The important add-on is that the clarifying questions can’t come from a mental posture of you’re wrong and you need to prove your feedback is true. Those three banked away in my mind have helped in numerous situations when I wanted to figure out my response to feedback.