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Are You Approachable?

by Meredith Bell

Scott Ginsberg started wearing a name tag when he was a junior in college. The name tag simply said, "HELLO, my name is Scott." He did it just for fun, as an experiment, and it turned out that people were a lot friendlier and more willing to connect with him. They found him more approachable.
Nine years later, at age 29, Scott continues to wear a name tag 24/7. In fact, the name of his company and website is, "HELLO, my name is Scott," and his tagline is "That Guy with the Name Tag." He's published 8 books and is in great demand as a speaker and consultant.
What he's learned about being approachable is instructive for all of us. A common misconception when people hear the word "approachable" is thinking they have to take the initiative and approach everyone else. But that's not always true. Sometimes, you simply need to help people feel relaxed and comfortable.

So how do you do that? By asking great questions that draw out the other person, then really listening. And NOT waiting for your turn to speak.
Scott is a prolific list-maker. One of his lists consists of 6,000 questions he might ask someone as he's getting to know them. 6,000!
For example, instead of asking "So, what do you do?" after being introduced to someone, ask what Scott calls a "passion-finding" question-something like, "So, what keeps you busy when you're not working?"
If you engage people in a topic they care deeply about, the conversation flows naturally. You'll likely discover common ground that leads to further connections. And they'll think positively about you long after the conversation has ended...because you asked about what truly matters to them. Reflect on how rarely that happens in your own life.

So here's the Speed Tip for this issue.
Make a list of "passion-finding" questions you can use when you meet someone new.
Review these questions often, so they become a natural part of your conversation. And after you ask a question, really listen so you can ask good follow-up questions.
The connections you make with this approach will be deep and lasting. Because more than almost anything else, people want to be understood and appreciated. Masterful listening satisfies both needs.


Copyright © 2009 Meredith M. Bell
Meredith Bell is "Your Voice of Encouragement" and president of Performance Support Systems. Millions of participants worldwide have used 20/20 Insight, an onsite survey and development system that helps people become stronger for life and work. More free articles and videos at or