Approachable

3 min read
fix me

Photo by surface on Unsplash

When we talk about cultivating an open work environment, the key aspect often overlooked is the power of approachability.

Getting to the point where we have a place that's psychologically safe for everyone, is not easy. This means feeling secure enough to take social risks, express opinions, openly disagree, and raise concerns without worrying about negative consequences or being forced to soften bad news.

As an introvert, adapting and becoming more approachable was a journey that required time and effort. That effort together with cultural implications, ended up opening my mind.

Since I couldn't expect everyone to adapt to me, in my particular case, moving abroad was one of the main triggers that forced me to reassess my approach which I now suggest to everyone looking to develop their skillsets.

Looking back

Monday morning quarterbacking, those difficult conversations, where I was receiving direct constructive feedback (not always well articulated) helped me to improve blind spots and alter misconceptions about my work, that I was completely ignoring.

As it takes courage to share important feedback, instead of blaming others, I recognized the need to shift my perspective on receiving feedback.

Fostering open discussions through one-on-one talks, casual chats, and informal coffee sessions brought about positive changes, from which I highlight:

  • Being more assertive when communicating.
  • Learning to share my critical thinking by being persuasive rather than confrontational.
  • Don't measure things with other people's rules.
  • Rambling less when asking difficult questions.
  • Asking people for opinions rather than waiting for approvals.
  • Asking before giving any type of advice.

In addition to those straightforward examples, one incident that particularly stood out was when I provided feedback to my direct manager about feeling micromanaged by stakeholders. Despite the validity of my perspective, I failed to consider all aspects. The primary reason for perceiving micromanagement was my lack of information sharing, inaccurate status reporting, and failure to update the issue tracker accordingly. In other words, I was the point of contact and I wasn't acting up to that role.

The point I'm emphasizing is that these sentiments are subjective, and fostering approachability can play a crucial role in bridging these gaps.

These are just a few examples of how these conversations led to continuous improvement.

Open up

As I have shared on other occasions, self-reflection and openly sharing vulnerabilities not only help uncover blind spots but also contribute to creating an approachable environment.

Having a trustworthy place where we can be honest without having all the lights on us, is an impressive perk that a company can have.

Normally used as a buzzword word, flat environments are not easy to build and demand effort from multiple sources, especially from managers.

That's why creating a more informal place, where all voices are heard regardless of your role or seniority encourages people to share opinions. In this regard, transparency in sharing both challenges and ongoing progress creates a sense of collaboration, while hermeticism fosters an environment of secrecy.

The approachability mindset, often underestimated, emerges as an option for positive change in the workplace. Embracing openness, sharing vulnerabilities, and promoting transparency all contribute to creating a culture where everyone feels heard and valued.

Thanks for reading ❤️

Written by Manu

I am a product-driven JavaScript developer, passionate about sharing experiences in the IT world, from a human-centric perspective.

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