11 body language mistakes that make you seem less approachable

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So much is conveyed through body language. 

Hunched shoulders, crossed arms, and a frown will inevitably make people feel like you don’t want to be bothered. 

I was rudely awakened to this fact when I was younger. 

I complained to my mom that no one wanted to speak to me at my friend’s birthday party, and she told me it’d help if I uncrossed my arms and actually smiled at people (I was a pretty shy kid). 

So, if you too feel like people avoid you, check out these 16 body language mistakes that make you seem less approachable – I’ll be sharing some tips on how to change things around!

1) Closed posture

I get it, crossing your legs or arms might actually just be more comfortable. It’s my preferred way to sit too.

But in doing so, you could be shutting yourself off to other people. Think about it this way:

When you see someone else hunched over, head down, limbs tucked in, it gives the impression that they want to be alone. 

So instead, try adopting a looser, relaxed position when in public. Keep your arms at your sides, or with your hands resting in your lap. This will make you much more approachable. 

2) Avoiding eye contact

Eye contact is a tricky one – some people just really struggle to meet the gaze of others without feeling uncomfortable. 

But in building trust and connections with others, it’s essential. 

If you’re guilty of shifting your eyes away or looking down when you’re talking, you give off the impression of either being untrustworthy or being uncomfortable. 

Try building up your tolerance to eye contact with people you’re close to first. Then slowly work your way to doing it with strangers. It’s all about practice! 

3) Checking your watch or phone frequently

Now for one of my pet peeves – when someone keeps checking their phone, I instantly want to cut the conversation and move on. 

Even if it’s just a nervous habit of yours, it’s rude

It shows the other person that you aren’t interested in what they’re saying. 

If this is something you struggle with, make it simple – put the phone away. Take off the watch. Hide your tablet in your bag. Remove the distractions, and instead, focus on the people around you. 

4) Invasion of personal space

If you’re close enough for me to smell what you had for breakfast on your breath, you’re too close. 

Sure, you might not realize you’re doing it, but that’s precisely what puts other people off – your lack of awareness.

So, the next time you go bounding forward to speak to someone, take a little step back. Look at their body language for cues. 

If they seem relaxed, you’re all good. If they tense up, you might be a bit close for comfort. 

5) Minimal facial expression

I have a friend who keeps her face deadpan no matter what I’m saying. 

I could tell her I’m pregnant with quintuplets and she would probably still maintain a “resting b*tch face”.

Although she’s probably just concentrating on listening, the lack of facial feedback is quite jarring. I never really know how she’s feeling or whether she understands what I’m saying. 

The solution to this one is quite simple: When someone says something funny, laugh. When they give good news, smile. And if they say something shocking, a gasp won’t hurt! 

6) Not nodding or showing affirmation

Following on from the previous point, nodding or shaking your head can also help you become more approachable. 

It just gives the indication to the other person that you’re following what they’re saying. Think of it as contributing to the overall flow of the conversation.  

7) Turning away or leaning out

Here’s a little scenario:

Someone sits next to you at a work meeting. You instinctively cross your legs and position your body facing away from them. 

You don’t intentionally mean to close yourself off from them, but that’s what ends up happening. They get the feeling you’re uncomfortable, so they don’t bother trying to talk to you. 

The next time you find yourself in this situation, try facing the person instead. Angle your body towards them. Smile and make eye contact. 

Just these little shifts in body language can make a huge difference. 

8) Excessive fidgeting

There was a guy I used to work with that couldn’t sit still. He literally looked like he had ants in his pants. 

Even though he was nice enough to chat with, his nervous energy was contagious. Most people left him alone because being around him for more than 5 minutes was stressful.

You might also notice yourself fidgeting. Perhaps you drum your fingers on the table, or you pick at your hair or lint on your clothes. 

Not only can this portray a sense of nervousness, but it can be mistaken for boredom too. 

One thing that could help is sitting on your hands. Might sound extreme, but it could stop you from fidgeting as much. 

9) Frowning or scowling

Some people naturally frown or scowl when they’re concentrating or trying to remember something. 

And if they do it enough, it can end up becoming a permanent feature. The problem with this is that it can give the impression that you’re unhappy or disapproving of what’s going on.

Try muscle-relaxing exercises. Look at yourself in the mirror and take note of how your face changes when you’re concentrating. 

By being aware, you can slowly get into the habit of relaxing your face whenever you feel it tense up. 

10) Overbearing gestures

Another body language mistake that might make you seem less approachable is if you’re wild with your gestures. 

I once sat at a dinner party next to a man who was so vigorous in his actions he nearly sent my glass of wine flying. It was overbearing and quite frankly, a bit annoying. 

Others might find it intimidating, especially if you’re dominating the conversation

I’d suggest just being more aware of the people around you. If you notice them flinching and drawing back, it might be time to reign in the hand movements a little bit. 

11) Sighing or rolling eyes

I don’t know about you, but rolling eyes just reminds me of a moody teenager who didn’t get their way.

And just like the mood teenager, it can make you seem less approachable. You give off an air of impatience. Or boredom. Or both.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to fix this. Try taking deep breaths when you feel exasperated, and if you must roll your eyes, just try to do it in private! 

So there we have it, 11 body language signs that make you seem less approachable – which are you going to work on?

Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. Keep practicing following the tips above and before you know it, people will feel much more relaxed in your company! 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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