14 behaviors that can make you seem distant and unapproachable (even if you’re not)

Much of how people respond to us and feel about us is out of our control. Everybody has their own story, biases and perceptions when it comes to their reaction to others. 

But we do have some influence on how people perceive and react to us. 

How we behave has a big impact on how friendly and approachable we seem, and even though some of us may not realize it, this can make us lose out on some social opportunities. 

I know this myself as a person who can sometimes seem quite unapproachable, especially when I’m in a bad mood. 

Here’s a deeper look at behaviors that can make you seem hard to approach and get to know (even if it’s not the case). 

1) Using devices all the time 

Excessive use of electronic devices can be taken as a sign of disrespect by others.

Let’s be honest:

Many of us need to be on our phones or laptops for work and need close access to them day by day. 

But it’s best to avoid checking notifications while out with someone, for example, and to become aware and avoid this habit. 

I say this as somebody who’s occasionally been guilty of it myself, so there’s no judgment here! 

2) Checking the time all the time

Constantly looking at your phone or watch to check the time can suggest impatience or a desire to end the conversation.

Even if you don’t mean it that way, it’s easy for somebody to feel snubbed or like you are blowing them off. 

You may just be stressed about time and actually have to get to a meeting or appointment:

In that case it’s best to simply be direct and say so. Looking at the time a lot without saying why can definitely be taken as you being hard to talk to and distant.

On the subject of paying attention to the person or people interacting with you, I come to the next point… 

3) Avoidance of eye contact 

Lack of eye contact can convey a lack of engagement or interest in others.

It can also be when you’re not feeling very self-confident or secure around other people. 

But they don’t know that. 

And people may react to it in a way where they think you’re being unfriendly or standoffish when you’re actually just shy or uncomfortable. 

Do your best to make some eye contact. 

4) Closed-off body language

Crossing arms or standing with a closed posture can make you appear unapproachable.

You may just like standing that way and may be a more closed-off person in terms of the way you comport yourself. 

A lack of varied facial expressions can also make it difficult for others to gauge your emotions or receptiveness.

Making efforts to loosen up your body language and open up your stance and expression can do wonders in this department. 

This video from Improvement Pill is very good on some specific ways to open up your body and facial expressions to make a better impression and make more friends.

5) Rarely starting conversations 

Waiting for others to initiate conversations can create a perception of disinterest.

You may simply be shy or quite reserved. You may not be sure what to talk about. 

But it can definitely get taken the wrong way as you being distant or hard to interact with

A quick hack for this is to simply comment on practical and every day things if you’re around somebody and not sure what to talk about. 

6) Interrupting all the time

Interrupting others may convey a lack of interest in their opinions or experiences.

You may simply have an important point you’re trying to make or be extremely passionate. Frankly, that’s good! 

But no matter how passionate you are, it’s helpful to become self-aware about interrupting and decrease how much you do it. 

It makes you seem much easier to talk to and approachable, and I say that as a major interrupter myself! 

7) Turning down invitations

Regularly skipping social gatherings can give the impression of being distant or uninterested in social connections.

You may simply not be interested at the moment or have other things going on. 

But if it becomes a pattern with everyone it can definitely be taken the wrong way. 

In some cases it’s best to clarify that you’re an introvert and seek out fellow introverts who don’t like going out much as well. 

8) Being overly non-verbal

signs youre not as intelligent as you think you are 14 behaviors that can make you seem distant and unapproachable (even if you’re not)

Ignoring or not responding to greetings can make you appear unfriendly.

This may 100% not be the case. But it can seem like the case. 

Being overly non-verbal and not speaking your mind can make it seem like you’ve checked out and you just don’t give a damn. 

Working on your ability to vocalize is the name of the game, and while it can certainly be a challenge it’s always worth it. 

Speaking of not saying what you think, brings me to the next point… 

9) Being a clean freak and critical

Constantly expressing criticism without offering constructive feedback can distance others.

This can be in many ways, including criticizing somebody else’s cleanliness or organization. 

You may be much cleaner or more organized than your friend or colleague, but even if you’re trying to help them, it’s best to broach subjects like this slowly and without being too assertive

They are likely already struggling, and may take even well meant criticism as you acting like you’re above them. 

10) Being unappreciative 

Failing to express gratitude for others’ efforts can make you seem unappreciative.

You may feel a lot of appreciation but have trouble verbalizing it or find it awkward. 

I completely relate to that. 

But slowly getting in the habit of thanking others for what they do and praising their positive aspects and actions is a very empowering habit. 

11) Multitasking all the time

Trying to do too many things at once while in conversation may convey a lack of focus or interest.

This relates back to the point about avoiding checking the time too often or glancing at your devices. 

Multitasking can be vital at work, but even then it’s good (for example) to listen to your colleague while he or she is talking rather than scrolling a work task at the same time or listening to a voice message in one ear. 

Divide up your time and multitask when necessary, but be aware that it can sometimes be off-putting to people if you do it while they’re talking to you. 

12) Being overly casual

Phrases like “whatever” or “it’s all good,” can make you seem indifferent to others’ feelings or opinions.

You may be under the impression you’re just being easy-going, and perhaps you are. 

But if somebody is looking for a more definite answer, being too casual can make you come across as overly ambiguous and detached. 

Caring can be cool, and as long as you say it in a respectful way, giving a strong opinion on something is fine and will ultimately be respected much more by most other people. 

13) Giving short, curt responses

Responding with minimal words can make you seem uninterested in engaging in a meaningful conversation.

This might not be your intention at all: you may just be an all business type of person who doesn’t verbalize responses much. 

You say what you mean and don’t sugarcoat it much. You’re actually a perfectly pleasant person, but your curt responses and manner make some people think you’re a bit severe.   

14) Rarely smiling or laughing

Barely ever smiling can be interpreted as a lack of warmth or friendliness. The same goes for rarely or never laughing.

You might be going through a hard time. Or you may simply be quite a serious person. 

But making an effort to show outer signs of appreciation for others can do wonders in terms of making them warm up to you. 

Becoming more approachable

Clearly these behaviors above are not indicative of a person’s true feelings or intentions, but they can create a perception of distance and unapproachability. 

Being mindful of these behaviors can help improve communication and relationships.

Becoming more approachable is a matter of growing self-awareness and learning to display friendlier and more personable behaviors to others around you.

Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00