How to be TOO approachable

Yes, it IS possible to be TOO approachable.

Here’s how…

1. Over actively listen. If you nod TOO much, smile TOO much and agree TOO much, your conversation partner is going not going to like you … TOO much!

Avoid focusing ALL your attention on “coming off as a good listener.” Just relax.

The moment you TRY to be authentic is the moment you STOP being authentic.

Listening is about focusing on the OTHER person’s words; not YOUR own abilities.

2. Early vulnerability. Yes, vulnerability can be approachable. Admitting that you don’t know the answer or have been completely terrified before is a surefire way to encourage comfort.

HOWEVER: don’t be too vulnerable too quickly.

It may come off like you’re trying TOO hard to build rapport. And intentionality often reduces authenticity.

3. Ask too many questions. First of all, it can come off as too goal-oriented, too forced and too planned.

Secondly, it projects a rapport-seeking attitude, instead of rapport-attracting attitude.

Thirdly, it will appear that you have nothing of value to share yourself.

And lastly, asking too many questions makes the other person feel like she’s being interviewed or interrogated.

4. Force the kinesthetic. Lightly touching someone’s arm, elbow or any other non-threatening body part during the conversation is a good tip for building rapport.

Just don’t do it TOO much. People will check you off immediately.

5. Use names too often. If you repeat the person’s name TOO often, it comes off as sales-y, forced and inauthentic.

Depending on the length of your conversation, try to use the other person’s name once at the introduction, once in the middle and once at the goodbye. That’s enough!

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

NOTE: if you talk for more than seven minutes, it’s OK to
increase Name Drop Frequency.

6. Forced familiarity. Discovering the CPI (Common Point of Interest) is essential for connecting.

But, don’t try TOO hard. Unnecessarily fishing for commonalities can make you look desperate if you’re trying to hard to stretch it.

If you have nothing in common, let it go. Don’t force familiarity.

What makes someone TOO approachable?

Share your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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Why you need a cool company name

The cashier swiped my credit card.

She looked closely at the name.

HELLO, my name is Scott…?” she said, “What is that?”

“Oh, that’s the name of my company,” I smiled.

“Really? So what do you do?”

“I wear a nametag all the time.”

She furrowed her brow and tilted her head.

“Are you serious?” she chuckled.

“Yep! And I write books, speeches and training materials on approachability.”

“Ohhhhh,” she nodded. “I get it – that is so cool!”

She handed the card back to me. I thanked Susie for her help and headed out to my car.

And by the time I got back to the office, the lesson was obvious: cool names work!

Not cute. Cool.

Smart. Fun. Eye catching. EAR catching.

HERE’S WHY: In a world of infinite choice, it’s impossible for customers to keep all those company names straight.

That’s why you need to try extra hard.

Because acronyms suck.
Because nobody notices normal.
Because the world is crying for uniqueness.

SO, HERE’S YOUR CHALLENGE: when naming your company, make it cool.

And make it unconfusable.

Because creativity is magnetic.
Because monograms are NOT brands.
Because generic names generate generic business.

And what you’ll discover (especially in conversations) is that cool company names tend to follow a three-step pattern of dialogue:

FIRST, someone says, “Huh?”

But wait, this is good! Because of your cool company name:

1. You’ve surprised them.
2. You’ve broken their patterns.
3. You’ve attracted their attention.

And the best way to capture someone’s attention is to B-R-E-A-K their patterns.

What’s more, you’ve created a hint of anxiety in the air. And this is the best time to give someone new ideas.

SECOND, you articulate your company’s value.

Your USP. Your value statement. Your positioning statement.

Make sure it’s clear, concise and emotional. No more than ten words. Leave no doubt in the other person’s mind what you do and how your company delivers value.

Consider the formula described in John Jansch’s Duct Tape Marketing:

Action Verb (what you actually do)
Noun (target market you do it for)
Benefit (the result of what you do)

For example, “I teach nurse practitioners how to provide more empathetic patient care.”

JUST REMEMBER: Surprise attracts attention, but only interest keeps attention.

THIRDLY, you await the “Aha!”

At this point in your conversation, you’ve already attracted someone’s attention. You’ve already delivered your value statement.

Now comes the best part.

You’ve heard of the “Aha moment,” right?

Well, the challenge is framing your conversation in a way that supports it.

See, the only reason the “Aha!” is effective is because you FIRST got the person to say, “Huh?”

That’s the magic of these three steps, when used properly. Huh?, then value, then Aha!

THE BEST PART: when you sandwich these two emotions (Huh? And Aha!) around your value statement, three things happen to your conversation partner:

1. You become awfully hard for her to resist.
2. You become awfully hard for her to forget.
3. You becomes awfully hard for her (not) to tell other people about.

AND LET’S FACE IT: the only time companies are successful is when people are actively and positively talking about them.


If you break patterns, you get noticed.
If you get noticed, you get remembered.
If you get remembered, you get business.

Do yourself a favor. Get a cool company name.

What’s the coolest company name you’ve ever seen?

Share how you reacted when you first saw it.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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The World is a Mirror, Part 7


In his basic writings, Freud explains that a person’s name is the single context of memory most apt to be forgotten. Guess Dale Carnegie forgot to mention that, huh?!

But we’ve all done it. We all do it. And we’ll continue to do it, unless we take the right steps to avoid this barrier to approachability.

Now, even if you have blanked out on a person’s name, and even if it happened at the worst possible moment, trust me, you don’t know how bad it can get. See, when I forget someone’s name, people act like it’s the ultimate sin. The gravest social no-no in the world! Hey Scott, do you remember my name? Come on Mr. Nametag, this should be easy for you right? Right? Come on!

People love to test me. And sometimes, it’s tough. After all, I speak to tens of thousands of people a year! I can’t remember all of them! So, in the event that I do forget a name – which happens every once in a while – not only does it offend them (more so than if I were someone else) but it makes me look like a hypocrite!

Therein lies the problem: wearing a nametag is great to help other people remember my name; but it does me no good when I blank out on theirs. So, people just expect me to always remember their names, simply from a reciprocal standpoint; which, if you think about it, isn’t really fair.

But, such is life. So, several years ago when I got tired of disappointing people when I forgot their names (even though I AM human), I made it a point to improve my name-remembering skills.

The first thing I did was change my attitude. I’d say to myself, “I am going to remember the name of everyone I meet today!” and “I am amazing at remembering names!”

Next, I read several books on the topic, the best of which was Remember Every Name Every Time.

Then I began learning why people forget names and writing articles on the subject. This was a great way to organize my thoughts and stay refreshed on effective techniques for remembering names.

But of course, reading and writing only got me so far. I had to start putting these ideas to work. For example, this week I spoke to an international student leadership group in Switzerland. 45 kids, 45 names, all of which were different. My goal was to memorize every one of their names by the second day. Here’s how I did it:

Quizzing: any time I saw any of the students from a distance, I recited their name in my head five times before approaching them.

Vocalizing: any time I talked with one of the students, I verbally used their name at least one time during the conversation.

Refreshers: any time I had a break, I’d find my way over to the students’ mailboxes. These were small envelopes on which their names were printed. I would peruse all 45 of the mailboxes while trying to picture the student in my mind.

Assistance: if I wasn’t sure of someone’s name, I’d ask one of the other staff members in private.

Reminders: if we sat in a circle, I’d take time at the beginning and end of the program to go around and say the person’s name to myself while looking at their face.

If that sounds like a lot of work, you’re right – it is! But it’s worth it. And in six years, if there’s one compliment I’ve received quite a lot, it’s in reference to my name remembering abilities. And while I don’t claim to remember every name every time, I will say that I’m pretty damn good.

Therefore, I give thanks to my nametag for FORCING me to develop this valuable skill. And I guess in end, if everyone knows my name, I may as well do whatever I can to remember theirs.

Do you remember the last time you forgot someone’s name?

Study some name remembering techniques from this article. Try them out and see which ones work!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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