“You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door” (Henry Ward Beecher).
SOME PEOPLE WILL GIVE US ACCESS TO THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS MORE READILY THAN OTHERS. By their personalities, some are less inclined to be accessible than others, while others deliberately put up their guard in order to keep anyone from influencing them. Assuming that our motives are honorable and that we have something to communicate that would be worthwhile for others to receive, it takes wisdom to know the right “door” by which each individual may be approached. A particular approach may succeed with some and fail with others. Gaining helpful access to others’ thinking is one of the fascinating challenges of human communication.
But perhaps we should be less concerned about whether others are accessible to us and more about whether we are accessible to them. It’s easy to criticize another person for being unapproachable, but if we’re not careful, we may be guilty of the very same thing.
Consider two important qualities we will have if we are accessible.
Communicative. When we’ve learned to be accessible, we will welcome communication with our fellow human beings rather than run away from it. One dictionary defines “accessible” as “easy to talk to or get along with; friendly.” Those are, I suggest, admirable qualities.
Influenceable. Another meaning of “accessible” is “receptive, responsive, able to be persuaded,” and those are admirable qualities too. Granted, we need to be careful what ideas we allow to become fixtures in our minds, but if we are resistant and unwilling to be influenced at all, then we’ve cut ourselves off from good influences as well as the bad ones. People whom others can’t influence are people who don’t grow.
So I want to be accessible. If someone needs to say something to me, I don’t want them to be afraid to approach me and say it!
“Do not be inaccessible. None is so perfect that he does not need at times the advice of others . . . Even the most surpassing intellect should find a place for friendly counsel. Sovereignty itself must learn to lean. There are some that are incorrigible simply because they are inaccessible: they fall to ruin because none dares to extricate them. The highest should have the door open for friendship; it may prove the gate of help. A friend must be free to advise, and even to upbraid, without feeling embarrassed” (Baltasar Gracián).