Have you ever just met someone but felt like you have known them forever?
Or, just met someone and instantly knew you liked them?
When this happened more than likely you were in deep rapport with this person.
In any interaction with another person when you are trying to influence them to do something; one of the most powerful strategies you can deploy is the power of Rapport.
Rapport is an unconscious ‘bond’ that happens when people interact with each other. Most of us are unaware of it and just happens naturally.
People tend to like people that are like them. So once you determine what it is that person likes and you can demonstrate that you too are similar there will be an unconscious bond.
The cool thing is it is a skill that you can learn. You can actually INDUCE rapport.
At this point I know you may be thinking…”Isn’t that kind of manipulative?”
Like any tool, it can be used for both good and bad outcomes. It really boils down to what your intent is.
Rapport is a subject that has entire books devoted to it but below I have given you my top 4 strategies to build deep rapport.
Rapport Strategy 1: Matching and Mirroring
Matching and Mirroring is the technique of mimicking the other persons behaviors. Unconsciously the other person will feel that you are just like them. (CAUTION: you don’t want to do EXACTLY the same thing as the other person at the EXACT same time as them.)
The reason is, first of all, they may think you are a weirdo but in addition they may think you are making fun of them and then you will have zero chance of influencing them because people don’t like people that make fun of them (see below).
There are many ways to mirror folks. Below are the easiest and most natural behaviors you can mirror.
- Language: Repeat back questions they ask you and use the words that they use. If they use a unique phrase, during your conversation weave that phrase into your verbiage.
- Posture: If you are both sitting, try and sit the same way they are. If they adjust their position and cross their legs, in few moments, very subtly you do the same. The key here is not to be so obvious.
- Gestures: Many people are very animated with their hands and use them to express their emotions. Think of someone you know that is very animated, if they were to explain to you how their boss is driving them nuts and is giving them a headache, they probably would put their hands up to their temples and begin to rub them. This would be a perfect opportunity to match this gesture AND repeat back their language.
- Overall mood: This one is a little harder for some people to grasp. We are taught, especially in a sales situation to always be happy and positive (which is good advice) but what trainers fail to mention is the risks associated with this and how to avoid them.
For example, let’s say you are frustrated or a bit unhappy and suddenly some guy or girl comes busting into your office and starts spewing out all this ‘happy’ ‘positive’ energy, how do you feel? You want to tell them buzz off right?
But what if when you are frustrated and complaining and somebody comes into your office and aligns with you and ‘elegantly’ agrees with you?
How do you feel about that person? YOU LOVE THEM!!
Because they are JUST LIKE YOU! They are part of the people that ‘get it’
Here’s how you do it. When you walk into someone’s office you determine their mood. Are they sad? Are they angry? It doesn’t matter what their mood is, you match it.
Then, AFTER you are in rapport you can then begin to lead them to the happy, positive state. (that is called pacing and leading and I will go into that in more detail in a later article)
Rapport Strategy 2: Be a likable person
This is pretty obvious.
Everyone knows people like to be around likeable people and hate to be around unlikeable people. This is probably the most important factor in building rapport because you could hit all the other strategies perfectly and if someone doesn’t like you…they aren’t going to buy from you or into you…plain and simple.
So how do you become more likeable?
- Have empathy: Show some genuine concern about what your audience is expressing. One way to make sure this happens it to get curious!
- Have a good a attitude: Nobody likes to be around a negative person, so make sure that you have a positive outlook on every situation. Even if you DO have some negative opinions and feel you need to express them..always follow up with another positive perspective.
- Use Names: This is one of the most powerful and UNDERUSED rapport building strategies…using someones name.
Someone’s name is the most recognized word in the human language to THEM. One reason people don’t use this strategy is because they can’t remember names. There are many techniques taught to remember names. But the one that works best for me is to repeat back their name three times in a row in a question format.
For example, let’s say I was just introduced to “Sally”. I would say something like this: “So Sally, what do you like to do outside of work?” This is great for finding common ground too (see below). I would listen with genuine interest and based on her answer, I would follow up with something like this: “Sally, that sounds interesting, what ever made you get into that!?”
- Smile: No explanation needed. And they are free!
Rapport Strategy 3: Be Presentable
That old saying, “you never get a second chance for a first impression” is so true. People will tend to make an unconscious decision about whether they like you or not within the first 5 seconds they meet you, and your appearance has a significant impact on that decision.
If their first impression is that they don’t like you, the rest of the rapport building techniques could work, but it will be an uphill battle, so let’s start out with the odds on our side.
- Dress: better to over dressed than to be under dressed. If you know for sure how your audience/prospect is going to dress, MATCH them. – hair: No weird, outlandish hair styles. –
- Shoes: This is a sneaky one. Most men don’t pay attention to their shoes, they will show up to a presentation in old, scuffed up shoes or sneakers; and that is a big no no because it makes them look ungroomed and unprofessional.
- Jewelry: Ladies, don’t wear any big gaudy jewelry.
Rapport Strategy 4 Find Common Ground
Remember people like people that are similar to them. You can find common ground numerous ways.
Here are a few:
- Values: What similar values do you have? Do you both thing family comes first? Are you both vegetarians?
- Experiences: What are some common experiences you have shared? Were you both in the military? Have you both gone through AA? Did you both have twin children? – Point of views: Are you both republican/democrat (let them bring it up)? Do you both thing gold is a good investment?
- Geographical Origins: Were both born in the same state, city? Did you go to the same college or rival schools? For example, one of my clients graduated from Arizona State and I graduated from University of Arizona and so we talked about which school had the best sports programs (unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a leg to stand on).
- Be an active listener: Parrot back to the audience what they just said to you so they know you were listening and understand their point of view.
Rapport is the foundation for influence and relationship building.
Master these four strategies and watch as your influence goes through the roof!