No man is an island (quote courtesy of John Donne) …
… and the most valuable currency among men (and women) is trust.
Trust is why we get up in the morning and do what we do.
Trust is why people get married.
Trust is why you are reading this article right now.
I hope to keep that trust by fulfilling my promise to teach you how to build rapport, the process of gaining trust and understanding, with anyone.
The techniques that I am about to introduce are based on three key ideas about people:
People care deeply about themselves
People want to feel important
People like and trust familiar things
So if you want to build rapport, you should:
Get People to Talk about Themselves
The best conversationalists are usually the ones that never say a word about themselves. They are great at generating the trust building cycle of asking questions, listening actively and giving back what was said. This requires you to be present, which tells the person that you have made them your first priority. Although you can get someone to talk about themselves by rattling off a generic list of questions, this technique is most effective when you have a genuine interest and curiosity in the other person.
Remember Their Names
Nothing is more important to a person than their name. Just think back to the time when someone called you by the wrong name. Taking effort to learn someone’s name when you first meet is a real compliment and it makes that person feel important. Click here if you want to learn how to remember names even if you have bad memory.
Match their Body Language, Vocal Variety, Verbal Language, etc
An excellent way to build rapport is by matching the other person’s posture, gesture, speech, etc. because the subconscious picks up on and likes familiarity. If the person you are talking with speaks slowly, gestures emphatically and sits cross-legged, you should also speak slowly, gesture strongly and cross your own legs if you want to build rapport.
I was initially hesitant to use this technique for the fear of being accused of mocking the other person but having done it both consciously and subconsciously many times, I have realized that the other person doesn’t even notice. When you have excellent rapport with someone, the other person begins to subconsciously match you. You can test the strength of your rapport by changing your body language and observe whether the other person’s body language follows yours. When done correctly, this is one of the strongest techniques you can use to build trust.
Take their Reaction as Feedback
You may be doing all the “right” things but for some reason, you just can’t seem to connect with the other person. Take this as feedback and not failure which will shift your focus from “why did I fail” to “what should I do now knowing this new piece of information”. Usually you will need to think about what else you can do to show that you are similar to them, care about them and think they are important. On the flip side, when you are successful at building trust, in addition to feeling proud, you should take it as feedback that you are doing something right. Just make sure you are clear what it specifically was that led to your success.
Giving someone a genuine smile is a great way to put them at ease and to appear approachable and trustworthy. Practice smiling in front of a mirror to see if you are giving the best smile you can give (if you have never done this, go to a mirror or reflective surface and practice). In most situation where you are trying to build rapport, smile and do it often.
No matter what you are trying to achieve in life, gaining trust from other people will be an integral part of your success. I promise if you practice the techniques listed above, you will be able to build rapport with anyone.
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.
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