Building Rapport for Fun and Profit

Mirroring behaviour helps build rapport. Image "our bench days" by phlubdr, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Mirroring behavior helps build rapport. Image “our bench days” by phlubdr, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

We choose help people that we like, people that make us happy.

We like people that are similar to ourselves. People that remind us of our best attributes.

Therefor, if we want to be persuasive, we must be likable.

As humans, we mirror one another’s behavior. We reciprocate emotions and we reciprocate favors.

To be persuasive, you

want others to mirror you, to see the best of themselves in you. You want others to reciprocate your generosity.

You might have to take the lead in this. By mirroring others posture and behavior first, you can influence them to like you more. They’ll subconsciously include you in their tribe, their identity group.

Of course, not everyone is going to like you. Or me. I have to remind myself, that’s ok. It’s just a bit of cognitive dissonance.

Our job, as a friend or a leader, is to make people feel important when we’re talking together.

Remember names, and use them. Smile. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Ask follow-up questions about those answers. Dig deep. Empathize with their struggles. Take an honest interest in others.

Manage your body language so you appear open and engaged. Sustain eye contact! Uncross your arms and lean in to the conversation. (Remember the two way street: how your body acts, your brain will follow!)

Take the time to have good hygiene. Dress well. Your appearance isn’t for your benefit (although it’s a good anchor to alter your frame of mind). Your appearance influences perception. Utilize it to your benefit.

All of this for a simple conversation. Of course, conversation is about more than exchanging information. It’s about building rapport so others feel they can trust you. Your payoff is in the future.

But what if I’m faking it?

Goodness, I hope so! It’s impossible to be naturally interested in others all the time. I understand — I have my own problems to deal with!

It’s not easy to take an interest in a boring story… and then ask for more details.

It’s not easy to iron a shirt every day. (That’s why we have sweaters.)

It’s not easy to remember everyone’s name.

It’s not easy to reframe tense situations to see them in a positive light.

Building rapport isn’t meant to be easy. We’re building it, over time.

Make it your new habit.

I’ve been trying to increase my own rapport building skills. Starting small, with clerks at the store and co-workers in the hall. Smiles are low-risk in these situations.

I’m also increasing my eye contact. One method is to notice the eye color of the person I’m talking with. The extra moments it takes to notice this can make quite an impact.

I have to remind myself, don’t drop the ball in the middle of the conversation! I continue making eye contact, on and off, throughout. It’s amazing how few people do this. Sometimes, it feels like a superpower.

Names, I’m horrible with names.

But no! not anymore! On the advice of a friend, I’ve rewritten that script. I no longer tell myself I’m horrible with names. Now I tell myself, yeah I’m pretty good with names. And when I forget, I remind myself it’s ok to ask (again). And then I use them.

Rewrite your script. Create a new habit of building rapport.

Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going!


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