Use This Easy Visual to Help Build Rapport

Here’s a shocker that you may have heard from me beforePeople want to help other people that they like!

"Friends :-)" by @BK, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Do your friends make you feel good? “Friends :-)” by @BK, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

When people like you, they want to help you. They want to spend time with you. They want to do business with you.

So how do you get people to like you? How do you build that rapport?

We covered a number of strategies in Building Rapport for Fun and Profit. Ideas such as smiling, eye contact, and using people’s names are hugely important to connect with people.

And of course, you have to hold a conversation for any of that to be effective!

How do you hold a conversation that people want to be a part of, so they associate you with feeling good?

You must trigger the release of dopamine in their brain!

To get people to like you, you must talk about things that interest them.

What is everyone’s favorite subject? The one thing they know the most about in the entire world?


To get people to like you, release dopamine by giving people a great gift — the opportunity to talk about themselves.

Here’s how you can do exactly that, using this visual I learned in my Dale Carnegie course during the summer of 2017.

Imagine a large house on a warm sunny day. Feel the warmth. The house has a porch with kids running around and a grandma sitting in a rocking chair, knitting a scarf. Out of house chimney is giant a work glove. That giant glove holds onto the tail of a passing airplane. The airplane’s wings are made of newspapers. Those newspapers are batting, back and forth, a tennis ball.

Close your eyes and imagine that scene. It’s a bit unusual, wouldn’t you say? That unusualness is what will make it stand out in your mind. Do your best to picture this visual in the best detail you can. You want this to stick in your memory for future recall.

This visual provides clues to the questions you can ask people. By giving them the chance to talk about themselves, you’re building rapport. People are associating the release of dopamine with you, and then they like you.

Here are some questions you can pull from this visual:

  1. House: Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? With anyone? Do you own or rent? Been there long? How’s that working out?
  2. Kids and Grandma on the Porch: Do you have family in the area? Do you have siblings? Are you married? Any children? (Careful, you want to talk about positive things — children can be a sore spot for some people!)
  3. Grandma Knitting: What are your hobbies? How do you fill your free time? What’s a new hobby that you’d like to learn? (This is an opportunity to talk about books, television, or movies, though these topics aren’t always relatable.)
  4. Work Glove out of the Chimney: What do you do for work? Everyone knows this question, of course. It’s the least interesting to discuss for most people, but it’s easy to answer. Avoid it if you can. You have plenty of other topics available.
  5. Airplane: Where was your last vacation? Your favorite vacation? Your next vacation? What did you like about those places? Any suggestions for a great hotel?
  6. Newspapers: What are your opinions about today’s news? This is a minefield that you can enter, but beware — people aren’t into civil discourse much these days. They’d rather tell you why you’re wrong than possibly consider a different point of view. If you’re on the same side of an issue, however, this can help connect with people’s identity.
  7. Tennis ball: What sports are you into? Do you play these sports? When do you make the time? Or do you watch these sports? Which are you favorite teams and why?

Each of these questions can open a wide-ranging conversation. Make sure you’re offering information as well, as a conversation should be a back-and-forth exchange of ideas. When the conversation seems to stall, you have more topics to return to.

Remember, you want to release dopamine, their brain’s natural feel-good chemical. Read their body language to get a sense of how your conversation is flowing. You can jump around on these questions if they flow, or stick with the sequence as we described the image.

Make sure people feel good talking with you! "Cliff Andersen" by Joel Dinda, Flicker, CC-By-2.0
Look at that dropped head and downward posture. This man isn’t happy. Make sure people feel good talking with you! “Cliff Andersen” by Joel Dinda, Flicker, CC-By-2.0

The opposite side of that Dopamine coin is worth mentioning. If a topic or question is going to cause a bad or negative feeling, avoid it! Even asking how someone is doing today, while they sit alone at a bar or after a long work day, is not going to help your cause. Instead, ask (or comment) about your common surroundings and then move into the questions we outlined earlier.

There are additional, non-conversational strategies in Building Rapport for Fun and Profit.

Before we go, close your eyes and again visualize that house, the kids, the knitting grandma, the work glove, the airplane, the newspapers, the tennis ball. Internalize this visual. Reference it in your future.

Make it your goal this week to start a conversation with two new people.

Then, return to and post a story sharing how things went!

3 thoughts on “Use This Easy Visual to Help Build Rapport”

    1. Hi Martin thanks for the response!

      Have you had an opportunity to use this visual to meet someone new or to improve a conversation?

Comments are closed.