The Secrets to Creating Rapport
What is Rapport and why do I want it?
Rapport is the connection you have with someone which allows communication to run freely, ideas to be exchanged and, short of outright just liking the other person, the feeling that you have been heard and understood.
Why you want it is simple. People do business with people whom they like, trust and feel they have a connection. Indeed, in your journey to becoming that trusted business partner or adviser, establishing rapport is the single most effective thing you can do.
If you think you’re just not very good with new people, take heart, all is not lost! Building rapport is something you can learn to do. There are some fairly mechanical ways to do so, but I am here to tell you that ultimately, there is one fool-proof way to ensure you can connect with anyone!
In our Daily Lives
Have you ever noticed two long term friends together? As you bring them to mind, notice how they move in similar ways, and seem to synchronise without conscious thought. Often, there is no need for complete sentences as they communicate with a shorthand that is based on shared experiences and in some case, created language. Some people will be easily able to bring this picture to mind, recalling maybe their partner with a best friend or siblings. What would you notice?
As you approach this picture in your mind, have you noticed how they seem to mirror each other? If you need a bit of prompting, do an image search of “Friends Talking” and look at the images. They will both lean in or lean out, arms will be roughly the same and heads will be oriented similarly. This is what friends do.
If you could hear them, you might hear the same words being used. Friends will use the same type of words and even the same words as a way to let the other person know they have heard them. Friends will also match in language style, matching intonation and rhythm and yet it all seems so natural. Have you noticed a really odd feature in that you will also see friends sigh at the same time. Yet none of this is conscious.
So, what now? We now know friends match the way they hold themselves, the way they speak, and at times, even they way they breathe and the language they use. Try noticing this next time you catch up with family or friends. But a word of warning. Purposely and consciously doing this might result in you getting some strange looks and people asking if you are okay. Subtlety is the key here, and a little goes a long way.
Given all this, method number one, that is taught to sales people and consultants is to “mirror” what the other person is doing. To consciously and subtly reflect the person’s body language, verbal language and even breathing to create an “instant rapport”.
However, there is a much better way…
This way is the one that provides long lasting benefits as well. When friends start off, the one thing they have is a genuine interest in actually discovering all they can about the other person. It is a genuine interest. Consider your initial dates with a special friend. I imagine you were very interested in what they had to say! Even more so, think of it in one of its purest forms, like when a parent kneels down to the level of a child, alters their speaking and listens intently to a child in order to really connect.
Frankly it is no different with clients / customers. Taking a real genuine interest in what they are saying provides some major benefits. Firstly, your body language, your verbal language and yes, even your breathing reflect the truly interested attitude that you have in them. Don’t bother pretending to be interested as it always looks a bit odd / fake no matter how hard you practice. There is nothing more effective than the real thing.
So… how do you generate interest? Especially in someone whose voice could put their own face to sleep. The trick is to find a place of empathy and then hear the story unfold. Take an active interest in what they have to say and make sure you understand it by asking genuine questions to really know where they are coming from and to understand the purpose of their communication. Look for things to build your knowledge of the person – just as you would a close friend. Try putting yourself in their shoes and suspending your own judgement whilst listening. You will be surprised how quickly this can be the foundation of a truly remarkable relationship.
In my experience, all our clients have interesting stories to share. I am constantly fascinated by their view the world and how they experience the world. By developing rapport and solid relationships based on trust and a true interest in the other person, we are then able to tackle problems together.