In all positive human interactions and relationships, the element of rapport is a necessary prerequisite. Abraham Lincoln summed it up perfectly when he said “if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
This ability to effectively influence others is for some the ends, while for others it is only the means to the ends. As such no matter what your success goals the ability to effectively build rapport, the foundation upon which all influence is built, is a fundamental skill you must possess if you are to persist in your journey to success.
Webster’s dictionary defines rapport as a state of harmony between two people. People in this state think and feel the same way, and have often described the state as a feeling of being completely in sync with one another. Essentially, creating a state of rapport with someone means making him, or her, feel that they are understood and that you share a strong common bond.
So how do you build rapport? Building rapport can be done either verbally or non-verbally, with the later being the more powerful. Premised upon the belief that people like people who are similar to them, the key objective in building rapport is to make the other person like you. To do this, you simply have to make yourself as “similar” to the other person as possible.
The following three techniques of mirroring, physical touch and ‘speaking the other person’s language’ are effective basic tools in building rapport.
The first technique is mirroring. In mirroring, the idea is to match the other person’s posture and body language. To do this, you simply mimic the person’s behavior much like a mirror. The trick to doing this effectively is to subtly follow the other person’s lead. Whenever he changes posture, pause for 3 to 4 seconds before following him. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable doing this, however rest assured that the other person will not be aware of your actions. They will not know why, but on the sub-conscious level, they will feel a strong bond with you.
The second technique is physical touch. It is important in the process of building rapport that you initiate physical contact with the other person in the early stages of your encounter. Studies have revealed that physical contact with a person, even as slight as a touch, makes you seem a warmer and nicer person. In fact, 90% of those touched do not even remember being touched.
To do this well and, more importantly, not to offend the other person, the touch must be as natural as a pat on the back. Ideally, the touch should be made to a neutral part of the body i.e. the area between the shoulder blades, or the part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow.
Speaking his Language
The third technique to building rapport is to ‘speak the other person’s language.’ Once again, psychological studies have shown that different people process information differently i.e. visually, auditory and kinesthetically. This is known as their preferred representational system. By paying careful attention to the type of words the other person uses, you will gain a fairly accurate assessment of the way they process information. Once you have identified their preferred system, you simply choose to use similar words in your conversation with them.
The use of the above three techniques will enable you to build almost instant rapport with anyone. Initially you may feel overwhelmed by having to think about building rapport in your daily encounters with people. However, like any skill, with constant practice it will only be a matter of time before you start doing it unconsciously.
No matter what your success goals, the ability to influence people is a fundamental skill you will need to possess. Use these three simple, but highly effective, techniques to “Rap your way to Success!”