Building rapport is an art form.
It's not easy. It's a true skill. And like any other skill it's something that can be mastered through dedication and practice.
If you can master the art of communication you will be able to close major deals, hire the best and navigate your way up both the social and career ladder.
It's not a mistake that all great leaders are great communicators. If you want to be like them, you need to master this art!
Experts say that there are ten techniques for building quick rapport with anyone (handy for clients, suppliers and new bosses!).
In today's blog, I'm going to quickly go over all ten techniques and some tips to help you practice (these would also come in handy for training sales teams)
1. Establishing time constraints
Avoid creating an awkward presence by telling the person you are communicating with that this conversation will not take up a lot of their time.
For example there may be someone you'd like to build rapport with in your building (this could be a potential client, supplier or even hire!), you often bump into them in the cafeteria but the person always seems to be on their phone when eating their lunch. How can you make that initial contact?
Use a time constraint - "I was just leaving to go back to the office, (then ask a simple question, perhaps ask if they'd recommend what they're eating)"
2. Friendly non-verbals
Make sure that both your body language and voice is non threatening and comes across as friendly.
Have you noticed at networking events people will normally flock to certain individuals. The next time you are attending an event look out for what these popular individuals have in common (besides from standing next to the food and drink, that's another story!) - I am confident to say that they are probably smiling, have a tilted body and have their chin lowered.
How do I know this? These are key traits in projecting positive body language and encouraging people in having conversations with you.
If you do not naturally have accommodating non-verbals then it is now time you start practising! When practising, work from the top down as individuals generally tend to focus on the head and face.
3. Slower rate of speech
This one is easier said than done and does take a lot of practice!
Don't talk too fast, you'll lose credibility very quickly and may come across as nervous or threatening.
Listeners are naturally lazy. If you don't make it easy for them, they won't push themselves to listen to you. By speaking slowing, you are making it easier for your audience and this will increase your engagement rate.
Marian Rich, a voice and speech teacher for actors published this very useful exercise to help you practice and control your rate of speech:
Mark a paragraph / in this manner / into the shortest possible phrases. / First, / whisper it / with energetic lips, / breathing / at all the breath marks. / Then. / speak it / in the same way. / Do this / with a different paragraph / everyday. / Keep your hand / on your abdomen / to make sure / it moves out / when you breathe in / and moves in / when you speak.
4. Sympathy or assistance theme
It's in most people's nature to help others - we like to do it, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Appeal to this nature and ask the person you're trying to build rapport with for help or advice.
When using this technique it is important to keep the request easy, non time consuming and non threatening. If the individual thinks that helping you would have some sort of cost to them, they are less likely to accept and help you, especially if you are a stranger.
For the purpose of building rapport - keep it light and easy!
5. Ego suspension
This is very simple on paper but difficult in practice. Don't talk about yourself, don't highlight your strengths. Instead, focus on the other person, make them feel special and build them up.
Dropping our ego is one of the most difficult things to do because of our genetics. When our ancient ancestors were a hunter-gatherer society, if an individual did not look after their own needs,the chances of passing along their genes were very low.
Dropping your ego is nothing more than putting the individual first, this includes their wants, needs and perception.
Most conversations are of two people waiting for the other person to stop speaking so they can then talk about themselves or something related to themselves. Be different and encourage the other person to talk about their story.
6. Validate others
Just as we like to help others (when there is no cost), we also like to be connected to others and feel accepted.
Validation feeds this need but very few actually give it. Validate others and you will quickly build a great rapport!
Validation comes in three forms; listening (this action doesn't require a lot of effort but is extremely effective!), thoughtfulness (this is probably the most commonly used of the validation techniques - demonstrate thoughtfulness in your actions and your words to every individual in your life) and verifying thoughts & opinions (validating the thoughts and opinions of others can be difficult as you have to suppress your own).
7. Ask how, when and why?
To make a connection, you need to dig deep and there is no better way than asking these questions. These questions are great because the person you are speaking with will only tell you what their willing to talk about, this means there are no awkward moments in the conversation!
Open ended questions like how, when and why requires thought and longer answers from the individual being spoken to.
There are a few more techniques associated with asking how, when and why that you should attempt to incorporate:
8. Connect with quid pro quo
Have you ever heard the phrase, "you have to give some to get some"? Well it's true!
Quid pro quo refers to the art of giving s little information about yourself to get a little from others. Some people are naturally more guarded than others. Make them feel comfortable by giving a little about you.
You must remember to use this technique sparingly. After all, to make great rapport, you need to make the conversation about the other person.
9. Gift Giving
This is one of my favourite ones because it's easy to utilise and very effective.
Human's are genetically coded to reciprocate gifts given. Give a gift (this can be intangible or material!) and seek a conversation and rapport in return.
Remember gifts can come in many forms; a lunch, free e-book even just a quick coffee!
The key to the success in gift giving is to do so without any expectation of reciprocity. When individuals give gifts with an agenda at the forefront of their mind, it demeans the value of the gift and come across as insincere.
When giving a gift, keep the focus on them. Not you or your agenda.
10. Managing expectations
When we are able to shift or manage people's expectations, we reduce the risk of potential disappointment.
When someone's expectations haven't been met, the individual can be led into anger or disappointment and with these feelings, it's very difficult to build rapport and a healthy relationship.
The best way to avoid disappointment is to make sure that you are focussed on benefiting them and not you. Also, be honest with them at every stage of your conversation. Ultimately, you will benefit but your mindset needs to focus on them.
You have probably read this blog and thought that some of the techniques are obvious. And well to be truthful, they are obvious and you've probably used some of these already.
However, now you can consciously use these techniques in your future conversations and you will see how much more effective your communication skills are.
If you've enjoyed reading this piece and would like to read each technique in more detail, I would recommend you read the book "It's not all about me" by Robin Dreeke. Robin Dreeke is a lead trainer for social engineering interpersonal skills in the FBI as well as the head of the behavioural analysis programme.
Hi, I'm Chantelle Jones