The power of ‘rapport’ is something that is well understood in marketing and that is often considered useful in dating as well. When we have a rapport with someone, we connect on a ‘deeper’ level and find ourselves instantly warming to that person. If you manage to establish a rapport when you’re talking to people, then you’ll find they’re more likely to agree with you, more likely to buy from you or to hire you and even more likely to go out with you. So how do you artificially bring about this rapport if it doesn’t seem to come naturally? Here are some tips that should be able to help…
Whether you’re on a sales course or an NLP seminar, mirroring is one of the most commonly promoted techniques for developing rapport. The idea is that you mimic the other person’s body language in order to unconsciously suggest to them that you are similar, that you are fully listening and that you are of the same opinion. Mimic the other person for a while and eventually you’ll find that you fall into a ‘rhythm’ and that you can eventually start to take the ‘lead’.
It’s important to use this mirroring subtly and not to draw attention to it in an unnatural way. Don’t completely copy their posture and gestures, but rather try to sit or stand in the same way (shift position ten seconds after they do) and try to use a similar tonality. Show that you empathise with their mood by using similar facial expressions and by nodding your head quickly in response to show agreement. After a while you can try changing your position and if it has worked, you’ll find that they automatically follow suit.
Mirroring tonality and mood is not the only way to create a rapport with your speech. Likewise you can try to very subtly mimic their vocabulary and accent (though not to the point that you seem to be mocking them) and to talk with a similar pitch and speed.
The easiest way to mimic someone through the spoken word though is simply to repeat what they say. Don’t turn into a parrot, but do try to show that you’ve heard and that you agree with their statements by repeating them back. If someone says ‘Hi my name is John’, then you can try repeating ‘John’ back to them as you shake their hand before you introduce yourself. Likewise if they ‘My favourite film is Moulin Rouge’ (hey, I don’t know!), then you can show that you’ve heard and that you approve by just saying ‘Moulin Rouge’ back or even ‘ah, your favourite film is Moulin Rouge!’.
This might sound obvious and trite but studies have shown that waitresses can increase their tips by over 30% by simply repeating the orders back to their customers.
You can also try to match the other person’s breathing, which will help to put you in sync in a much more hypnotic and unconscious manner. This is comparatively difficult to do, so don’t try to force it to the point that you aren’t paying attention to what is being said. Note as well that walking in rhythm or doing other things in sync can have a similarly positive effect.
A Word of Warning
When attempting to do any of these things, it’s important to make sure that your focus is still mainly on the other person and that you don’t end up becoming awkward because you are trying too hard to put on their accent. Rapport is actually something that should come about naturally if you are fully engaged in a conversation, so perhaps the easiest way to develop that rapport is just to genuinely listen to the other person and to act as though they are a close friend. The more comfortable you are and the more engaged, the more naturally that rapport will develop – then you can just help things along the way with a particular posture or mannerism.