If you have rapport with someone, this means that you feel a connection that goes beyond necessarily what you’re each saying. You will find that you feel ‘at ease’ in their company (and vice versa), that you feel an innate liking for them and that you are more inclined to agree with them regardless of content. We naturally develop rapport with people who we feel are similar to us and this immediate synchronicity is often what will lead to a genuine friendship.
But while rapport will often occur naturally, it can also be manipulated – and this is a topic that is of great interest to salesmen trying to influence our behavior, as well as pick-up artists. But while it might sound manipulative to try and get someone to ‘like us’ in this way, it can also be a useful skill for the rest of us. This doesn’t have to be immoral either; it’s simply a way to leverage and improve your natural charm and thereby to help make your interactions easier and outcomes more favorable.
How to Develop Rapport
Effective rapport is largely achieved through the use of body language. When we observe two people who are in-sync, it should be apparent that their body language is also mirroring that of each other. Thus if you are talking to someone who you like and respect and they then shift their position to lean their head on their hand, you are likely to find yourself doing the same thing unconsciously. Likewise, if you move, you will likely find that they move to do the same.
In order to try and encourage a sense of rapport with another person then, the objective is to subtly mimic their body language without making it obvious so that it stands out. This is called ‘mirroring’ and is a popular technique in neuro-linguistic programming.
Likewise, you should also subtly try to echo the vocabulary and the pitch of the person you’re speaking to. Using that person’s name can also help to encourage rapport, as we naturally enjoy hearing the sound of our own name and so will create positive associations for those who use ours regularly.
These are the basics of using rapport, but really it’s more about how you do it, rather than what you do. Using mirroring effectively takes a lot of practice if you are to do it subtly and so it can help to get some practice if possible. Try using these techniques in situations where there are no stakes and see if you can notice a difference. Once you are confident enough, you can start using them on dates, in interviews or in sales situations.
Once you manage to successfully build rapport and mirror a person’s body language, the next step you can attempt is to try and start leading the conversation. You do this by first mirroring to the point where body language is established, and then starting to change your posture in order to try and lead the posture of the person you’re talking to. If you manage this successfully, you will establish yourself as leading the conversation and they should start to find what you say more persuasive.
Again, this takes a lot of practice and works best when used subtly. Try to hone your skills again in low-stakes scenario and once you do have it down, make sure that your use your new Jedi powers for good and not evil…