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Build Rapport in 30 seconds or less

Motivation, Persuasion, Rapport, salesEdward KiledjianComment

In my previous entry (What I Learned Selling Encyclopedias), I talked about overcoming objection. Quite a few of the readers of this blog wrote to me asking what techniques I use. The techniques of persuasion and overcoming objection cannot be explained in one entry and takes years to master. I have spent a lot of time and money learning various techniques and practicing them over and over to get them just right.

I will share with you some of those techniques in upcoming entries. This particular one will discuss how to create a rapport with anybody.

Rapport is actually the key building block of persuasion. You cannot persuade or convince anybody if you do not first establish rapport with that person.

Have you ever met somebody that you liked immediately? Someone that you immediately got along with? Truth be told, you can establish rapport with anybody, even people you don't get along with immediately.

"People like People Who Are like Themselves." Please reread that sentence a couple times. Let it sink in! That my friends, is the secret of rapport.

Let's say you're a big fan of a particular hockey team, and you meet somebody who is also a huge fan of the same team. Chances are you'll quickly get along and start talking about the thing you love, hockey. The same thing can be said for culture, education, political or religious persuasion, etc.

So let's start talking about techniques.

You've probably heard that the majority of communication is done non-verbally. Each of us have non-verbal cues, mannerisms and we are drawn to people who have similar body language. Similarly, we are repulsed by people who exhibit polar opposite non-verbal cues.

Knowing the above, you need to carefully mirror the other person. Mirroring is self-explanatory. If you're sitting across from somebody and they crossed her left leg then you cross your right leg. If the person is leaning forward in their chair, then you lean forward slightly.

When you meet somebody for the first time, wait 15 to 30 seconds before you start mirroring them. Start the process of mirroring gradually so that the other person doesn't consciously realize it.

When mirroring somebody, don't copy them exactly. This may give them the creeps. As an example, if somebody crosses their arms at chest level, you may want to cross your arms laying on your lap.

Now you don't have to keep mirroring the person during your entire conversation. Generally, you only need to mirror for a very short window until the other person starts to feel comfortable. At that point you can then start leading.

There are three major categories of communication style: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Although people are usually a combination of the three, one is more dominant.

Effective negotiators always take the time to study their opponents beforehand. One of the things that they're trying to determine is the opponent's communication style.

As the word implies, auditory people tend to think in sounds. This type of person prefers verbal instructions to written ones. Generally, auditory people speak and even form with a rhythmic tempo and a little bit of a melody.

These are people who prefer seeing things. These people like diagrams, charts, pictures, written instructions, etc. Sometimes you can identify a visual person by their selection of words. It is not uncommon for visual people to use sentences like "let me explain it to you and I'm sure you'll see it my way", "I see what you mean", "I can see that", "It looks good", etc.

kinesthetic individuals are usually defined as touchy-feely. Most children are born kinesthetic and learn a great deal about the world around them by touching and moving things around. Kinesthetic people are usually in touch with their emotions so be on the lookout for emotional words such as "I feel like", "I feel where you're coming from", etc.

Generally, it is believed that by second or third grade, some students migrate from kinesthetic to visual. During late elementary, another group will migrate from visual to auditory. Statistically speaking, females are more likely to become auditory than males.

Matching the other person's communication style is also an extremely powerful tool. If the other person is auditory and you start communicating visually, you will break rapport and lose the other person's interest. This is a mistake I see people make very often. Adapt your presentation or communication style to the other person.

Let's put some of things we learned together and see how they could be used. The first step in the process would be matching.

It's important to try and find something in common with the other person. As we mentioned above, this can be cultural, ethnic, sports related, etc. know the other person and find something in common.

Pacing encompasses what we spoke about above: mirroring and communication style. Listen for the words the other person is using, the tone of their voice, their body language, their speech mannerisms, etc.

Without looking like a psycho stalker, use the above techniques to build trust and rapport.

if you have successfully completed the above two steps, then you can now take the role of leader. When you are leading, after being in good rapport with the other person, you can actually change the pace of the interaction and the other person will follow your lead.

Generally, during a persuasion match, you will fluctuate between pacing and leading until you achieve your goal.

This is of course only a partial discussion of persuasion. There are many other skills that you must learn to achieve maximum efficiency.

People absolutely love themselves. This is why the above techniques work. Another tool in your arsenal is to get the person to talk about themselves. No subject is more important to them than themselves. Ask them questions that encourage them to talk about themselves. Try to use open-ended questions when possible (questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no). As you start learning about the person, their style and preferences, you can start narrowing down your questions.

Remember that you must be honest and lead with integrity. Honesty and integrity cannot be faked and if you try, the other person will know and you will immediately break rapport.


I would love to give more concrete examples but it is not practical to write a rapport building scenario since most of the work is non verbal.