Tag Archives: Rapport

Why Deep Rapport is Much Easier Than You Think

Couple of weeks ago, I went to an aquarium. It wasn’t a very large aquarium, it was a “traveling aquarium” if you can believe that. It wasn’t really anything more than an oversized tropical fish store, and it seemed to be set up mostly for kids. I’m not sure if it was something that travels around the country, or if it just a local thing that might have been on loan from the local zoo.

One thing they did have that was surprising was four penguins. On the advertisement it had pictures of all kinds of exotic sea creatures, and it had a picture of a penguin in the middle. I was certain that the penguin was only for advertising, so I was surprised to see actual penguins at the exhibit.

The were in a relatively small room, maybe twenty or thirty square meters at most. In the center was a make shift pool, the surface was maybe four or five square meters. It was only half a meter deep or so. When I arrived, there were many people pushing up against the Plexiglas with their cell phone snapping away. When I got there the penguins were swimming around in a circle in their small pool.

Shortly after I made my way to the Plexiglas, they had climbed out of the pool and were walking around it. They were incredibly cute, I have to admit. Following each other, as if they were afraid to make a decision on their own. Every time one would pause and look at the water, the rest would copy him. When one started walking, they others started as well. When one veered off form their path from around the pool, the rest followed.

Pretty soon you could tell the crowd was hoping for them to dive back into the water, as watching them walking around in circles was getting a little bit boring. Every time they would pause, an almost jump in, but hold back, you feel the small crowd express its disappointment.

Finally, one of them slipped, and fell into the pool. Before he even had broken the surface of the water, his three friends immediatley followed suit, to the immediate pleasure of the crowd.

It reminded me of a sales seminar I went to a few years ago. The speaker was talking about how important it was to develop rapport before trying to persuade anybody of anything. Rapport is that unconscious feeling you get when you feel comfortable with somebody.

For example, if you were in a strange city, and you saw somebody in shopping mall wearing a t-shirt the bore symbol identifying them as part of a small group that you belonged to, like a high school, or a hometown charity group, you would immediately feel a connection to this person. If you went up and introduced yourself, and identified yourself a as member of the same group of them, you would immediately feel a connection.

Another example. Imagine you are taking a long flight home from somewhere. You finally get to your airport; get off the go down to the baggage claim. As you are waiting, you notice somebody the same gender and age as you. And pretty soon you realize that both of your bags have not come out of the shoot yet. You both finally go to the service desk, only to find that both of your bags have been accidentally transferred to Miami. They are safe, and they will be returned within one week. You share a unique experience with this person, and you suddenly feel a certain connection. You have developed rapport.

There are many ways to develop rapport. The easiest is to match body langue, match the rate of speech, the words that they use. Another way that people try is to find as many shared past experiences, or shared likes and dislikes. Like you both played baseball as a kid, or you both hate the Bee Gees, or anything else you can find.

What the guy at this seminar said, was interesting. He said it’s much easier to develop rapport than most people think. The reason behind this is that people, from a biological perspective, are pack animals. We move in herds, or large groups. It’s almost automatic for us to get into rapport with people. It’s as if we are always subconsciously on the lookout for people that are similar to us, to get clues on how to behave.

This guys said that the easiest way to get rapport with anybody, be it a potential boss during a job interview, a client or a potential lover, is to simply relax, and allow the inevitable similarities to come to the surface. We have in us wonderful mechanism given to us by God or Evolution (whichever you believe) which makes this natural if you just relax and allow it to happen. Of course, if you look for differences, you will find them. But when you relax and allow the similarities to surface naturally, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to develop bonds with people that you don’t even know.

How to maintain those bonds is a subject of another article.

How to be a Powerful Communicator

I remember I used to have this sales job. It was based on multi level marketing kind of structure. I don’t remember exactly what it was that they sold, some kind of paper products. It was a pure commissioned sales job, meaning that you only made money if you sold something. And if you recruited one of your friends, and they sold something, you got a piece of the profit. The job entailed going out and “cold calling” small business owners. If you have never experienced cold calling, I recommend you try it at least once. Basically it entails waking up to strangers and trying to sell them something. It’s a great way to force yourself out of shyness, and increase your self confidence. I’ll be honest, though, it’s incredibly difficult and can cause a lot of stress, if you are totally focussed on a need to make a lot of money. If you do it just for the experience, it can be a positive eye opener. You can learn a lot about yourself.

Because it was so high stress, at this company we would meet in the morning, have a kind of cheer leading type meeting, where we’d get all pumped up. Then we’d go out in pairs and cold call all day. We’d hit up about 60 businesses, and if we were lucky we’d get about three or four sales. That mean about fifty five rejections a day, ranging from polite to “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SHOP! CAN’T YOU READ THE SIGN THAT SAYS NO SOLICITORS!” It really can be a way to develop thick skin, which can be useful in today’s climate.

After we’d head back to the office, we would have a breakdown meeting. I guess we would try and cheer each other up after getting rejected all day long. I discovered one very interesting thing during one of these meetings. One senior sales person asked how my day went. I said it was difficult, but it helped to be persistent. I remember that I used the word ‘persistent.’ And he responded with “Oh, so it helps to be diligent?” I kind of nodded, because it was late and I wanted to go home. Now it seems like a trivial difference “persistent” versus “diligent.” After all, if you look the two words up in the thesaurus, you’ll find the two listed as synonyms. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. When I used the word “persistent,” I specifically chose that word, because based on my own experience, that was the best word to describe my own personal experience for that particular day. When he reflected back my description of the experience back to me, he chose a different word. In my mind, that word didn’t describe at all the day I had. So the end result of his “coaching,” was that he didn’t appear to understand AT ALL what I experienced that day.

It reminded me of a seminar I went to once on communication. We were all asked to think of a duck. When we shared our ducks, they were all different. Small ducks, rubber ducks, even the AFLAC duck. A simple four letter noun yielded many different ideas of a duck. Is it any wonder that a abstract word like “persistent” can have such different meanings from person to person?

In some communication models, people are taught to paraphrase what people say back to them. I disagree with this. In the above example, the salesperson tried to paraphrase my words, which were a description of my own personal subjective experience, and failed miserably. In a split second, he became somebody that didn’t understand what I had gone through that day, simply by choosing one single word incorrectly.

How to get around this? How do you communicate to somebody that is telling you about an emotionally charged experience? Simple. Repeat back their exact words to them. I’ve heard this technique referred in some places as “parrot-phrasing” rather than paraphrasing, and I think the term is accurate. If the person in the example above had reflected back to me the same word, I would have felt respected and understood, rather than otherwise. It’s simple, and all that it requires is for you to pay attention to the person talking to you, and pay attention to the words they seem to put emphasis on. They might pause a litter bit before these words, they might say them with a different tonality. Be aware that these particular words have special significance to the person using them. When you treat the other persons word with respect, you will be treating them with respect. And it not only make you appear to be really a sincere, intuitive communicator, but it will make them feel safe in talking with you and sharing their experience.

How many situations can you imagine where this would be useful?


The Magical Power of Rapport

Try a little mind experiment with me. Imagine a friend of yours, one that you’ve known for a long time. You trust that person, right? If they suggested that you do something,and it didn’t sound too crazy, you’d probably do it, right? Me too. Now imagine if somebody that you didn’t know came up to you, and asked you out of the blue to do the exact same thing. How would you react? Probably the same way I would . Tell the person no thanks. If they persisted, then tell them to get lost.

What’s missing from this is a feeling of connection. A deep feeling of similarity with this person. Similar beliefs, ideas, experiences. It’s very hard for somebody that hasn’t known you for a long time to create this feeling. But what if there was? What if there were a secret method, known only to a few of how to create this feeling?

This technique is called rapport. The word rapport is probably familiar to you, but unfortunately it gets thrown around so much, not too many people really understand the power behind it. Rapport is that deep feeling that you experience when you are really connecting with somebody on an unconscious level. And the best part about it, is it’s really easy to do.

Here’s how.

The first step in rapport is to match body language of the person that you want to persuade. Mirror them as much as you can without getting caught. When they shift, you shift. This is so simple, yet so mindbogglingly powerful its amazing so many people don’t use this on a daily basis. If they are slouched a little bit, you slouch a little bit. If they are resting their elbow on the table, you rest your elbow on the table. I’m not going to even begin to describe how powerful this is on a first date, because I’m sure you can think of many ways you can use this.

The next step is to match their speech, as closely as possible. This one is a lot more complicated, because most people feel weird when speaking in a voice that is not ‘normal’ for them. It gets easier the more you do it, though. It’s important to match their tone and speed. If they speak really fast, you speak really fast. If they speak slow, and pause a lot, you speak slow and pause a lot.

The next step is to see their point of view. This doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they say. This means listening, not interrupting, and really making an effort to see things from their point of view. Even if they have a belief which is diametrically opposed to yours, one such controversial topics such as abortion and gun control, hold your tongue. Listen patiently, and at least let them know that you respect their opinion, and you can see how they would have such an opinion. This is a major stumbling block for people. So much so that some people refuse to date or even be friends with people that have opposite opinions than theirs. This can be very limiting, as being able to see opinions from viewpoints than your own can be very rewarding.

These are just the beginning steps of developing deep rapport with somebody that you want persuade. But because they are so powerful, once you master these, you will have an edge over almost anyone you meet.