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When you first meet someone, the decision to like someone is usually made pretty quickly. This is based on common interests, beliefs, or because you admire their character and aspire to be like them. But, being faced with building rapport in a situation with someone you don’t have much in common with can be a bit challenging.
The “bedrock”, to quote Mike Bundrant, of building rapport is commonality. We tend to enjoy being around people who are similar to ourselves, or are like-minded. If you are having a conversation with someone new, and are not sure what to talk about, grasping on to a common interest will aid in building a strong relationship. This can be especially helpful if this “new” person is of importance (i.e. your father-in-law, or a potential business partner). Not only will finding a common interest ignite a friendship, but it can be used as a building block towards a happy, healthy relationship with this person.
Another reason we might be drawn to someone, would be if we were able to see qualities in them that we aspire to within ourselves. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and this certainly proves to be true when it comes to building rapport. If you see that someone is mirroring your physical posture, hand gestures, or tone of voice, this is a clear indicator of rapport being built. This is a great way to check to see if you’re connecting with the person you are talking to, and is frequently referred to as “pacing”. You can also help to build a relationship with this person by matching or mirroring them within the conversation, either physically, or intellectually. This will tell them that you are engaged, and active in the relationship, encouraging them to dive deeper into the conversation.
If you’re having a conversation with someone and you feel that it is going well, but aren’t sure that they feel the same, try to pace the conversation. Set the calibration of the conversation, and if they follow suit, that’s a good sign. Then, change it up. Speed up your words, or change the modality in which you are residing, and use predicates that indicate a switch in modality. Again, if they follow suit, a good rapport is being built.
In my own life, throughout the week I don’t have a whole lot of adult interaction, other than my fiancé. But just like in any conversation (no matter who it’s with), you can tell how much the person is paying attention or invested in it by using this “pacing” method. There are often times that I implement this method by speeding up or slowing down the tempo of my end of the conversation, and if he catches on then I know he is active in the conversation and not just “nodding along”. To further answer my question, there are times that I will change sitting positions, and if he pays notice and also adjusts his position, then I know that he cares to continue.
I find this information extremely valuable, as building rapport is important in any line of work that you may find yourself in. It can be applied to almost any relationship that you may have. Whether you find yourself speaking with customers most of the day, or answering to someone who is on a higher pay-scale than you are, establishing a strong and secure relationship with them will ensure a smooth ride throughout your business day.
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