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Steps to Building Instant Rapport
Ten Steps to Building Instant RapportAuthor: Kim Olver
Whether you are a teacher, counselor, therapist, doctor, receptionist, sales person or friend, you know the power of instant rapport. I was recently asked to give a talk about it and it challenged my thinking. I thought to myself, "I know how to build rapport. I do it quite naturally, but I'm not sure I can break it down to teach others how to do it."
What I realized is that building rapport comes natural to some and others need to work at it more. It is a skill like anything else. Some of us are born with certain skills that are more effortless than others. I have no skill in the area of construction and spatial things but I know about connecting with people. But, like any skill, if you are someone who wants to get better at developing instant rapport, you can.
Here are ten steps to get you started:
1. Like People: This is a mindset. It is difficult to develop rapport with people when you don't like them. Rapport is not something you can fake. It must be genuine or the other person will likely see through your attempts. Do a mindset check and ask yourself, "Is liking other people high on my list of priorities and in line with my values"?
2. Attend to Your Appearance: Janet Elsea did some research to determine the factors people first notice when they meet someone. The first three factors are things about us that cannot easily be changed: skin color, gender and age. This is what you naturally bring to all your interactions with others.
The things people notice that you do have control over, in order are: appearance, facial expressions, eye contact, movement, personal space and touch. You want to be neat, well-groomed, and dressed as you would be expected to for the situation. Smile. Use direct, but not piercing eye contact. Move naturally. Be comfortable in your own skin. Allow a comfortable distance between you. In the US, this is approximately 18" for casual conversation. And give a firm but not crushing handshake, if appropriate.
3. Be Aware of Your Effect on People: All of what was mentioned in #2 are generalities. As guidelines, they are good to follow. However, in order to be good at developing rapport, you must be tuned in to the non-verbal cues of the person to whom you are relating. If you are allowing an 18" distance and the person keeps backing away from you, you may widen the distance or possible pop in a breathe mint!
Only 10% of our communication consists of the actual words we use. Forty percent is comprised of the tone of our voice and 50% is about our body language. Attune to the other person's body language and you will learn so much about the effect you are having on them.
When you aren't sure, state the observation you are making and ask the question, "I notice you keep looking at my mouth. Do I have something in my teeth"? Another possibility, "I notice you don't look at me when I talk, does my eye contact with you make you uncomfortable"? Check out your perceptions if you aren't sure of what's happening.
4. Listen: This means more than just hearing what another person is saying, while politely waiting to insert your two cents into the conversation. This means actually listening for understanding of what the person is actually saying.
5. Maintain an Other-Centered Conversation: This means keep the conversation focused on the other person. I know you may have a witty story to share but for the most part keep the conversation on the other person. People generally will feel good about a conversation in which they've had the opportunity to talk about themselves.
6. Become Empathic: This refers to the skill of listening to the words a person is saying and identifying the underlying emotion of what they are actually communicating and then being able to reflect that emotion back to the person.
7. Know a Little about a Lot of Things: The more knowledgeable you can be about a variety of subjects, the more opportunities you will have to connect with people. If you know a little something about current events, politics, sports, movies, music, celebrities, the economy, culture, people, etc. you will be able to interject small comments into many conversations and find a point of commonality with others.
8. Suspend Value Judgments/Develop Curiosity Instead: One of the things that gets us into so much trouble in our human relationships is what I call righteousness. It's the belief that our way is the "right" way and everyone else is "wrong." You may have an immediate defense to this statement and think, "I don't do that" but the reality is, we all do. In rapport building, what's best is to recognize righteousness when it rears its ugly head and switch it over to curiosity and become interested in understanding how the other person sees and does things differently than you instead of wrongly.
9. Learn about Multi-Cultural Issues: Given the vast array of different groups of people available to you on a daily basis, some degree of cultural sensitivity is necessary to navigate through the world if building rapport is your goal. You may want to know that in Asian culture direct eye contact is typically a sign of disrespect. You may want to know that telling a Black man you didn't even "notice" his skin color may be offensive. Develop a curiosity and you can learn these things as you go.
10. Create a Need-Satisfying Environment: In Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory, he speaks of five basic needs that all humans have. I believe you will increase your likelihood of building instant rapport if you attend to creating ways for people to get these needs meet within their conversation with you.
The needs are survival, love & belonging, power, freedom and fun. You want people to feel safe (survival) with you so make yourself as non-threatening as possible. You want them to feel connected (love & belonging) to you and that you care about their well-being. You want them to feel listened to, respected and important (power). You want them to have choices (freedom) and to have some fun and/or learning (fun ) going on with you.
When you are able to create this kind of environment, instant rapport is often the result.
Kim">http://www.Kimolver.com>Kim Olver is a life and relationship coach. She has consulted on training, leadership development, diversity, treatment programs and management styles. She is an internationally recognized speaker, having worked in Australia, Europe, Africa, Canada and the United States. She is the author of Leveraging Diversity at Work and the creator of the new, revolutionary process called, Inside Out Empowerment.
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