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  If other people feel rapport with you…in other words, like you, the world can be a much more pleasant place for you…
  • people who like you are usually more eager to help take care of your needs and desires
  • enjoying relationships with other people is a major factor contributing to longevity and happiness
Some people are naturally able to build rapport with others.  Those of us who aren’t born with this knack can develop it by applying a few, relatively simple principles.

Make a Good First Impression…

It takes very little time for people to form an impression of someone they’ve just met…and that impression tends to stick.  A study by Harvard University psychologists found that the attitude students formed toward new teachers in just two seconds was essentially the same as the one they held after sitting through the whole course. Of course, you can’t expect to become everyone’s best friend in two seconds…but if you make the right first impression, demonstrating that you are sincere, safe, and trustworthy, you can initiate the building of a lasting rapport within 90 seconds.

Project a “Really Useful” Attitude…

Your thoughts set the quality and mood of your attitudes, which in turn influence the way you feel, your voice tone, the words you use, your facial expressions, and your body language.  Your thoughts and attitudes then play a major role in determining the quality of your relationships. When you project a “really useful” attitude, one that is cheery, interested, and helpful, others will want to be around you. You choose your thoughts, and so your attitude.  When you project an opposite attitude, they’ll likely have an opposite reaction. Very important: Make sure your words, tone of voice, and gestures are consistent.  When faced with inconsistency among these three ways of delivering a message, people will pay the most attention to your body language, and next to tone of voice…and surprisingly little to the actual words.

Establish Rapport by Design…

We like people who are most like us…so the key to establishing rapport with others is to learn how to be more like them.  This requires you to deliberately control your behaviour so you can become sufficiently like the other person to form a connection…at least for a short time. Look around a restaurant, or any other public place where people meet and socialise.  Compare those couples who are in rapport with those who aren’t.  The ones who are in rapport lean toward one another…adopt similar arm and leg positions…talk in similar tones of voice.  In short, they seem to be synchronised. The quickest way to establish rapport with people you meet is to synchronise with them. Synchronising does not mean you’re being phony or insincere.  Its purpose is to help you put the other person at ease and speed up the rapport that would otherwise take longer to develop.  You’re not expected to make your movements, tone, and your voice mimic the other person’s, rather just to act with him/her the same way you would if you were already friends.

How to Synchronise…

Start synchronising within seconds of making a new acquaintance. The elemental stages of a successful first encounter…
  • use open body language.  Uncover your heart by leaving your jacket or coat unbuttoned and facing the other person.
  • be first with eye contact.  Look the other person straight in the eye.
  • always have a smile.
  • always be the first to identify yourself with a pleasant, “Hi! I’m Sarah.”
  • lean subtly toward the other person to show your interest and openness, and begin to synchronise.
  • pick-up on the other person’s feelings and identify with him by synchronising your movements, breathing patterns, and expressions.  Use your voice to reflect back the mood conveyed by his voice.  Don’t copy her clumsily, rather notice her posture, gestures, head, body movements, and facial expressions…and mirror them.
Particularly important: Mirror his/her voice tone, volume, speed, and pitch.

Secrets of Effective Communication

Cause the other person to begin talking openly so you can determine what matters to him/her and synchronise yourself accordingly. Begin by asking open questions…those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” but encourage the other person to open up and reveal herself. Key words: Who?  When?  What?  Why?  Where?  How? Keep the conversation going by answering questions with another question. Sensory preferences: If you really want to communicate with other people on their own wavelength, learn to quickly figure out their sensory preferences. People tend to view the world in one of three basic ways…
  • Visually – those who are motivated primarily by what they see.
  • Auditorily – those who act through what they hear.
  • Kinesthetically — those who judge through physical sensations.
You can quickly recognise which group someone belongs to, by listening to the vocabulary they use. Examples…
  • Visuals tend to talk fast, wave their hands, look up with their eyes, dress well and say things like, “I’d like to see proof of that.”
  • Auditories tend to talk at a medium speed, have melodic and expressive voices, gesture and move their eyes from side to side and will say, “I hear you.”
  • Kinesthetics tend to speak very slowly and with great detail, look down as they speak, wear textured clothing, and talk about how they feel.
Detecting sensory preferences requires you to pay close attention to those with whom you come in contact.  This, in itself, makes you a more people-oriented, likeable person.  And when you learn how to synchronise with people using the vocabulary, they feel comfortable with, your ability to develop rapport with almost anyone will grow.