How to build rapport and build relationships

secretgirlsYou know those people that you just click with – the ones that make you feel great and are really cool that you want to be around?   Have you noticed I am one of them?  If not, we need to hang out more!  If you have noticed, this might be why…. I love to make new friends and I will tell you a secret: I haven’t always been good at it.  I had to learn what some people seem to do instinctively.  You are sitting there, reading this, hoping to get better at making friends, because you care.  So if you don’t know me well, we need to get together because you are the kind of person that wants to improve and have friends and that means you are similar to me.  If you are in Burley, Idaho stop into my office.  So, I know that sometimes you do or say stuff and embarrass yourself or come across as a complete dork.  It’s alright, I still like you… so nerd, here’s the word – a gift from me to you:

Here is how I maximize my chances of building a rapport.  The basic principle is that we all like people like our selves.  Another principle behind creating rapport is to act like rapport is already there.  This has been extremely useful in job interviews, meeting new clients, dating, and strengthening existing relationships.  Using these tools you can turn any acquaintance into a friend.

  • Talk at their pace – You may need to slow down or speed up.  Ever notice how annoyed you get speaking with someone that talks “too fast” or “too slow?”  Talking at their pace is courteous and you will be less annoying!
  • Mirroring – use similar body language.  This naturally happens between people in a state of good rapport, you already do it at times.  Don’t overdo it, keep it subtle.  Remember people like people that are like them.
  • Teasing – This is a good one, and I would add that you need to be careful with this one.. don’t assume too much.  People tease those that they have a strong rapport with.  Light teasing can create a strong sense of connection, go too far though and you will come across as a jerk.
  • Tell secrets – It doesn’t have to be anything ground shaking, it could be anything really, even if it is just telling them something in a way that suggests it is a secret.  Telling a secret tells them that you trust them and feel safe with them and assumes rapport is there.
  • Give gifts – Even just offering them a bottled water, if accepted, can make them feel better about you.  Gifts tend to make them want to do something for you and feel worse about turning you down.  Gift giving is a positive relationship tool in any culture.
  • Talk about their interests – It sounds backwards, but being interested is the key to them finding you interesting.
  • Find and maximize commonality – “Find a connection, then go in that direction” is a phrase someone once said that stuck in my mind.  Maximizing similar interests tells them you are similar to them and gives you something to build your relationship on and it gives you something to talk about each time you run into them.  It could be that you both have similar political views, or you both are in the same religion, or you both love the same TV show.
  • Label them to someone else – If you are talking with them and someone calls, use that as an opportunity to express your feelings to them.  Example:  You are talking with a new acquaintance and things are going well and your cell phone rings.  You could say “Hey could I give you a call right back?  I’m visiting with a friend.”  Or if at a function, you could introduce them to someone else as your friend.
  • Spread good rumors – This is a round-about way of labeling them to someone else.  Basically you talk well of a person with the knowledge that it will likely get back to them.  This is less immediate, but infinitely more meaningful, and what a great way to do something kind!

A note about romantic rapport… First build the friendship and maintain it using the tools above, as it is an essential foundation to creating the trust necessary for intimacy.  The same aforementioned skills are very powerful flirting tools… with a slight twist.  If you want to create a stronger romantic connection with someone, go through this list again and imagine using them in a romantic way to create intimacy.  Specifically, during intimate moments mirroring can be taken to an extreme, including breathing, blinking, etc.  Tell them a secret that is really how you feel about them.  Or label them as something that makes them shine and suggests more than a platonic interest.

Now go back and re-read this and notice which tools I used in this blog posting.

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