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Building Rapport: Don’t Look In The Mirror, Be The Mirror!

The most important thing you can do to influence people is to establish rapport with them. When people like you and feel more comfortable with you, it’s way easier to move them to action. It’s easier to sell to them, to get their vote, to get the job or even to get the date. So how can you establish rapport? One highly effective technique is called “mirroring.”

It’s been proven that people respond to others who are similar to them. Sometimes it’s the little things that allow us to feel a commonality. So if you want to build rapport with someone, try mirroring their casual behaviors.

1. Use similar facial expressions.
2. Use similar speech patterns including volume, tempo and overall energy.
3. Match their posture. (Do they sit up? Slouch? Cross their legs?)
4. Use the same kind of humor. (or no humor if they use none)
5. Use the same vocabulary.
6. Find out in advance what they’re interested in so you can hold up a conversation.
7. Be aware of common friends or colleagues.

Clearly you don’t want just to copy them, which will make them feel mocked. Nor do you want to do something that is totally unnatural for you. The idea here isn’t to pretend to be something you’re not. You want to sell the real you. The goal is to make subtle choices that put others at ease and make them feel good about who you really are. This is achieved through casual mirrored behaviors.

Last year I was invited to interview at 20th Century Fox to co-host a TV special. I was prepared to be dignified and professional. But when I met the producers, they wore jeans, joked and were obnoxiously loud. I decided to play along – to fit in. I joked, I kicked back in my chair with my hands behind my head and chuckled as loud as they did. I wasn’t being fake. I just allowed my personality to be expressed in a similar fashion to theirs. And I could tell they were responding well. I nailed the meeting and got the job. (Typical of Hollywood, our show never aired.)

Often it’s the little, unnoticed things that allow us to connect with people. Start noticing. Next time you face an experienced sales person, look for them using these techniques on you. Learn to build rapport with people and you will be a person of major power and influence.

You may also want to read the articles: Network & Connect to Succeed, Connecting With Influential People, Help Yourself by Helping Others, or check out the Jump Start Leadership Workbooks.

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