Have you ever met someone and somehow instantly knew you were going to be friends? Then you’ve experienced rapport. To me, rapport is like the fairy dust of sales — it lets you connect to people so deeply that you can pick up on signals from them that you normally wouldn’t even notice.
Unlike fairy dust, rapport comes down to a few pretty specific components, which means that you don’t have to leave it up to chance. You may not ever be very close with somebody that you don’t naturally click with, but you can always do things to increase the rapport between you, including:
Match and mirror their body language
I’m sure you know how important body language is for pitching and face to face sales conversations. But did you know that you can actively use your body language to build rapport with someone? It all comes down to matching and mirroring.
Matching is when you do the same thing that the person you’re talking to is doing. For instance, if they pick up their cup with their right hand, you pick up your cup with your right hand.
Mirroring is when you literally mirror their actions. So in this case, if they pick up their cup with their right hand and you’re sitting across from them, you pick up your cup with your left hand.
Both are good for building rapport, but mirroring is definitely the stronger of the two, because when you pull it off right, you’re literally creating a mirror image of them. This tacitly honours their way of behaving and their beliefs about the world, which is hugely powerful.
Match their voice
You can also change your tone of voice to be closer to that of the person you’re talking to. People actually tend to do this naturally: for instance, if a woman with a very high pitched voice and a man with a very low pitched voice are talking, both will change their pitch to be somewhere more in the middle. If you deliberately modify your voice to be closer in pitch to your conversation partner, you’ll create a similar effect to mirroring their body language.
The biggest mistake you can make in building rapport is to do something that’s not natural to you. This might sound contradictory. After all, didn’t I just tell you to change your body language and your voice?
But there’s a difference between modifying your stance or voice and staying within the range of what’s natural to you and exactly mimicking someone to the point of absurdity.
So keep it subtle, and stick with things that are within your natural range of motion or voice — because anything that rings false will destroy the rapport you’ve been working so hard to build.
Until next time,