Rapport building – a technique or something deeper?

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If all of us have different perceptions of the world we live in (what a blessing this is!) then we need to find a way to understand what the other person’s world looks like. The only way we can see, feel and think what they think is to ask questions.

Being questioned can sometimes feel like an interrogation. As well as being able to ask questions in a less intrusive way, it helps if we are able to build a level of rapport with the person we are speaking with.

There are many techniques that can help to create a feeling of rapport; those of you who have been on sales and NLP courses will be aware of matching, mirroring and crossover mirroring which are techniques to form a connection through similar body language. These techniques are extremely useful when looking to build rapport with a difficult client or with someone whose views you don’t agree with.

The problem with technique is that, unless it is performed extremely well (practice is essential), it can seem a little hollow and without feeling. We have all sat across someone in a meeting who smiles and nods enthusiastically as we are delivering a sincere and heartfelt pitch but whose eyes betray different thoughts and feelings.

Behind all good technique is substance. A professional sportsperson will possess an excellent technique but often the difference between winning and losing will be their unique motivations and attitudes that give their skill real meaning.

Who are the people you like spending time with? They may well have excellent rapport building technique and yet I would argue that they have something more under the surface – a genuine interest in you.

So, as you are sitting in front of a potential client scratching your nose and crossing and uncrossing your legs in unison, stop a moment and think whether you are really concentrating on being interested in what they have to say…

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