There have been countless books written about influencing and rapport building strategies, many of which have been the result of years of psychological research. As someone who is a qualified NLP Practitioner (‘neuro-linguistic programming’ which is an approach to how language and feelings affect our outcomes), I have seen how effective these strategies can be. But…if I may start a sentence with a very NLP unfriendly word…I have always felt that if we look at these strategies in isolation we can become rather mechanical in our interactions with people.
When two people have developed a good connection with each other they will often display similar mannerisms and intonation during conversation. Now, is it purely the ‘mirroring’ of this body language that builds this rapport or is it something else? I would argue that it is the intention behind the mirroring that is most important and this is something that is extremely hard to fake or manufacture.
If your intention is to listen with an open mind, to listen in order to learn about the person speaking with you and to listen without planning your next sentence then you will find that building rapport will come easily to you. Being a great listener is something we should all aspire to be.