Building Rapport: 21st Century Marketing Revisited

Building RapportBuilding rapport is an art form and a science that has in some measure been relegated to the back shelf with the advent of Web 2.0 and the emerging Web 3.0 technologies.  As the Web, these technologies and their various applications have grown, the computer “interface” has supplanted good, old-fashioned, “face-to-face.”

To a point, the market has so fully embraced instant gratification that nearly every business transaction that required “high touch” has been reduced to a solitary experience with “high tech” instead.

However, there’s a growing movement calling for more personal contact, more “high touch,” to return to the marketplace.

Building rapport can be learned by anyone, and with a little practice, can help you to create relationships with ease.  The ability to put another at ease, to open the door to quality conversations, is a skill that will serve you well in any situation, and it’s an indispensable skill for 21st century marketing.

My previous two posts have looked at various aspects of building rapport.  If you haven’t read these posts, I recommend that you get started there and then come back here to finish the series.   (Don’t worry, the posts will open in new windows and you won’t lose your place!)  Click on this link to learn about body language and mirroring.  Click on this link to learn about speaking styles.

Where’d You Get Them Peepers?

You’ve no doubt heard it said that the eyes are the windows of the soul.  There’s sound reasoning behind this ancient proverb, for noticing a person’s eyes can often tell a whole story in itself.

When I was growing up, my parents drilled into me the importance of looking someone “in the eye” when I was speaking to them.  This was, in our entrepreneurial family, one of the “measures of a man.”  I was counseled not to trust someone who couldn’t look you in the eye, as that indicated that they were less than honest or hiding something.  That person, the one with the shifty gaze, was not one to do business with; was not one to believe.

I suspect that my parents and grandparents were not alone in their assessment of the importance of eye movements.  However, I have since come to appreciate that not all folks who can’t meet your direct gaze are shifty or hiding something; there are, as with all things, many reasons why some folks find this a challenge.

For building rapport, I encourage you to notice what people’s eyes are doing.  Are they able to look right at you, or do they look all around, rarely catching your eye?  This is important, as staring directly into the eyes of someone that has a difficult time easily meeting your gaze can be a threatening experience for that person.  Conversely, failing to meet the gaze of someone who looks you in the eye can have a negative impact on that relationship.  Nothing irks a person who looks directly at you more than to have you look away, never meeting their gaze.

Watching someone’s eyes can also give you clues as to how they process and retain information.  As you speak with someone, particularly after you ask them a question, notice their eyes:  do they look up, side-to-side, or down?  The direction of their glance will offer clues as to whether they are a visual processor (their eyes look up as though imagining the scenario), an auditory processor (their eyes look from from side to side as if trying to hear better), or a kinesthetic processor (their eyes look down, blocking out external stimuli, helping them to connect with their feelings.)

Matching eye movement, like mirroring body language, is an important part of building rapport.  It will go a long way towards putting that person at ease and will help to create an easy connection.

I Think Therefore I Am

Another interesting indicator of how a person processes information can be found by listening for “I think,” or “I feel” in their speech.  Various scientific disciplines  have posited that people are either intellectual or emotional processors of information.  These “categories” follow the right-brain, left-brain, logic-emotion delineation.

Building rapport has everything to do with communicating with someone in a way that is familiar to them; by using “I think” with folks who relate intellectually and using “I feel” with folks who relate emotionally, you are “speaking their language.”  You’ll notice greater ease in communication, and an increase in the number of people who are interested in what you have to offer when you present your information in a format that is familiar and comfortable for them.

Building Rapport and NLP

Neurolinguistic Programming is a broad and complex science.  There is far more to it than what I have presented in these posts.  While you don’t have to embrace all of it to become a pro at building rapport,  learning and practicing only a few of these techniques will help you to create deeper, more meaningful conversations with people.

As you become more skilled at building rapport, you’ll find that observing and recognizing how people react and respond becomes second nature; you’ll do it without thinking.  You’ll simply meet someone and naturally put them at ease, laying the path for open, honest, meaningful conversations.  Before you know it, you’ll find that you never meet a stranger – the world if full of new friends waiting to be discovered!

If you’d like to learn more, there’s a whole genre of work published on the science of building rapport, known as NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming.   This is a good place to start

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