Building Rapport: See Me, Hear Me, Feel Me

Building RapportBuilding rapport is an art form. It’s the science of connecting with another person and quickly putting them at ease. Some folks seem to have been born with this talent, but anyone can do it with a little know-how and some practice.

Yesterday was my first post on building rapport. In it, I talked about the importance of reading body language, and how to use mirroring as one of your rapport-building skills. If you missed that post, I’d start reading there and then come back here. Click on this link (don’t worry, you won’t lose your place) and the post will open up in a new window for you and then you can come back.

Today, let’s talk about words and the role they play in building rapport!

Your Words Speak Volumes

Paying attention to the words people use when they speak can provide you with some great clues about how they relate to the world.

Generally speaking (no pun intended!)  you’ll find that people fall into three categories in terms of what their choice of words tell you about how they process information:  Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

See What I Mean?

How do you know if you’re speaking with a visual person?  Visual people say things like “I see,” or “It looks to me like….”  They tend to speak more rapidly than the average person, and (as it happens) they tend to breathe more rapidly, too.

Visual people are frequently gifted with the ability to describe scenes or scenarios with ease.  You’ll notice the visual speaker describing things as pictures, because that’s how they process information and how they store their memories.

If you find that you’re speaking with a visual person, start building rapport by “painting a picture” for them and using your words to paint the person into the scene.

Are You Hearing Me On This?

Some people form memories and perceptions based on sounds, voices and conversations.  They tend to pepper their speech with “It sounds like,” and “I hear you,” and they mean that literally.  These folks fall into the “auditory” category.

Auditory people have a great respect and appreciation for the spoken word.  They are usually great conversationalists, articulate and precise in their choice of language, and you’ll find that jokes, stories and detailed descriptions will go a long way with them.

With their love of language, it follows that auditory people are great listeners.  It makes them easy to talk to you, but remember: They value your listening to them, too.

I Feel You

People who process information with their other senses, especially their feelings, fall into the “kinesthetic” category.    They tend to be more emotional than visual or auditory types, and you’ll find that they sometimes have a difficult time putting their feelings into words.  When they do speak, they tend to be soft-spoken and by and large, will speak slowly and breathe deeply.

Kinesthetic people care less about facts than they do about feelings.  They will frequently follow their intuition and listen to their own “gut reaction.”

If you want to get them talking, try asking them “How do you feel about that?”  Or, “What’s your gut reaction?”

It’s generally not a good idea to do a “data dump” on a kinesthetic person; you run the risk of creating “overload.”  Instead, share your feelings with them and give them the opportunity to share theirs.

By combining body language and mirroring with an understanding of speaking styles, you’ll find that you’ll be building rapport with greater ease and creating new relationships with folks that you might not have connected with previously.

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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