Rapport: The Foundation of Communication

So let’s get started in understanding R1 – Rapport.

Rapport is defined as: “A state of mutual trust and respect existing between two or more people. Rapport is the primary basis for all successful communication.”

This is a very powerful definition. “Rapport is the primary basis for all successful communication.” Why? Because it creates: “A state of mutual trust and respect existing between two or more people.”

What happens when trust does not exist between you and the client?

  • Phone calls are not returned.
  • Information needed to prepare a proposal is hard to get (if you get it at all).
  • Difficult demands are made in price and proposal delivery.
  • Bottom line…you lose the deal!

How do you get into rapport? Well, if you are like most of my workshop attendees, you will answer the question by, “Finding out what you have in common with the other person.”

First, make an effort to find out if the person you’re inter­acting with has any of the following in common with you:

  • People you might know inside and outside of business.
  • Industry or trade associations you belong to.
  • Hobbies you are interested in.
  • Geographic location, where you grew up or lived.
  • Family members.
  • Restaurants frequented.

Why is finding out what we have in common so important? Think of what you like about a very good friend. Do you like the same things? Do you like the same hobbies? Now answer this question as honestly as you can, “Are they just like you?”

The answer is “Yes”. We like them because they are just like us. We all have experienced meeting new people and, within a few minutes, we decide if we like them or not. Why is that? Because we are deciding if they are just like us.

People buy from people they like. This is not the only thing, but this is very important in gaining rapport. We tend to trust those who like the same things we do, versus those who do not.

Common Sense Language

People process information using their five senses, but primarily through sight, sound and touch. If you say, “Show me what you are talking about,” you are communicating by using pictures in a seeing or “Visual” channel. If you say, “Sounds good to me,” you are communicating in a hearing or “Auditory” channel. If you say, “That does not feel right to me,” you are communicating in a feeling or “Kinesthetic” channel.

Why is this important? Have you ever tried to tune your radio to a specific channel and the reception was not clear? You can hear sounds but you cannot make them out? We all have different channels we use, depending on the situation and, just like the radio example, we can hear a sound but we cannot make out the picture or feeling.

How many of us are guilty of trying to help someone who is from another country by talking slowly and loud when answering a question? No matter how much we raise our voice, they still will not understand us. In the language of senses, this also happens. My friend tends to be more hearing or auditory while I tend to be more seeing or visual. She says, “You have not heard a thing I said,” and I respond, “You have not seen anything I have shown you.”

We are both right. I did not hear it and she did not see it. Guess what? Neither of us got the result we wanted from this conversation. I was once presenting to a client who said, “Tell me what you are proposing again and how your solution will sound better to my team versus your competition.” “Tell you,” I replied, “let me show you, by drawing a picture on the white board of what we can bring to you, focusing on our solution to your team’s problem and clearing up any questions that you might have about my company versus the competition.”

Review my prospect’s language. What language is he communicating in? What about my language? His was much more hearing or auditory while mine was much more seeing or visual. What do you think happened when the prospect was asked by his team how the presentation went with me? He replied, “He never really told me how his proposed solution was the right answer for us; it just did not click for me.”

What are the hearing words in his response?

Extra points if you said click.

I went back and my team asked, “Well, how did it go?” I said, “I drew him diagrams showing him the big picture, but he just did not understand. I do not see us getting the deal without more work.”

How many seeing or visual words did you see? Bonus points if you picked “big picture”.

We may be speaking the same language, but we are not always tuned to the same channel. Words are coming out of our mouths, but the intention of our communication is lost. Answering the following questionnaire will give you an idea of which channels you prefer.

Before you begin, a few rules:

Rule Number 1 -There is no right or wrong answer.

Rule Number 2 -You can and will have multiple choices. Some people have more than one way of processing information.

Rule Number 3 – Can you be all three: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic? Yes.

Rule Number 4 – Can you be any combination? Yes.

Rule Number 5 – Can you favor one over another?Yes.

Rule Number 6 – Which is better to have? See Rule Number 1.

Circle all that apply in each section:

VISUAL (seeing)

  1. If a white board or flip chart is available, I like to use it.
  2. I prefer learning to use a computer or a new application by first watching someone.
  3. I will create a picture in my mind or go back to one I know, when I am listening to someone.
  4. I like to explain things by drawing a picture of what I mean.
  5. When giving or getting directions I like to describe the landmarks that will be seen.
  6. I prefer to hear how to use the computer or new applications by listening to the steps and “how-to’s”.
  7. When getting or giving directions I want to hear how to get there. I want to get the street name and distances.
  8. I may repeat to myself internally or out loud what has just been said.
  9. I listen and can remember the details of what has been said.
  10. I process information by hearing details and statistics.

AUDITORY (hearing)

  1. I prefer to hear how to use the computer or new applications by listening to the steps and “how-to’s”.
  2. When getting or giving directions I want to hear how to get there. I want to get the street name and distances.
  3. I may repeat to myself internally or out loud what has just been said.
  4. I listen and can remember the details of what has been said.
  5. I process information by hearing details and statistics.

KINESTHETIC (feeling)

  1. I am a doer.
  2. When asking or giving directions I want to be pointed to the right direction and I will get a sense of how to get there.
  3. I prefer to learn to work on a computer or a new application by just getting started and asking questions if I get stuck.
  4. I find that when I’m in a meeting, words come and go because I listen more for the feeling behind the words.
  5. I would rather take a walk, exercise, or get involved in sports than watch TV or read a book or magazine.

Now add up how many you have for each channel:
Visual ________ Auditory __________ Kinesthetic

What Language Do You Use?

Which language do you favor? Did you discover that you like all of them but one a little bit more, or did you like one and not the others? So what does all this mean? Depending on the topic or situation, it shows that you process information more quickly and understand it better using certain channels. To illustrate my point, so it can resonate with you and help you grasp my meaning, this is what each channel represents.

  • Visuals (seeing) people need to see the whole picture. You see in pictures, colors, and shapes and, as people talk to you, often you go back in your mind’s eye to recall a picture. If one is not there, you create a picture of what it would look like. You talk fast and many times use your hands to help show people what you are talking about.
  • Auditory (hearing) people talk slower so they can hear their words, tones and sounds. You like to hear all of the facts and get the detailed information.
  • Kinesthetic (feeling) people appear relaxed and speak slowly with pauses in between phrases. You make decisions based on a gut feel. You take detailed notes and appear to be very quiet as compared to the rest of the group.

The following is a sample list from each language.

VISUAL AUDITORY KINESTHETIC
See Listen Touch
Appear Hear Grasp
Focused Deaf Catch on
Mental image Rings a bell Sharp as a tack
Hazy Manner of Pull some
Speaking strings
Dim view State your purpose Not following you
Foggy Harmonize Make contact
Crystal clear Describe in detail Hang in there
Imagine Hidden message Come to grips with
See to it Manner of speaking Slip through
Tunnel vision Unheard of Get a handle on
Dim view Well informed Concrete
Plainly see Voiced an opinion Pain in the neck
Get a perspective Rings a bell Slipped my mind
Illuminate Be heard Tap into
Reveal Resonate Throw out
Clear cut Loud and clear Know how
Twinkle Tune in/out Catch on
Shortsighted Word for word Boils down to

Learning to speak in another person’s language, whether it is visual, auditory or kinesthetic, will get you into rapport at a deeper level, and quickly. Both of you benefit because you are communicating in the language in which they prefer to process information.

I have been blessed by traveling and working in many countries. I always found that if I attempt to speak another person’s language, they smile; and, not only do they help me, but our relationship improves. Every foreign language has a richness of describing and communicating situations, events, problems, results, prices, requirements, etc.

Lost in Translation

We sometimes lose so much in translation that we do not realize we are losing a potential client. We may have talked ourselves out of it or failed to show them the vision or let them touch the product. Because we speak in the language we favor, we miss all of the cues, simply because we did not know another language existed. Imagine the difference you can make in your own professional and personal relationships with the knowledge you have just gained? Using these communication techniques gives you the ability to have your message received clear as a bell. It allows your audience to catch on and have a concrete understand­ing of the point you are trying to make, because you are revealing what you intend to communicate in a language others use to process information. I Hope I covered all my visual, auditory and kinesthetic bases with that last paragraph.

Carefully listen to words, voice patterns and body movements of the person you are communicating with.

Listen and observe and decide which language you think they are using. If you think you know the language they are using …test it. Start speaking in their language and observe the results.

Try saying: “My guess is that you would prefer to get information from me that (insert one of the following: shows you, OR, details information along with specifications in writing, OR, allows you to test drive to get a feeling) of how our service/product will provide the results you are seeking. Is this right?” Based on their answer, you will know if you chose the wrong words and which channel you should use with them. You must now speak in the language they prefer. Just like learning a foreign language, you will find it difficult at first but, with practice, it becomes much easier.

A good way to practice this is to use your standard presentation and go through it completely, using auditory words and phrases, then kinesthetic, and finally visual. If you have someone in your office who has a different language preference, do this exercise with them. They can help you with their language and you can help them with yours.

Body Talk

If you pay attention to two people deep in conversation (I do not want you to listen in), watch their bodies. If they are having a good conversation they will match their positions closely, but not exactly. If the couple is having a disagree­ment, watch their bodies do the opposite. One person may sit back while the other person may move in. Turn on your TV and make sure to turn the sound off and watch an interview. It cannot be something that has been rehearsed or staged but must be live, like Larry King. The morning programs, such as The Today Show, are also good examples of watching an interview. They often set up two chairs facing one another and have their guest sit in one with the interviewer in the other. Watch their bodies as the interview progresses and observe how they match each other closely. Turn the sound up and see if they appear to be in rapport.

Interesting to note that, as we get into rapport with someone, we begin to match closely how they are sitting or where their hands are placed. All of this is done without thinking about it.

What do you do if you go into a meeting and your prospect takes off his coat? I bet you think, “I’ll take my coat off.” Why? Because you want to match them. I remember going to meetings before business casual became more of the rule than the exception. We struggled a bit with our dress code, so guess what we ended up doing? Our policy matched whatever the client’s was.

The idea is to mirror or match the person you are communicating with and to do it quickly. Remember, this is something your body will do naturally, once you get into rapport. The difference is, you are aware that this happens. Because you have this knowledge, it is important not to do exactly what they do. You’d look silly, and the other person will wonder why you are doing exactly what they do, taking both of you out of rapport. Of course, they may laugh at you or get ticked at you.

At first just pay attention to those around you and observe what happens. Watch some TV interviews. Pay attention to what happens to you naturally. Practice with your friends and family first and then use a mirror and match your prospects and clients.

Follow My Voice

Does everyone in New York talk fast? Does everyone in the South talk slow? Of course not. We speak at our own tempo, pitch, tone and volume. I have a friend who talks loud and I find, after a while, I am talking loud too! Sometimes without realizing it, you match other people’s voice, tone, tempo, pitch and volume. Just like matching the body, you can do this with your voice as well. And just like mirroring the body, if you do this exactly, it sounds silly.

Summary

R1 Rapport is the primary basis for all successful communication because it creates “A state of mutual trust and respect between two or more people.”

  • We generally get into rapport by finding out what we have in common. For instance, people, industry or trade associations, hobbies and geographic location.
  • We process information using our senses and generally favor one:
  • Visuals (seeing) people need to see the whole picture. You see in pictures, colors, and shapes. As people talk, you often go back in your mind’s eye to recall a picture and, if one is not there, you create a picture of what it would look like. You talk fast and, many times, use your hands to help show people what you are talking about.
  • Auditory (hearing) people talk slower so they can hear their words, tones and sounds. You like to hear all of the facts and get the detailed information.
  • Kinesthetic (feeling) people appear relaxed and speak slowly with pauses in between phrases. You make decisions based on a gut feel. You take detailed notes and appear to be very quiet, as compared to the rest of the group.
  • Matching the body is a powerful rapport technique, so long as you don’t mirror the other person exactly.
  • Just like matching the body, you can do this with your voice as well. And just like mirroring the body, if you do this exactly, it sounds silly.

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