The ability to communicate effectively involves knowing how your words and actions will affect other people. Knowing what to say and do is as important as knowing what not to say and do, and it’s a complicated process. It has been said that you will make it in this world partly based upon your ability to communicate with others.

You can further enhance the abilities of your brokers by introducing concepts and techniques that they can immediately use to become more effective with other people, not just in business, but in personal relationships as well. You and they will find this information useful in all areas of your life, from new and current personal relationships to business associates and customers. It works with children (even teenagers) and adults throughout the world. When dealing with people, certain things are universally true.

What is rapport, that certain “chemistry” that exists between some people and not others? What are its elements? Can it be created at will? The answers to these questions are briefly explored here.

It has been suggested that an initial impression — good or bad — is made within the first three seconds. How you look, how you package yourself, your smile, eye contact, are all important when you meet someone for the first time. You make instant judgments about others based on those factors; they do the same with you. As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Whether or not this is fair is immaterial. How we look, talk, and act all contribute to feeling that a person is “like me” or “not like me;” and to whether “I like them,” or “they will like me.”

The good news is that we can “package” ourselves to create the image we want to initially project. This package provides the first opportunity to influence others unconsciously. The next opportunity to positively influence a person occurs when you actually meet him or her and begin talking.

Communication occurs on two levels: conscious and unconscious with the unconscious accounting for 93 percent of the process. Therefore, how to develop, enhance, and maintain rapport on the unconscious level is a vital subject for those in sales and management.1

It’s all about “pacing”

Rapport is initially dependent upon how you “pace” the other person — using a combination of what you say, how you say it, and how it makes him or her feel. You pace other people to the extent that you are in agreement or alignment with them.

There are many ways you can pace another person and thereby establish rapport. The methods overviewed below fall into three basic categories: physical, mental and emotional.

People tend to like those who are most like themselves. As social beings we tend to associate with those people to whom we can most easily and comfortably relate on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. Those to whom we can relate on multiple levels often become friends or customers. If you want someone to form a favorable impression of you or to become your friend, you can increase the odds by being as much like him or her as possible.

Overview of techniques and approaches

Physical / You pace others by being as similar to them as possible, allowing them time to become comfortable with you. This includes your body posture, rate of speech, tonality, eye contact, and personal rhythm. Once you’ve gotten past this vital step, the relationship can develop further. Without knowing how to do it, your results will be based purely on luck. For example, people generally feel most comfortable with those who speak at the same rate of speech that they do. If you’ve ever had someone speak too quickly or too slowly for your comfort, you probably remember having a slightly uncomfortable feeling during that conversation. If you were affected this way, the person you were with may have had a similar reaction to you if your speech pattern was substantially different. Exhibiting subtly matching body posture is another very powerful technique.

Mental Become interested in who people are, what their needs are, and what makes them tick. By doing more listening than talking you prove your interest. Learn to ask intelligent questions and become a good conversationalist. Also learn to match the words others use that reflect their primary thinking pattern. For example, phrases like “It looks good to me,” or “It sounds good to me,” or “It feels good to me,” mean essentially the same thing, but indicate that a person’s mental processes are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic/feeling, respectively. For the visual person you should use visually oriented words such as “look,” “see,” and “visualize,” and show them charts and graphs. You should also shift your word choices for auditory and kinesthetic people. These shifts make a dramatic difference in your ability to motivate and persuade.

Emotional Match people’s general mood, at least somewhat. For example, don’t be high-energy if they are laid-back; that’s a turn-off. Rather, be even-keeled and try to lead them to a higher energy level. Of course, if someone is happy and enthusiastic, project yourself as the same.

Decisions are often made based on unconscious evaluations centering on whether people feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Having an awareness of these unconscious processes and rapport-building techniques give you and your brokers a big edge.

1 A more comprehensive article entitled “The Magic of Rapport,” presenting immediately usable sales ideas, is available free upon request. Additionally, an audio CD is available that explains the rapport-building process in much greater detail and with numerous demonstrations. Bonus items on the CD include: 1) a complete Power Point presentation that you can use in an office sales meeting to complement the audio portion, 2) participant handouts, 3) memory-jogger handouts, 4) a copy of “The Magic of Rapport” article with permission to reproduce and distribute it, and 5) an article entitle “The 2% Differential: The Differences That Make the Difference Between Top and Average Producers,” also with permission to reproduce and distribute as you see fit.