Wrapping Your Head around Rapport

How do we build rapport with others?

 

We have all heard of ‘having rapport’; hearing someone say “she has a great rapport with her customers”,”He has a great rapport with the crowd”. Rapport isn’t something you can hold in your hands and as a commodity, it can’t be weighed on a set of scales. So what is it? And more importantly, how do we get cultivating some for ourselves.

I would say simply, Rapport is a mutually respected bond between two or more people that is built by complementary exhanges. Be they views, emotions or information.

Rapport is built slowly in a business and professional setting, cultivating and maintaining ties, offering assistance and providing help. Going the extra mile for the other party with no real expectation of immediate payoff.

Sometimes though, you need to put your rapport building into overdrive. Occasions like networking events, public events, social gatherings etc. You need to build a fairly firm connection with another person or group and have them or mutual parties, vouch and confirm that you are geniuine and have a genuine desire to connect. Sure, you can leave them a business card, contact details, Linkedin request and/or schedule another time to meet. But you need to get the initial hook in and start building rapport. This will build that genuineness and demonstrate your credibility.

Read Credibility – What is it? 

How do we consciously build rapport then I hear you ask. Well, we have a plethora of options available to us. We just need to temper them to the situation we find ourselves in.

Firstly, we need to understand that building rapport is a risk and reward exercise. generally the safest acts and rituals will not move the needle, because you are only conforming to normal standards, i.e shaking hands when you meet. (99% of people in a business setting do that). You need to be further up the risk ladder if you are to get the result you want. If you are sharing your emotions and deep thoughts, whilst engaging in a riveting conversation or exchange, be it in agreement or not. Then you are up the risk ladder and your payoffs and rewards are potentially greater. Read my piece on debates and exchanges here.

The middle ground to this aproach is a happy medium which you can achieve after you have shaken hands, kissed cheeks, bowed respectfully to one another or even performed a curtsey. This green zone is an area where you share facts and information, these exchanges are safer as they are grounded in reality and if you are both passionate about the subject you are sharing, you will likely be able to agree on; or add more information and facts to the conversation. From here, as confidence increases and nerves setlle, you can then go up the ladder to the emotions, ideas and judegements plateau!

Some key takeaways for building rapport and demonstrating a genuine, authentic and mindful personality are:

  • Not rushing the encounter or overloading the other party
  • The conversation makes sense in the context of the interaction
  • Equality and Empathy – treat your conversation partner(s) with respect and dignity
  • Discuss Topical Issues, extracting their views or opinions to help shape your response – this shows you are an active/attentive listener (fantastic trait)

Some key red flags and definite rapport burners are:

  • Over famliarity
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Arrogant and officious demeanor or attitude
  • Judgemental or pious stance on others andn the views they hold
  • Poor communication (goes without saying)

On a final note, I would advise anyone serious in their career, passion or just self development, to understand the value and potential massive ROI you can receive from just being a good conversationalist and rapport builder. Most successful people I know, in business and leisure have stumbled on more opportunities and life changing moments because they made the right connections and sparked the right minds into conversations. Get out there and show people just how much you can bring to any conversation and moment.

 

“Rapport equals trust plus comfort.” – Neil Strauss, American Author, Journalist and Ghostwriter.

For more public speaking advice, coaching and assistance please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Fear of Public Speaking? 

Is it really a ‘Fear’?

A lot of people can relate, over 50% of the UK and US to be more precise. Speaking in front of people can be a daunting and uneasy affair.

Now you know that you are not alone. Even I still get cagey leading up to a talk. So it is easy to see why people sometimes lose control of their natural aversion. A natural aversion can become a fear without warning. That’s all that it is, an aversion. We just take it to an unhealthy level. So how do we grasp, identify, break and then reprogramme our minds?
Here is what we will cover in this post.

  • Understanding Fear

  • Framing Our Aversion

  • Breaking Down Our Aversion

  • Building A New System

Understanding Fear

A lot of people ‘fear public speaking’ apparently. A lot of mentors and coaches have products and systems that sell you the ‘silver bullet’ with offers like -“Overcome your fear of public speaking with our one week course”. Overcoming a fear is not a simple fix that takes a week or can be solved by a one day workshop. Genuine fears are things that are deep rooted and often stem from traumatic events in the past.

These boulders in a persons mind can’t be ‘blasted out’. They need to be chipped away with a pick-axe, with consistency and patience over time. We don’t sell silver bullets or quick fixes here. If you want to up your game, you have to work at it.

While 1% of us may have a genuine old fashioned Phobia of public speaking. 99% of us just have a plain and simple healthy aversion to it. As the Oxford Dictionary states, FEAR is –  An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

Fear is a response, and automatic sensor suite if you will. A suite designed to protect you from the aforementioned threats stated above. Ironically, as good as our evolved brains and bodies are at getting us out of the path of danger and jeopardy. They also get us off the path of success and recognition.

How many times have you kicked yourself for not answering a question? Held yourself back from saying what everyone was thinking only to see someone else get the praise? In trying to keep us safe and secure in our safe zone, our nervous system actually holds us back from the success and credit we deserve.

We internalise emotions. Our stress levels and heart-rate increase. Whether in a conference room, under pressure to deliver. Or on a backstreet being held at knife point for your personal possessions. To your brain, you have found yourself in a situation you do not want to be in and so a “fight or flight” instinct triggers. It begins to take control of your body, kind of like a master override switch. Once switched, the system then has one purpose. SURVIVE.

In a conference room, you are not at knife point and no one is threatening you. But your brain does not distinguish between scenarios. It has emotions to feed it’s sensors. Your brain has it’s wires crossed and needs to be reigned in!

We have to turn the SURVIVE switch off. Then in it’s place, we build a new switch. One that YOU control and turn on when YOU need it. One that makes you THRIVE.

Framing Our Aversion

Now we know what fear actually is, we can go about framing our own aversion of public speaking. Fear is not a factor. Aversions are what keep you out of discomforts. An aversion is a dislike or a disinclination to do something. For example, a lot of people don’t like Sushi. I.e. They have an aversion to it.

Public speaking is the same, we are averse to it. But if we try both, continue to sample and test small bits. We learn to appreciate and understand the thing in question. For example, I like Sushi and hate wasabi. I like to speak on scientific topics and I am terrible at Improv/Comedy. We learn about each new thing and its nuances, at the same time learning about ourselves.

Once you can identify ‘aversions’ in your life. You will quickly be able to identify between a simple dislike and avoidance. Maybe you don’t like pork but still eat beef. Cats but not dogs. You get my drift…

Logically you can now frame public speaking and your aversion to it. Go deeper still and get into the weeds of it. I wasn’t averse to standing in front of people but I was painfully worried about getting facts wrong, or stammering/stuttering (I had a stutter as a kid). Understand what it is about being in the spotlight that makes your heart skip a beat.

Breaking Down Our Aversion

Breaking down the aversion is simple in essence. we get exposure to it. We take small steps in confidence building. Play to your strengths, use them to accelerate progress. If you are a good listener or love to read. Use those skills to research and absorb new information and techniques, (like you are doing now…).

A Break-through occurs when you consistently make small progress towards goal(s). Turn up and be consistent. This is how empires were built, how rail-roads conquered mountains and why professional success in any field occurs. Progress is progress, no matter how slow or small.

Aim to simply be slightly better than you were yesterday and ensure that you monitor your progress. People generally give up doing or trying something because they fail to notice small progress and see their goal as one huge target in the distance.

Building A New System

Stumbling into greatness does not work. ‘Greatness’ is also a relative term. I.e. what level I consider to be great might be different to what you see. If you are a terrified public speaking, don’t see Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King as the benchmark. It is about building a system in which YOU are the best speaker that you can be. Its not about imitation or replication, anyone can do an unconvincing portrayal of someone else and their style.

Instead, we want to build our own individual and unique style. A system whereby your personality, style and individuality are on show. Be great in your own way. Not by someone else’s barometer of greatness.

A new system does not happen overnight. After all, it takes times and commitment to break down an aversion and change your behaviour to something you are not comfortable doing. So make it about smaller more manageable goals and then work on them. Tiny and consistent progress on the micro level makes huge break-throughs on the macro level.

Focus on grasping and perfecting the fundamentals. Do exercises that build up confidence and muscle memory. The same principles generally apply in breaking down an aversion and then building in its place. You want to make slow and steady progress towards an end state. In this style, you can monitor the smaller details, the nuts and bolts of your grand vision. The Eiffel Tower is amazing. But if someone didn’t work on the nuts and bolts, it would have never of been built.

 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglass – social-reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman

Avoid Becoming A Yes-Man

How Do You Avoid Becoming The Captain’s Parrot?

Everyone is familiar with the image of a Ship’s Captain with a Parrot on his shoulder. The Parrot echoes the Captain, squawking nonsense from the top deck of the ship. That is what I see when working with someone who is unable to think for themselves and just agrees with the companies ideas, policies, etc… They do not rock the boat. Which is fine in most situations, however it shows a lack of drive, imagination, knowledge and initiative.

We have all worked with or know of someone who always seems to take others opinions. Taking their information from the mainstream media without questioning its validity or bias.

Those who generally do not form their own opinions or question the nature of life’s different offerings tend to be easily misinformed, refuted and led. These are the people that you are working alongside and may even find them as your superiors from time to time. A scary thought right?

Something ‘Yes-Man’ don’t have, Read – Credibility – What is it? 

So how do you avoid becoming the Captain’s Parrot? At work for instance, just echoing company rhetoric and always taking the bosses word for it are two prime examples of parroting. A business practice might be unethical, maybe even bordering illegal, the captains parrot will not speak out against his master.

But someone who is informed and knowledgeable will speak out because they don’t just take what they are told as Gospel truth. The quickest and most sure-fire way of avoiding the title of ‘Yes-Man’ is to strive to be informed. From multiple sources. Never rely on a single source when it comes to forming opinions and ideas. Everyone can be guilty of this from time to time. ‘Gossip’ is by far the most dangerous medium for information. Inaccurate, twisted, subjective and nearly always intended to undermine who it pertains to.

I take great pride when someone informs me of gossip pertaining to myself. See it as a barometer of success. The more you achieve, the more people will want to bring you down or dash your efforts.

If your success has afforded you the luxury of having people work for you. Then congratulations. But before you go ahead and pat yourself on the back, look at your talent and take stock of who you have employed. Employing a ‘Yes-Man’ is just as dangerous as being one.

Don’t be the stick in the mud or the party pooper, but always seek to question things. That is how you demonstrate your value and communicate to others you are happy to follow the majority when required but if the moment requires it, you can stand up and inform your peers clearly and concisely on an alternative idea.

“I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job”. – Samuel Goldwyn – American Film Producer