Whatever your goal is, you will benefit from connecting with strangers. We go through life surrounded by other people. Continually surround yourself with the right ones, and your doors will open faster and with much less effort on your part.
Have you ever met someone only to feel an immediate connection to them? Maybe you both felt it, or one of you said something like, “I feel like I’ve known you my whole life.”
We tend to naturally like and connect with people that we can relate to ourselves. That’s why you experience a sense of connection and fondness when you learn that someone has a similar interest, life experience, or purpose to your own. And when it’s with the right person, building that instant rapport can change your life.
A lot of research has been done on how we build rapport, to the point that specific techniques have emerged. There are, in fact, repeatable and measurable ways you can incorporate into how you communicate that can help someone you’ve never met like, trust or relate to you better. Think of how useful that might be for enhancing your career, business or family life.
3 Ways To Walk In and Make A Stranger Like You
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
– Dale Carnegie
Before we go any further, it’s important to address an elephant in the room: the four techniques offered int his article for building rapport with new people are intended to be used as tools for reaching your goals. It should be implied that if you choose to try any of these techniques, you are using them ethically. They are not intended for deception of any sort.
As much as we like to think our words teach others about us, our body language most often gives away clues on how we’re feeling in a certain setting or around other people.
To build rapport means that you’ve gained trust, respect or a sense of being liked by someone you may or may not know well. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Match their modality
Each person has a unique modality that typically dominates how they perceive the world around them. Those modalities are seeing, hearing, or feeling.
First, ask yourself which is yours. How do you primarily interpret information in your brain? Do you see it, hear it, or feel it?
“Hearers” for example, tend to relate well because of their ability to naturally absorb all of the auditory stimuli around them.
“Feelers”, on the other hand, will mesh well because their descriptions of an experience tend to include their kinesthetic perception, or internal feeling, about the thing being described. For example, pretend I said, “I just feel like this isn’t going to work.” You have insight that I may be physically feeling the negative sensations associated with failure, discord or inefficiency.
Next time you find yourself and coworker or family member on a different page as you try to solve a problem, listen to the language they use to describe the experience. If they say, “I’m seeing a lot of dysfunction that I’d like to fix,” you now know their modality. Meet them where they are at, even if you aren’t naturally a “see-er”. Speak in terms of sight and be more mindful of how the situation may visually appear.
You may very well find that person vigorously nodding their head at the same solution you offered previously — only now you are speaking their language.
2. Match their voice and language
Similar to modalities, an individual’s voice and chosen language gives clues to how they are feeling internally. If you consciously match these things, they may perceive you as someone who understands what they are feeling.
Ask yourself about their tone or volume. Is it loud or soft? Confident or monotone?
In all likelihood, a stranger will disguise parts of how they are really feeling because of social norms. They may feign confidence when feeling uncomfortable. This gives you an added advantage, because you can actually match their strategy and tone, giving them even more of a reason to believe you understand them.
Also ask how they articulate their concepts. Do they speak in analogy or metaphor? Are they future- or present-focused? Tweak your own to match theirs and watch as they quickly warm up to you.
3. Match their common experiences
It’s simply a fact that we like people who are like us. Just as it’s easy to stay with what we know and what is comfortable, it’s easy for us to trust and like someone that seems to understand who we are and where we’ve been.
Without being inauthentic, do all that you can to relate. Listen carefully when someone tells a story, and see if you can relate it to one of your life experiences. Relate how you experienced it to how they might have, and dive deep into that. Ask as many questions as possible. At least 80% of this option is listening to another person. Done correctly, you shouldn’t be talking much at all.
Don’t try so hard that you feel the need to make things up. And whatever you do, never “one up” someone’s experience. That is a surefire way to shut someone off to the possibility that you are like them. If anything, they may perceive you as someone who only thinks about themselves.
Becoming a connector
Add one or all of these to your repertoire for interacting with people this week and beyond. Treat them as tools in your toolbox and practice them as much as you can. Even if you come across someone with a modality that you find difficult to interpret, you at least gain valuable information about how they see the world. That can serve you leaps and bounds down the road as you build a relationship with this person.
Remember, tools for your toolbox. Use these to grow fruitful and long-lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial to your personal life, career, or business. The key is to practice as much as possible and be willing to put yourself in a room where new people will be.