Monday, August 5, 2013

You Remind Me of ... Me!

You are about to walk into a room filled with military officers. They are dressed in pressed and smartly creased uniforms. They are standing at attention. You walk in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and immediately slump down into a chair, asking, “What’s up, guys?”

What happens in such a scenario? Do you attain rapport with these people? Will there be a sense of connection between you? Will they believe that you understand them? Not hardly.

You are sitting across the desk of your manager. She is relaxed, sitting comfortably in her chair, with one arm on the desk and the other resting in her lap. You, however, are sitting in your chair as if a steel rod has been inserted where your backbone use to be. Both of your hands are placed on either knee. Your head is rigidly still and your skin is taught with the strain of “being serious.”

How will your manager be interpreting your demeanor as she is communicating with you? What do you think the chances are for you to establish a sense of connection with her?

You are seeking to communicate to a potential client the value of what you have to offer. This client’s demeanor is Eor-like: she speaks low and moves slow. You, however, are shooting words at her in a high-pitched, rapid-fire fashion, and gesticulating as if you were a Pentecostal preacher under the anointing.

Do you honestly think she is saying to herself: “Wow, this guy really gets me”?

Understanding that people are comfortable with people who are like them and applying this to how you stand, sit, gesture, breathe, and speak (tonality, pace, word choices, etc.), go a long way toward attaining and maintaining rapport. You don’t have to mirror the other person—in fact, if you do, he will think you are making fun of him! However, if the differences between your demeanors are extreme, the possibility of rapport is minimal.

Rapport is a process that needs monitoring throughout your communication. Am I establishing an atmosphere of trust?  Am I communicating ongoing understanding of who this person is, what they want, what they need, what they fear, what they hope for, and etc.? Reaching out with your ears, your eyes, and your heart or feelings: is there a sense of connection, conducive to the goal of your communication? There will be, if you remind them of someone.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

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