Updated: Jun 16
Some people are not natural communicators. It is just a fact. Are you an awkward communicator? Especially when the other person is also not so talkative, here are some top tips to help you build rapport and communicate more effectively.
Practice, practicing to communicate.
Make it a challenge. Right today I am going to practice talking to …… and my aim is to understand ……..about them. Especially if you are a competitive, target driven, but socially quiet person, set yourself a personal target to practice. This will help with motivation. Remember PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT!
What is your goal? Can you share your goal with the other person?
“I wanted to understand how we can co-create something new. What ideas might you have to share about…….?
Is there something you can discover that you both (or all) like doing which would initiate a conversation?
“I heard you like trail running, I’d love to hear about the routes you have been on”
Doing a little bit of preparation can go a long way and set up great conditions to open up conversation.
Properly. Really mean it, with your eyes and even on the phone. It is a fact that smiling can be heard on the phone. A smile goes a long way!
Get down to their level
If you stand above someone it can be proven to be intimidating. If they are sitting, try crouching down next to their desk or pull up a chair. Equally if they walk up to you, asking them to pull up a chair (especially if you are a Leader) encourages openness.
Turn to face them if you are standing or sitting where possible. Turning with your body and feet to face the person, creates rapport.
Triple nod and head tilt
A 2017 Japanese study published in the Perception of Psychology journal studied nodding and how people reacted to this. They asked 49 adults to watch video clips of figures nodding, shaking their head, or staying still. The participants then rated the figures’ approachability, attractiveness, and likability. Nodding figures were rated 30% more likable and 40% more approachable than figures that shook their head or were motionless.
Make your nod slow and deliberate and a very slight head tilt shows them your ear and says “I am listening”.
Focus and if your mind wanders, realise this and take yourself back to the conversation. Mindfulness practice can help with this.
Ask open ended questions which are interesting (if possible)
“What do you do for a job? A Teacher" “Where do you live? Hong Kong."
These are close questions which may not initiate much excitement or adventurous thought. How about something a little different?
“What have you done which is most exciting in the last few weeks?”
“If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would it be and why?”
“What would be the most interesting thing you would like to do if you could travel anywhere right now?”
Ok it may throw your business colleagues a little off balance, but it is scientifically proven that asking these types of questions encourages your brain to go to a positive and creative area which immediately starts opening up possibilities for further conversation.
Show emotion and vulnerability
It has been proven that showing emotion and vulnerability can build rapport with people very rapidly. Sharing something which the other person may be able to identify with as well, especially as a Leader, shows that you are human as well and can open the other person up for sharing.
Give something personal away
Quid pro quo means "something for something" in Latin. Again like showing emotion or vulnerability, sharing some personal information about day to day or something special to you, especially outside of work can encourage people to open up and talk or share with you as well.
All of the above combined will help you communicate and build rapport much more quickly than just diving into a conversation. However remember as stated at the top, practice makes permanent and pushing yourself outside of that comfort zone for just a short time on a regular basis can turn those “awkward moments” into fun experiences and create more open relationships.
Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and Co Founder in New York with Patrick Bennett. She is also the Founder of recruitersgiveback.org a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. Caroline is a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Team Coach up to International Coaching Federation (ICF) and EMCC standards. www.successCL.com www.recruitersgiveback.org