How do we go about starting a ‘real’ conversation with someone we are attracted to or need to have a business relationship with when we struggle with anxiety and low self-confidence? Building relationships in our personal lives, or in business, relies on us being able to utilise the innate resource we have to build rapport. With the increase in social media to find a partner it seems we might have forgotten that we have this skill.
The key to the start of any conversation, even if it’s with someone we already know, is to do a little rapport building. It helps makes both parties feel more comfortable and relaxed and sets the tone for the rest of the chat. Perhaps this could be seen as the beginning of a ‘dance’.
What are the steps? There are 9 steps to try. The first three are below. Why not start practising these? It will help you feel more confident and less anxious.
Pacing and Leading
First off it’s good to do a little mirroring of body language and facial expressions. This shows the other person we are interested. If your date or prospective business contact is nervous and sits on the edge of the chair at the beginning of the conversation and you show empathy by matching this behaviour, they will start to relax. Try it, believe me it works. It can also help you relax too. You will have got something to concentrate on other than ‘have I worn the right clothes?’ etc. You can, after a short time ‘lead’ and sit back in a more relaxed way which should elicit more mirroring, further easing any nerves, relaxing you both even more.
This refers to your tone of voice, the speed and volume of the phrases. Sometimes we are so wound up with nerves that we might talk too quickly or swear or use a high tone of voice. If we can match vocabulary, speed and tone with the person we are talking to, they are more likely to calm down naturally than if we under-respond or ask them in a very quiet voice to ‘calm down’ or quit using the swear words!
Using statements and questions that will elicit a ‘yes’ response encourages quick rapport building. It’s a technique to be used sparingly but is very effective for a quick win. For example: ‘It’s really rainy out there today, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes.’ Or: ‘You found the room, that’s great!’ ‘Yes.’ You’ve found common ground and this is intrinsically relaxing.
Return to this page in a few days to learn the next 3 steps.