Robin Dreeke is head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program.
In his book It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone he simply and clearly spells out methods for connecting with people.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the methods.
1) Establish artificial time constraints
Nobody wants to feel trapped in an awkward conversation with a stranger.
Robin often begins a conversation with something along the lines of “I’m on my way out but before I left I wanted to ask you…”
2) Make Sure Your Body Language is In Sync
Make sure your words and body language are aligned and both are non-threatening.
A simple smile is the most powerful nonverbal technique, as Dale Carnegie let us know.
3) Speak Slowly
Quick speech can sound nervous and jumpy, not confident. Crazy people speak quickly; self-assured people speak slowly.
4) Ask For Help
When a request is small, we naturally feel a connection to those who ask us for help.
5) Suspend Your Ego
Avoid correcting people or anything that could be interpreted as one-upmanship.
Just listen. You don’t need to tell your story; just encourage them to keep telling theirs.
6) Validate Others
The simplest way to do this is to listen.
7) Ask: How? When? Why?
Ask open-ended questions.
Dreeke also recommends using a number of standard FBI active listening techniques you can read about here.
8) Quid Pro Quo
Some people don’t speak much. Other times you listen too well and people feel self-conscious about talking so much.
In these two cases it’s good to give a piece of personal information for every one they reveal to get a flow going.
9) Give A Gift
Reciprocation is deeply wired into human nature. When you offer people something, they will naturally feel the need to help you in return.
Doesn’t have to be a big box with a bow on it. Offering someone anything, tangible or not, counts.
10) Managing Your Own Expectations
If you don’t manage your expectations properly it can lead to disappointment, resentment and anger.
Play it cool. Focus on the other person’s needs and don’t let your expectations rise.
A number of the ten methods are similar to those espoused by other FBI specialists I have interviewed, including former head of international hostage negotiation, Chris Voss, and FBI profiler Jim Clemente.
The Right Attitude
And what does Robin say is the best attitude to take when trying to build rapport? Make sure the other person walks away better for having met you.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.