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How to make instant connections

Building rapport is more than just small talk

Think about the last time you looked in a mirror. Maybe you were brushing your teeth, or combing your hair. Or maybe you were feeling so good you had to stop and take a peek.

Who did you see?

The answer, of course, is ‘you.’ And believe it or not, your reflection is the key to better, more meaningful relationships with people.

But what does your reflection have to do with them?


It’s called rapport, and it’s an extraordinary tool we use to consciously and unconsciously form personal connections.

Rapport is created by a feeling of commonality. When we have something in common with someone, we feel more comfortable. The more comfortable we feel, the more we enjoy ourselves. And the more we’re enjoying ourselves, the more we enjoy the company of others. Sounds like a great way to make new friends, right? That’s because it is!

Image © StockLite/shutterstock

Now, most of the time, we use our words to build rapport. We do this by asking questions, like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” But words are only 7% of how we communicate. If words were graded on how well they communicate mood and feelings, their parents would never see the report card.

Ninety-three percent of who we are, and what we respond to, is nonverbal. And because we gravitate towards those like us, or those who are what we aspire to be, a great way to create rapport is to match and mirror the people we meet.

If their energy is high, increase yours to match. If their energy is low, level yours off to show you’re of kindred mind and spirit. Talk with your hands if they do. Raise or lower your voice with theirs.

You can mirror people’s methods of touch. Match the strength or delicacy of their handshake. Reciprocate an encouraging shoulder pat and you’ll communicate more than words can.

Use your sensory acuity to determine someone’s proximity boundaries. Remember that people who invade your space may need that to create rapport for themselves. If more space is needed, accommodate that.

Breath mirroring is easy to do, and it stabilizes comfort while creating a more intimate connection in any situation.

Posture, facial expressions, tempo and tone – the list goes on and on. Nod your head in conversation if you notice your partner does so. Cross your legs with theirs. Even speak slower if they take more time with their words, or faster if they like to hold conversations in the speed lane. (Watch the full video from Tony.)

They won’t be able to tell why they like you, but they will!

People in politics employ these techniques often. Hillary Clinton’s anonymous Chipotle run revealed her preference for the burrito bowl, but it also represented an exercise in mirroring. By strolling into a chain restaurant sans security or entourage, she hoped to create rapport through mirroring the casual lunch routine of many Americans.

Many politicians use this strategy to convey closeness with voters. We make snap judgments on people based on their style first. And initially, the style of your body language and demeanor will be more influential than the substance of what you say.

Do these long enough, and eventually your counterpart will begin mirroring you. This is called pacing and leading.

We naturally mirror those we feel a connection to, but the reverse has proven just as powerful. And we can organically stimulate that meaningful connection in others by initiating the process ourselves. This turns everyday interactions into an experience that leaves people with a lasting, positive impression of you. And just as importantly, you with a lasting, positive impression of them.

The catalyst remains you. Mirrors are a way for us to enhance social interactions in our everyday lives – and they’re also a reflection of where we get the strength to do it.

Header image © Africa Studio/shutterstock

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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