How to Build Rapport

Terry Schott
December 20, 2010 — 1,249 views  
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There comes a point in time when you are no longer a child and you are now allowed, even required, to talk to strangers.

Fear of strangers is a deeply ingrained source of stress in the average person's life. I think a big part of that comes from being protected from harm in our formative years as children... and we're lucky that our parent's were able to instill this caution early in our lives so that we would be safe.

But we're grown up now.

The same thing that was good for us early on in our life is now harmful to us as we get older.

There are many examples of this... ever seen the teeth of a child who has drunk from a bottle too long? Or sucked their thumb longer than they should?

Being comfortable talking to strangers, and actually being good at it, is a valuable skill that many people wish they had. There are many benefits to being able to do this, both from a personal, and a professional standpoint (regardless of your profession).

So how do you do it? You've spent so many years being afraid of strangers, yet now it's suddenly ok to talk to them? Some of you might even get a job that requires you to talk to strangers every day.

People react to this new "Freedom" often in one of two ways. Negatively or positively. There are many degrees to each reaction, but the essence of the reaction is either positive or negative.

Comfort in talking to strangers is similar to a thermometer.
Hot - People who are willing to talk to strangers move into the warm scale.
Cold - People who resist talking to strangers are stuck in the cold area of the thermometer.
Whether you are currently in the hot or the cold scale, don't despair.

Everyone who wants to improve in this area can do so easily... And I'm about to show you how.
Ready to learn the secret?

In order to feel totally comfortable talking to strangers... PRETEND that you already know them!
Simple, unremarkable. This is just common sense, right?
Yes, it is. If you already use this strategy then you have no problem talking to strangers and you don't need any help.

BUT - If you ever find yourself getting nervous at the idea of walking up to someone you don't know and starting a conversation with them... Then you can benefit from this way of thinking.

The key word is... Pretend.

Do this:

As I approach a stranger I quickly tell myself a story which helps me to pretend. It goes something like this;
"Hey that person looks really familiar. I must know them from somewhere, but just can't remember where. I better ask a few questions about them in an attempt to refresh my memory. If those questions don't remind me of whom they are, then that's ok. I can still have a good conversation with them."
Dale Carnegie wrote very clearly in his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" that in order to be interesting to other people... You must be genuinely interested in other people.

This works so well! Be genuinely interested in the person you are talking to and they will become comfortable with you and find you to be an interesting person. The best way to do this is to ask them questions about themselves. Good questions (yes there is such a thing as a stupid question). Ask them because you are interested in the answer, not because you want to fool them into thinking you care.

People can sense it when you are not genuine. If you can't care about someone enough to be genuine..... Then please don't even try this strategy. Read Dale Carnegies' book first.

A couple of Do Not's
1. Do Not actually tell the person you think you know them from somewhere. That's a fake pick up line and it never works.
2. When the other person actually shares a bit of info about themselves.... Do Not nod your head and mumble, "Oh yeah, that's right." You are a stranger, after all and this will tend to creep them out, negating any goodwill you have built up to this point.
3. In General Do Not do anything that would upset or annoy you if a stranger came up to you and started talking.

This will seem awkward at first. But like anything that you practice, over time you'll get good at it and it will become more comfortable to implement.

Some signs that you are getting good at meeting and talking to strangers.

- You will feel more relaxed as you improve.
- The stranger will move from unsure and guarded to comfortable more quickly as you improve
- People will actually begin to ask you, "Wow you look familiar. Have we met before?" it's ok if they ask you this... But never ok for you to ask them.
- The very thought of walking up to a stranger and talking to them will no longer make you feel that panic. Instead you will consider it "No big deal" to do this.

Simple and effective. It's excellent customer service.

It will help you conquer your fear of speaking to strangers... No matter how small or big a fear that happens to be.

Does it work? Yes it sure does.

When you get really good at doing this, you will no longer see any strangers... Just acquaintances you want to get to know even better.

For 24 years Terry has consciously honed his skills in the fields of relationship sales and customer service. This led him to Sales Team Management, and soon to a level of excellence in Sales Team Leadership, Motivation, and ultimately to achieve national success and recognition. It also led to a profound realization. He had achieved much, but he had also taught, trained, coached and motivated many others to reach their own level of excellence. In doing so, he helped companies to attain higher levels of sales and service, and a measurable increase in market share.

Now as an entrepreneurial business manager, developer and trainer, Terry assists corporate and individual clients to reach the pinnacle in sales and service. From mentoring programs and plans aimed at improving sales and increasing profits, to boosting employee effectiveness and escalating the quality of customer service, he is able to help bring companies and individuals to the peak of success.

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Terry Schott