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How to Use Matching to Build Rapport with Others

When we are in harmony with others, our spoken and body language instinctively matches theirs. We use the same expressions, laugh at the same time, frown together, walk at the same pace, even breathe at the same rate. People who are close to one another can even come out with the same sentence, sound or tune as each other. If we want to build rapport with others we can do it by copying, imitating and mirroring the verbal and non-verbal language they use. As an example, notice how a policewoman instinctively crouches down to put herself at the same level as a little child who is lost. Matching puts others at their ease, helps them feel understood, and makes them like you because you are literally like them.

Body Language Matching

The following story shows how the simple steps of matching can put you on the same wavelength as others and from a position of rapport influence them to mutually beneficial solutions.

An old man was sitting in a hospital waiting room when he was observed to take out a cigarette and put it to his lips. Hurrying over to him, a nurse told him sternly that smoking was not allowed in the hospital.
The old man made no move to return the cigarette to its packet. At which another nurse went to the old man, sat beside him and quietly asked...
"You look as if you need a cigarette. Is there something wrong?"
The man explained that he had just been at the death of his wife. They had been married for over 50 years. The nurse was then able to deal with the old man in an appropriate way while at the same time ensuring he broke no hospital rules on smoking.

Phone Matching

Face-to-face exchanges are perhaps easier to match than those where you can't see the other person, such as on the phone. That’s because we can’t get full feedback and we only have the other person’s voice and words to go on.

But you can still do it. Here are 7 ways to build phone rapport.
1. open with a smile; it makes you sound welcoming
2. use natural-sounding and sincerely-felt small talk, eg about the weather where they are
3. slip in their name, though don’t overdo it or it will sound artificial and have the opposite effect
4. empathize with their needs and let them know you understand them
5. mirror their words, especially any adjectives they use to describe things
6. find something you share but don’t dwell on your experience, focus on theirs
7. reinforce the bond, but don’t overdo it, eg “I couldn’t agree with you more”; and “another reason I think you’re right is…”

Because people like you when they feel like you, they find it hard to say No to any requests you make of them.