By Ryan Fleming, Director – Habitational Group
Now I’m not here to beat anyone over the head with the Bible, but there is a verse that is stuck in the foundation of who I am. I’ve found it to be the answer to almost all things “rapport:”
I have become all things to all men [people], that I might by all means save some. —I Corinthians 9:22 (NKJV)
What this verse is basically saying is that in order to properly cultivate relationships, you need to meet people where they are as opposed as to where you want them to be. Let’s let that sink in. This applies to all relationships including with a spouse, child, employee, employer, prospect and client.
Every one of us has an agenda or to-do list at any given time. That agenda or to-do list may include certain things that need to be accomplished at certain times in order for us to reach whatever goal we have set for ourselves. That being said, too many times we focus intently on the individual items and try to force them to fit into the timeline in front of us. We end up forging through our lists, trying to push the people around us to provide what it is that we need from them in order to complete the task at hand. We find frustration when they don’t react with the level of importance we believe they should be reacting with. We get impatient when they don’t respond to us in a timely manner, and, most importantly, if they don’t agree with the point of view or belief that we are presenting them with (read: trying to shove down their throats).
This is where a change in perspective can be revolutionary. Understand that people have things they need to accomplish and a timeline in which to accomplish them. Our own to-do list doesn’t necessarily fall into their timeline, especially if we approach them with our own agenda in mind. It’s like trying to jump onto a moving train while walking alongside the tracks. The same disconnect happens if you try to jump off. If you don’t understand the pace of the person you are trying to communicate with, it can be a constant struggle trying to slow them down while you are trying to speed up, or vice versa.
“Being all things to all people” basically means that in order to be a successful communicator, one must meet people in their “state,” that is, where they are in their day, week and life. Find out what state you need to be in to meet them. Do you need to approach them in a relaxed, worry-free state or do you need to hit them with energy and excitement? Meeting people in their state builds instant rapport and allows communication to flow. If you are able to match their pace, needs can be met and you both may be able to accomplish your collective goals. The technique is called “pacing.” I could go on for days about the intricacies involved, but I will save that for another day.
I find myself sounding like a broken record whenever I tell my kids, “Other people’s feelings first!” It’s to the point where all I say is “Other…” and they finish the sentence for me. Now, I’m not telling them that their own feelings don’t matter or that they need to be the best doormats they can be as they grow up. I’m simply trying to explain to them that if they consider other people’s feelings before they act, they are more likely to get where they need to go.
It seems like something we’ve all heard before, but how many of us are actually practicing it with each interaction? How many of us are actually looking to find out what state others are in before we hit them with what we need from them? Taking just a few moments to meet people where they are and match their pace is truly the key to building rapport. Now to take it one step further, imagine how effective this becomes when you make your actual goal meeting people where they are.