Following on from Part 1 of this Covert Persuasion series we will be looking at the various ways to build 'robust rapport' rapidly and under the radar.
How to Build Rapid and Robust Rapport For Covert Persuasion
Rapport works on the fundamental tenets of human psychology that we tend to form close bonded relationships with people that are similar to us or display signs that we are part of the same group.
In our Palaeolithic times, humans formed close-knit communities or tribes to maximize their chances of survival and improve their quality of life by harmoniously working together towards common goals.
Fast forward through our evolutionary journey till today, although the world in which we live in has changed the underlying psychology of forming relationships with people with markings of similarity remain essentially the same. That’s why whenever you meet someone from the same school, city, country etc. in a different setting, you immediately create a relationship with this person based on common grounds or markings.
Based on this fundamental principle of evolutionary psychology, in order to create rapport we have to show that we are similar to the other person. This can be achieved through various ways such as mirroring, common interests, common goals etc.
Let's focus on the concept of mirroring and match.
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Mirroring and Matching
This is by far the most subtle and powerful ways to build robust rapport rapidly.
Mirroring is the phenomena when a person subconsciously adopts the body language and mannerisms of the person they are being influenced by. From a covert persuasion point of view, it is essentially copying or imitating certain aspects of a person’s body language so that they intrinsically feel as if you are similar to them. After all who doesn’t like looking at their reflection in the mirror?
It may sound bizarre and blatantly obvious however in most cases it is usually overlooked and unnoticed by the other person. Instead, they subconsciously feel connected to you because you inherently appear similar to them. Once they feel connected to you, the person will subconsciously begin to ‘match’ your body language and you can be quite certain that rapport has been established.
The key to mirroring is to make it as natural as possible and as gradual as possible – this way you will avoid going beyond the subconscious threshold and set off alarm bells in the conscious mind. If you were to ‘try’ to imitate someone’s body language and mannerisms precisely it might seem like you are mocking them and will achieve the opposite effect of breaking rapport instantly and in many cases permanently.
Keep it natural as possible and don’t try too hard, it takes practice to be able to mirror someone effectively however once you achieve a good level of rapport through mirroring and matching you will find yourself mirroring and matching the other person automatically. Here are some areas in which you can attempt your mirroring and matching to build rapport.
- Vocal Patterns
- Gestures, &
- Facial Expressions
Your voice is more powerful than most people give credit to. The way you speak, your accent, the rhythm, pitch and intonations can all influence the way people react to you. If you were to imagine meeting someone who spoke really slow while you spoke really fast, the level of rapport would be almost non-existent due to the differences in pace. Similarly, if you met someone with the same accent as you in a foreign country, you would immediately identify with that person as one of your own and tend to stick around that person.
When attempting to mirror someone’s vocal patterns, be sure to avoid completely mimicking them. Don’t mirror a lisp or a stutter unless you have one or else that person would more likely shun you from their life than anything else. Instead, focus on more subtle aspects of vocal patterns such as pace, tone, pitch and accent, that way you won’t set off any alarm bells.
Areas of vocal mirroring:
- Rhythm& Pace
The simplest most powerful mirroring technique is to match someone’s breathing patterns. Sound strange right? When you match someone’s breathing pattern you begin to feel as if you were one person. Just like how two friends can match step for step when walking or when lovers complete each others' sentences, when your breathing becomes synchronized you begin to synchronize the subconscious – a phenomena called harmonic resonance.
To match someone’s breathing simply look at the rise and fall of their shoulders and expansion of chest and time when they inhale and exhale. It might take a few moments to adjust to their rhythm however once you synchronize with them it becomes effortless. When it becomes effortless it becomes natural and a strong foundation for rapport has been established.
The great thing about matching breathing is that it is extremely subtle. There is almost no way of the other person realizing you are consciously trying to mirror their breathing.
adopting someone’s exact posture might yet again seem blatantly obvious however most of the time it is under the radar. If you were to watch two friends having coffee they would usually adopt the exact same posture while sitting. The key is to adopt a similar posture but not exact as to go beyond the threshold of consciousness. Even if you have you have your arms in the same way they have but everything else different, you can create some level of rapport.
Areas of posture to mirror include:
- Spinal Posture: Whether they are leaning in or leaning back
- Arms: Whether their arms are open (spread out) or closed (crossed)
- Legs: Whether their legs are open (spread out) or closed (folded)
There are varying degrees to posture so just focus on these areas and see what the other person is doing.
The way we use our hands can also create rapport believe it or not. Our hands are highly interconnected to the nervous system so changes in our hands can create changes in our subconscious (Try holding a really tight clenched fist and sooner or later you will feel angry!). When we mirror similar or same gestures as the other person it can sub-communicate that we have similar communication methods and hence similar minds.
As with all mirroring techniques avoid mirroring certain obvious idiosyncrasies of people. For instance, someone who uses their hands flamboyantly to gesture whilst talking might suspect you are mocking them especially when you normally don’t use gesture when talking. Instead, you could gesture with one hand to start and slowly get the other person accustomed to your hand gestures.
The least subtle way yet still highly effective to mirror someone is to let your facial expressions match the other person. Just like how when you listen to someone’s story, most of the story is actually expressed through visual cues such as facial expressions. For example when a friend tells you a joke or an amusing anecdote you would often laugh along after they laugh if they you genuinely connected with this person (unless it was a lame joke).
The irony of mirroring is that the hardest techniques are the most subtle whilst the easiest are the least subtle. To mirror someone facially all you have to do is just genuinely listen to the person. Our brains are wired to respond to a person’s facial expressions than any other body part. Since we are taught from a young age to look at a person’s face when talking to them, mirroring someone’s expressions is almost effortless.
Mirroring and matching is essential and highly effective in creating rapid and robust rapport. The seemingly obvious but very subtle signals are very often overlooked, effectively going under the radar to sub-communicate to others that you belong to the same 'tribe'. Once you mirror someone effectively you will know that rapport has been established when they begin to match your body language. From there it's a matter of deepening rapport with other techniques (non-mirroring) and establishing trust to strengthen foundations.
In the next article we will look atfurther ways to build rapid and robust rapport (Part 3) as a foundation for covert persuasion.
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