One of the most important things people care about, is whether you take an interest in them, whether you are warm and interested in who they are. That’s far more important than being competent. We often think when we’re communicating with someone we need to be knowledgeable, to have an expertise in their particular industry, but in fact, though knowledge will be beneficial to you, being interested and asking questions can be far more evocative.
I was recently at an event where I was being introduced to a potential new client for our business. I knew a little about their industry, but I was far from having an expertise and I wondered how I was going to engage them in conversation and build a rapport. I decided to put into practice what we teach in our one-to-one and workshops in communication and rapport Building. To actively take an interest through asking questions to the other person/persons, (and yes, even if you’re not that interested)..This means taking the attention away from yourself and focussing on the other and being curious. This technique relieves you of any pressure, because whatever negative thoughts might be running through your mind, by putting your focus away from yourself and onto your listener you’re channelling your fears and being assertive. I then used an acting technique adapted from theatre practitioner, Constantin Stanislavsky of asking questions. Who, (for example, who are you collaborating with?) Where (where will you be working?) What, (what is your project about?) When, (when will it be completed?) Why, (why are you delivering this project now?) How, (how does it feel to be running this?) I questioned my potential new client about various subjects, some were related to work, others were about her raising money for charity by completing an extraordinary sporting achievement. When I focussed on her staying curious and asking questions, it provoked a response in her. In return, she reciprocated, asking me questions about our business and so a rapport was easily built.
“Most of us find that communicating our thoughts to others is a highly enjoyable learning experience”. By taking an interest in someone or asking their opinion of something, they will feel heard and valued.
The next day, we set up a meeting to discuss working for her company. A rapport was built!
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