For some, connecting with strangers is easy. We all know people who can meet a new person and seem like their best friend within a moment.
We also all know the opposite person. You know, the person who always says the wrong thing and puts off new people to the point where conversations end quickly.
You may even be one of those people.
Not enough people stop and ask what the difference is between these groups of people. What’s the difference? The skill of building rapport. In my last post I discussed how to build rapport using the VAK modalities – but the ideas I’m going to discuss here are even more simple and still incredibly high impact: Matching and mirroring.
At some point in your life you may have heard the concept of being a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. We all have a preference for how we process the information the world is giving us. Some people learn by watching or looking, some people by listening, and others by feeling or doing.
This is good to know about yourself and if you’re a teacher it’s good to be familiar with this from an educational perspective, but for EVERYONE there is a much bigger picture here if you are willing to go just one level deeper.
My wife and I often talk about how we read books. Not just that we read books, but how we process the books we are reading. She was astonished by the fact that I’m not constantly creating mental pictures of every scene in every book. I try to explain to her that I process the information auditorily like someone is reading the information and I am remembering what was said or what is happening. There are exceptions to this – sometimes a book is so gripping or vivid that my mind will make pictures that will enhance my experience. Knowing this it makes sense that we often read different types of books – I like to read books on personal development, philosophy, and theology while she loves to get immersed in dystopian sci-fi novels. And when you think about our reading differences, that makes perfect sense.
It’s almost every day that I’m trying to help people appreciate, even thank, the pain they experience.
I know it sounds odd, but pain really does exist to serve us. In the most primal sense, pain is a gift to tell us to move away from damage – a mechanism built in to protect us from the dangerous world. Think about it, without pain you’d leave your hand on a hot stove and a minor, irritating burn could turn into serious third degree burns that leave your hand non-functioning. The pain protects you.
In the bigger picture, pain and discomfort are stage 1 for your transformation.
Think about a time you went to grab your favorite pair of pants. You take them off the hanger or out of the drawer and you go to put them on. Only this time, they’re not sliding on quite as easy. You jam yourself in there and go to button them up, only realizing the button no longer buttons. Or if it does, it digs deep into your skin and squeezes the inside of your body.
This is a disturbing moment for most people. It can be painful and depressing. Remember, those feelings are there for a reason. They are a call to action to start acting on your goals right away – to make a change.
When it comes to communication and building rapport, everyone does it a little differently. There are several ways we are innately different in communication – do you communicate better standing side by side or face to face? Do you like to talk during an activity like golf or racquetball, or do you prefer to sit down face to face with no distractions of movement?
Part of my work is helping people become better at communicating. I want my clients to match and thrive in any social setting, so that effective communication is never a barrier to their goals.
Another part of my job is helping business leaders make sure that their workplaces accommodate various personality types, so they can make every employee thrive in a comfortable environment while concurrently developing their people’s communication skills to make the workplace more cohesive in the bigger picture.
In the Western business world, being late is a grave sin. It can lose you jobs, lose you clients, and generally tank your career and even your personal relationships.
This perspective that dominates the Western world has many benefits. It makes the trains run on time. It’s respectful to whoever your next meeting is with. It makes coordinating schedules relatively easy. It’s great for people who live in worlds with deadlines.
People who love planners, organization, and order generally thrive in our culture - especially in business.
Some people take this so seriously, that people will fire people, not hire people, and destroy relationships with people over tardiness or missed meetings.
What’s interesting is that while we here in America think that’s just the way things are, there are cultures and individuals around the world that view time differently. Here, we might consider those people lazy or call them loafers, but we should just recognize it for what it is: a difference in how we experience the world.
For those that don’t watch sports, Adam Vinatieri is a 46 year old kicker in the NFL who is widely regarded as the greatest kicker to ever play the game. Much to my town of Indianapolis’ chagrin, the last two games he has missed a career worst number of kicks. Out of 8 kicks, most of them being routine kicks, he has only made 3. That would be bad for a struggling high school kicker, let alone the best to ever play the game.
Most people think that Vinatieri hit some age wall where he suddenly can’t make a routine chip shot - as if his leg deteriorated to the point of being inaccurate from short distances overnight. As such, many think it’s time for him to retire.
In reality, if you go grab Vinatieri when he is 60, I bet he’ll be able to kick 10 extra points in a row without the kind of problems he is having now. It’s not his age. It’s just a typical slump. Slumps happen to everyone, but when you are a baseball player or a kicker in the NFL, your slumps are obvious, measurable and compounding.
The real question is - why do slumps happen and how on Earth do we make them stop?
It’s no secret that who you spend time with determines who you are. Your friends, family, coworkers - every second you spend with them you are being shaped. Hopefully someone’s told you this and it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that if you are spending your time with optimistic, happy, winners - that you are more inclined to be optimistic, happy, and find ways to “win” (however you define winning).
If you want to be happier, you should extend this to the media you consume, as much as you do the people with which you associate. In the era of podcasts, 24 hour news/entertainment, and social media, you are constantly telling your brain what to look for.
The memories that impact you the most are memories that you can step into all over again. When you think about them, it's like you're reliving the experience and not simply watching it from afar.
This is called an associated memory.
If you've never taken control of your mind, your default setting is to make your traumatic memories associated ones. Your brain is designed for survival so it wants you to really live with the things that hurt you. This is ideal for running from lions or wooly mammoths, but not necessarily optimal for giving a great PowerPoint presentation at work or connecting with your spouse.
The best moments of your life, you will remember from a distance, like you're watching a movie instead of living it. Almost like it is a pleasant thing that is happening to someone else.
I can't say enough how powerful a tool it is to change this pattern - disassociate from your traumatic memories and associate your happiest moments.
I challenge you today to go back to a great memory - could be your wedding, a moment where you were flowing at work and commanding the room, or even an incredible sexual experience - and see it all again from your own first person perspective.
This will put you in touch with the most positive states you've experienced and change how you experience the rest of your day and ultimately will help you tap into the best version of yourself.
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: