A great conversation is like a favorite song – it flows, it’s memorable and it leaves you feeling warm inside. A person’s voice is the music, the words they use – the melody.
Certain songs stay with us, even when we don’t want them to. I was humming “It’s a Small World After All” days after leaving Disney World.
Rapport is the staff on which the music of conversation is built. Sounds affect what we think and how we feel. It’s not only WHAT you, say but how you say it.
At dinner with my husband, we couldn’t help but overhear the woman in the next booth. She was loud, and spoke in a very snippy tone. She had an edge to the questions she asked of her friends – accusatory, blaming, judgemental. There was no argument, and she wasn’t angry – at least on the surface. This is apparently how she communicates.
We would rather have had our own conversation, but it was hard to talk over her constant, loud, whiny voice. There are some people that when you overhear their conversations or just hear their voice, you think you might want to meet them or participate in their conversation. Not so with this woman. We didn’t know her and had no desire to meet her. Her tone and words created an instant feeling of dislike toward her on our part. Her inability to create rapport was evident in the tone of her voice and use of her words.
Because of her tone of voice and how she spoke to the others at her table, she came across as arrogant with a “greater/holier than Thou” attitude. Everything she said to the people at her table made them less than, wrong, not as good as.
The only questions she asked were to belittle or shame the others. “You’re not stupid enough to believe THAT, are you?” The statements she made were filled with condescension: “If you had really studied the Bible like I have, you would know what I know!” It was like listening to a singer singing a half note off key – painful.
Religion and politics as topics aside, here’s how to create rapport and likeability that this woman did NOT demonstrate:
1. Ask questions that draw others out – ask about their interests, knowledge and experiences.
2. Listen more than talk – the old adage is that we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.
3. Strive to have a voice others like to hear – record your voice then listen to it and note what you like and what needs improvement. Enlist the help of a voice or speech coach if you don’t know how to make improvements.
4. Seek others’ opinions, even if you’re an expert on the topic – you never know what others know.
5. Develop a genuine curiosity and interest in people – seek to find the commonalities.
Make others the center of conversation and they’ll see you as a great conversationalist!
What do you do to connect with others to build rapport?