Yesterday, during a mindful sales workshop I ran for entrepreneurs, I explained the importance and how to build rapport with clients. I asked, “have you ever been in a situation where you’re standing in a room, or in a queue, where someone yawns, and then….”
Before I finished my sentence the people I spoke to, yawned. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I was boring 😉 How many times has that happened to you, where someone yawning triggers your yawn?
Let me quickly explain the science behind why this happens so you know how to instantly build rapport with clients. Because the faster you build rapport with people, the sooner you can explore how you can add real value to them and ultimately win more sales.
Insights from scientists
Discovered in the mid 90s by Italian neuroscientists studying monkey’s brains. They planted electrodes to monitor brain activity, and discovered when monkeys watched one of the researchers eat a peanut, the same neuron fired in the monkey’s brain.
Science of rapport building
There’s a part in our called mirror neurons and they are the roots of empathy. According to, Daniel Siegel, professor of psychiatry, in his book Mindsight, it only works when there’s a “predictable sequence or sense of purpose”. He goes on to say,
“If I simply lift up my hand and wave it randomly, your mirror neurons will not respond. But if I carry out any act you can predict from experience, your mirror neurons will “work out” what I intend to do before you do it. So when I lift my hand with a cup in it, you can predict at a synaptic level that I intend to drink from the cup”.
“The mirror neurons in the premotor area of your frontal cortex will get you ready to drink as well.”
This is why we yawn when others yawn, get thirsty when others do, or smile when others do. Scientists call this emotional contagion, where there’s a transfer or moods amongst a group of people
The science behind the contagious behaviour
There’s a circuit in the brain called insula which is like the broadband between the limbic area (part of the brain controlling our emotions) and the brainstem (part connected to spinal cord) and the rest of the body. Siegel calls these the “resonance circuits, the pathway that connects us to one another”.
According to neuroscientists, we are hardwired from birth to detect sequences and make maps in our brains to mirror others. The internal states of other can affect our own state of mind. Have you ever been around depressed or negative people and felt down after? A few years back I once had coffee with someone who did nothing but moan and complain the whole time. When I went home I felt depressed and stayed in bed all afternoon. I never do that! I mirrored her emotional state.
How this helps you instantly build rapport with clients
Be you. Be authentic. Be unapologetically, brilliant, you. That means dropping any corporate shield or trying to be robotically professional. Who are you when you’re with friends compared to with your prospective customers? Be honest, do you put on a slight act? If you do, drop it.
If you act professional, the people you meet will have their professional act on, too. When you’re authentically you, the people you meet will mirror you and be authentically themselves. When they’re authentically themselves, like the person you’d meet in the pub on a Friday (not the slurring words, kind), but the real them, that’s when you’ve built rapport.
I’ve done this countless times, as if by magic, people I’ve never met before transform into the real them. It even works on the phone. Only last week I was on the phone to someone I hadn’t spoken to before, talking like I would to a friend. The other person answers and I can tell they’re being robotically professional. After a minute, their accent drops, tone changes, and I can hear the real them.
From a place of authenticity you can understand their real challenges and objectives, you can identify where and how you can add value, and therefore be of real value to them.
Our ability to be aware of other’s states starts with being aware of your own state. If you’re unaware of your own state, you’ll end up automatically mirroring others – like I did that time I fell into a depression in the afternoon. I was rushing and in my head, that day.
For this to work, it starts with being self-aware, being mindful.
Today, whoever you’re going to call or meet, take a moment to be present and be yourself. No acts. Just the best you, possible. Then come back and tell me how your meeting or call went.
Also please share times you’ve been in situations where you were authentically you and how it worked to our advantage.