Written by Shawn McQueen, Two-Brain Coaching Mentor
Have you ever sat and talked with a client and asked them some questions, only to have the conversation die off? I sure have! Along the way, I’ve become a much more effective communicator and I’d like to share some basic strategies you can use – hopefully it’ll save you a bit of embarrassment (at least) and make you a more effective coach (at best).
When you’re communicating, questions are a tool used to dig – to find that thing that will create rapport. That thing you’re trying to find is something in common. In our First Degree Course, we call this a point of commonality.
I’ll give you some insight – chances are that if you had a conversation die off, it probably wasn’t due to your line of questioning. There are an array of subtleties that happen in conversation that can derail it or make it fruitful for all. It boils down to what is going with our senses as this is the type of rapport built in the subconscious.
Mirroring is when you match your tone, energy, presence, and body language to that of the person you are speaking with. Why? Simple – because we all like people who are like us. It helps maintain the story that ‘people like us do things like this.’ (Hat tip: Seth Godin)
Let’s play out what this looks like in practice –
What could your mirror in a person’s voice?
– Tonality (immediate connection)
– Speed (fast talkers, slow talkers)
– Volume (loud talking people love loud talking people, quiet talking people gravitate toward more quiet talkers)
– Specific word selection (“I am looking for a magnificent home!” vs “ I have a nice home for you too look at” ← not ideal. Match the specific words they use.)
What could you mirror in the person’s body?
(you’ll get more rapport in matching body than words initially)
– Posture (relaxed vs upright)
– Facial expression (Smile back!)
– Gestures (arms folded vs not)
– Leg positions (legs crossed vs straight)
– Eye contact (most people in business have been taught not to break eye contact. Remember, people like people like whom? Themselves. Who stares into your eyes without breaking? Aliens, that’s who.)
– Touch (remember to maintain professionalism here!)
– Proximity (use your sensory acuity to determine their comfortable space, everyone is different)
You don’t have to mirror everything. You could establish great rapport by leg position and gesture. Or just do voice (tonality). Or even eye contact and a gesture.
Do you think people are going to notice? They won’t, trust me.
Most people will wait until we have enough words in common and then put our voice and bodies in common. But if you put your body in common first, you won’t have trouble establishing rapport with anyone you meet.
In the follow-up post, we will talk about how to tap into the nervous system and the body’s 5 senses in pursuit of more effective communication between coach and client!