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How to Build Rapport

Rapport. Being ‘in sync.” In the same groove. Of the same mind.

That’s the way you want the girl to be. Right?

But your acting like one of the girls won’t get it. Though girls *say* they like “good guys,” what happens if you generate the “good guy” image is that you become a girlfriend of hers. Next thing you know she’ll be telling you about her romantic adventures, and expecting you to comment and commiserate!

That’s not what you want!

You’ve got to be a man, a guy with a life of his own, not too caught up with her too fast (or you’ll scare her away, because it’s happened to her before). Only then is she intrigued. But along the way, how can you build rapport, so she’s feeling close to you and feeling comfortable to get closer.

Here’s how …

First, let’s look at the definition. Some of the main clues are right there:

Main Entry: rap·port
Pronunciation: ra-'po(&)r
Function: noun
1 : relation characterized by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity
2 : a relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people
3 : confidence of a subject in the operator (as in hypnotism or psychotherapy) with willingness to cooperate

Definition #3 really sounds promising, right?

Definition #2 is what you’re trying to accomplish.

Definition #1 gives the clues on how to do it.


Definition #1 is saying that “harmony (occurs with) conformity, accord, and affinity.”

Conformity: You cannot be “one of the girls,” but if your views *conform* to her own, she will find you to be a kindred spirit. And she will like that.

A caution: If she says nothing unique, do *not* jump in there saying how swell she is for that. Because it’s nothing personal to her. For example, if she says she was “driving around,” you don’t say how groovy that is, because she won’t feel specially connected to you about something that everyone does. That’s not “special.”

But if she says that she went to the bead store because she’s making a beaded bracelet, this is something unique. Most people don’t go to the bead store, but she (uniquely) does. So here’s where you jump in with a compatible view. You could, if it’s anywhere true, say that you’re crazy about making beaded bracelets.

However, if that’s a stretch, then you could try:

  1. “I remember making beaded things at summer camp. Frankly, I liked it. Is it still fun? What do you find most satisfying about it?” … OR …
  2. “I had a friend who ran a bead store. He was just crazy about all the subtle colors, but I liked the bright-colored ones the best. And there’s thousands of them! How in the world do you go about choosing?” … OR …
  3. “There’s something satisfying about (working with your hands / making jewelry / working on small objects). That’s one of the things I liked in the crafts classes I took. How did you go about learning to do it?”

Each of these focuses in something unique (that the two of you share), and reveals to her that you (or your views) *conform* to her and her views. Your ideas are similar. The two of you are different from all the others, but the two of you are alike to each other. You have things in common.

So the formula is: (a) watch for her to reveal something unique. If you’re asking open ended questions, her answers will uncover some unique things pretty quickly. And then, you (b) reveal your view (or your past or your interest) that *conforms* to her uniqueness.

The result: She will feel more affinity for you. It will increase, a little, immediately.

You will usually see this by her having increased animation, becoming more lively, paying more attention to you, a change in her body position, looking more directly at, or turning her body more toward you, and perhaps an increase in her speech rate or an increase in the pitch of her voice.

Accord: This is simple. You agree with things.

You don’t agree with all of them, especially not with things that control the two of you. If you’ve made reservations at Fancy Armando’s Italian Restaurant, and she expresses a yen for Japanese food tonight, generally you don’t switch. You go to Fancy Armando’s tonight, and then (kind of as a surprise) you take her to Samurai Saki-House next week.

But if she hates the President … surprise! So do you!

If you cannot hate the President, then find *something* about him. For example, you could say, “Well, I’ve got to say … Have you ever seen a more phony haircut? I mean, really! Is it a wig? Do you know? Who does his damn makeup?”

And then steer the subject toward something about which you can more easily agree with her. And that becomes another general rule. Steer the conversation *toward* things (especially unique things) where you can agree, and steer the conversation *away* from things likely to raise discordant views.

Affinity: This word originally meant “related by marriage,” meaning that two people were in the same family, and thus the two of them are similar. However, it has come to mean attracted to each other.

And these two qualities are intimately related.

If you are *like* somebody else, then you will tend to *like* them.

That’s the rule, and the biggest clue of all right there. It’s worth repeating.

If you are *like* somebody else, then you will tend to *like* them.

And let’s turn it around so it applies to her and you.

If she and you are *alike*, then she will tend to *like* you.


Like a good hypnotist, you can “induce” an alikeness between the two of you, and the result is that your subject will tend to trust you, to feel comfortable with you, and to like you.

The easy and powerful way to induce an alikeness between yourself and someone else is by using the technique called “Mirroring.”


Physical mirroring is where you make your body like the mirror-image of their body. For example, you will stand like they stand, and you’ll use gestures like the gestures they use, and you’ll walk at the same speed that they walk, and so on. If they sit back in the chair and slump, then you sit back in the chair and slump. If they sit on the edge of the chair and learn forward, so do you. If they shake their hands in the air while talking, so do you.

Now your first reaction to my suggestion might be to think it absurd, or that she will notice and think you are making fun of her.

Well, of course if you overdo it, I suppose that’s possible, but if you’re just echoing what she does, within the boundaries of who you are, I promise you she will never, ever notice it at all. But she will discover that, unaccountably, she likes you.

I’m reminded of John Wayne in his role of a tough old cowboy named Rooster Cogburn in the movie True Grit, which is really about a young girl who had a lot of what they called “grit,” meaning spunk, stick-to-it spirit, and willingness to make the attempt. And in this particular scene, Rooster Cogburn is watching something brave that the young girl has done, and he says, “By golly, I like that girl! She reminds me of me!”

And that’s true.


Everybody has certain patterns in their speech. These patterns are remarkably consistent, and they are blindingly obvious, when you’re listening for them.

For example, some people speak with a lot of emphasis, and others in a monotone.

Some speak loudly and others speak softly.

Some speak rapidly and others speak slowly.

Some speak in bursts with pauses in between, and others speak more smoothly.

For starters, consider “speech rate.” The obvious example is that Northerners, like from New York City, talk fast. And Southerners, like from Atlanta Georgia, speak slowly.

Now if I’m talking to a Southern Peach, and I talk real fast as if I were from New York City, then the Southerner will feel “out of sync” with me, and she will not trust me much. She’ll describe me as “one of those fast-talking slick guys,” and she’ll think my fast talking is an attempt to trick her.

But if I talk real slow, she will better understand what I say, and she will tend to trust me. I sound like what she knows and understands.

On the other hand, perhaps I’ve met an Italian Gypsy woman from Greenwich Village, and she’s talking at a hundred miles an hour and she hardly takes time to breath. Then if I talk real slow she’ll be annoyed with me, she’ll think I’m a hick, a hayseed, a dummy, a country bumpkin, and she’ll be impatient with everything about me.

So with her, I’ll talk as fast as I can, and I’ll flail my arms around just like she does. What will she see? What will she hear? She’ll see a kindred spirit, someone with energy like her own; she’ll hear someone she understands, someone she feels connected to.

She’ll feel affinity.

And like two molecules with a chemical affinity, she’ll want us to join up.

Oxidation! Reduction! Yow!


Make it your standard practice to mirror speech rate with anybody from whom you wish agreement. Women, college professors, the boss.

After you’ve made it an automatic practice to adjust your speech rate to theirs, then also take a look at the other patterns in speech: emphasis vs monotone, louder versus softer, bursts with pauses versus smoothly. They’ll work the same way.

And you can build more rapport with anyone you meet.

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