Meeting new people can be awkward. What should you say? How can you make a good impression? How do you keep a conversation going?
Research shows relationships are vital to happiness and networking is the key to getting jobs and building a fulfilling career.
But what’s the best way to build rapport and create trust? Plain and simple, who can explain how to get people to like you?
Robin Dreeke can.
Robin was head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program and has studied interpersonal relations for over 27 years. He’s an expert on how to make people like you.
I gave him a call to get some answers. (Note that Robin is not speaking for the FBI here, these are his expert insights.)
You’re going to learn:
- The #1 secret to clicking with people.
- How to put strangers at ease.
- The thing you do that turns people off the most.
- How to use body language like a pro.
And a lot more. Okay, let’s learn something.
1) The Most Important Thing To Do With Anyone You Meet
Robin’s #1 piece of advice: “Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them.”
Ask questions. Listen. But don’t judge. Nobody — including you — likes to feel judged.
You’re not judging, you’re showing interest. And that lets people calmly continue talking about their favorite subject: themselves.
Studies show people get more pleasure from talking about themselves than they do from food or money.
So you’ve stopped being Judgy Judgerson and you’re happily validating. Oh, if it were only that easy… What’s the problem here? Your ego.
2) Suspend Your Ego To Get People To Like You
Most of us are just dying to point out how other people are wrong. (Comment sections on the internet are fueled by this, aren’t they?)
And it kills rapport. Want to correct someone? Want to one-up them with your clever little story? Don’t do it.
Contradicting people doesn’t build relationships. Dale Carnegie said it many years ago — and modern neuroscience agrees.
When people hear things that contradict their beliefs, the logical part of their mind shuts down and their brain prepares to fight.
So you’ve stopped trying to be clever. But how do you get a reputation as a great listener?
3) How To Be A Good Listener
We’ve all heard that listening skills are vital but nobody explains the right way to do it. What’s the secret?
Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and focus on what they’re saying right now.
Be curious and ask to hear more about what interests you.
Research shows just asking people to tell you more makes you more likable and gets them to want to help you.
The basics of active listening are pretty straightforward:
- Listen to what they say. Don’t interrupt, disagree or “evaluate.”
- Nod your head, and make brief acknowledging comments like “yes” and “uh-huh.”
- Without being awkward, repeat back the gist of what they just said, from their frame of reference.
- Inquire. Ask questions that show you’ve been paying attention and that move the discussion forward.
(To learn the listening techniques of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)
I know, I know — some people are just boring. You’re not that interested in what they’re saying. So what questions do you ask then, smart guy?
4) The Best Question To Ask People
Life can be tough for everyone: rich or poor, old or young. Everyone.
We all face challenges and we like to talk about them. So that’s what to ask about.
Questions are incredibly powerful. What’s one of the most potent ways to influence someone? Merely asking for advice.
Twisting your mustache thinking you can use this for nefarious purposes? Wrong, Snidely Whiplash. It only works when you’re sincere.
But what if you have to approach someone cold? How do you get people who might not want to talk to you to willingly give you their attention?
5) How To Make Strangers Feel At Ease
First thing: tell them you only have a minute because you’re headed out the door.
Research shows just asking people if now is a good time makes them more likely to comply with request.
Nobody wants to feel trapped talking to some weirdo. People are more likely to help you than you think, but they need to feel safe and in control.
Even if you get all of the above right you can still come off like a shady used car salesman. And that fear stops you from meeting new awesome people.
Robin says one of the key reasons people come off as untrustworthy is because their words and their body language are misaligned. Let’s fix that.
6) The Best Body Language For Building Rapport
Your words should be positive, free of ego and judgment — and your body language (“non-verbals”) needs to match.
Here are the things Robin recommends:
- “The number one thing is you’ve gotta smile. You absolutely have to smile. A smile is a great way to engender trust.”
- “Keep that chin angle down so it doesn’t appear like you’re looking down your nose at anyone. And if you can show a little bit of a head tilt, that’s always wonderful.”
- “You don’t want to give a full frontal, full body display. That could be very offensive to someone. Give a little bit of an angle.”
- “Keep your palms up as you’re talking, as opposed to palms down. That says, “I’m hearing what you’re saying. I’m open to what your ideas are.”
- “So I always want to make sure that I’m showing good, open, comfortable non-verbals. I just try to use high eyebrow elevations. Basically, anything going up and elevating is very open and comforting. Anything that is compressing: lip compression, eyebrow compression, where you’re squishing down, that’s conveying stress.