One of the most popular self-help books ever written is called “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie, and, frankly, it’s no wonder: Who doesn’t want to will others into doing what one wants, whether through one’s presence, words or sheer charisma?
Well, life coach Niurka — yes, just Niurka, like Madonna or Cher before her — says the key to such persuasiveness, and to one’s empowerment, is communication, and there’s one very important component to that: rapport.
“Rapport is essential in all negotiations, because when there's rapport the decision-maker will want to work with you, even if you're not saying the perfect thing,” says Niurka, whose new book is “Supreme Influence: Change Your Life with the Power of the Language You Use.” But creating rapport is a subtle art: you can’t exactly fake affinity, or chemistry. We asked the guru for her advice on establishing that kind of connection with your boss, coworker or superior.
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The first step to establishing rapport is awareness: after all, you have to be self-aware enough to know when you aren’t establishing a rapport with someone, or when you lose it. “Oftentimes people communicate too soon,” she says. “They’re so in tune with what they want to say rather than being totally present with the person and the situation.” Notice your target’s body language, her breathing, her mood, and try to play off that.
Care about the bigger picture
When talking to a boss or supervisor, don’t make it about you, you, you. “You have to authentically care about the bigger picture, not just your agenda,” advises Niurka. “Before you go in ask yourself not just ‘What do I want’ or ‘How can I get what I want in this conversation,’ but ‘What’s important to this person, to this company as a whole’ or ‘How can I show up in away that supports them so they know that I’m the best person for this job or task?’”
One important — and easy — way to establish rapport and show that you genuinely care about the other person’s needs and concerns is to ask questions. “Say: ‘I’m curious about what’s working, or what isn’t working,’ in terms of a particular context — or, ‘If you can change one thing in this department what would it be?’” suggests Niurka. “You want someone to get passionate and then connect on that point of passion: you don’t want to be the one who’s passionate and trying to sell them on it. You want them to have a buy-in.”
ONE MORE THING
"When you’re going to an important meeting — whether it’s one-on-one with your boss or giving a big presentation to a group of people — be clear on your intention, without attachment to outcome,” says Niurka. “You don’t want to get tunnel vision, so you’ve got to be clear what is the essence of what it is that you’re inspired to create or achieve and then be open to all the different ways you can make that a reality."