What do you do to help someone you’ve just met to feel comfortable with you right away?
Would you say, “Ask about the other person”? “Smile”? “Talk about common interests”? “Make eye contact”?
Dr. Genie LaBorde, author of Influencing with Integrity, says that, while good, those aren’t the most powerful things you can do to help another person feel comfortable with you. Dr. LaBorde’s research says that three of the most powerful things you can do to help people feel comfortable with you immediately are:
- Talk exactly as loudly as they talk—no louder or softer.
- Talk at the same speed they speak—no faster or slower.
- Have a similar physical body posture—that is, a similar degree of alertness or relaxation in your body position.
Notice that this research shows that other people like the same things they are doing! So, you simply make adjustments and do what they are doing in these three important areas.
Note that this does not tell you to match others’ accents. That’s offensive to many people. And it does not tell you to match depressed or angry attitudes. Quite the opposite.
My experience has been that if you can be positive, upbeat, and encouraging, as well as knowledgeable about what you have to offer and willing to listen to another person’s situation — that is, thinking not in terms of closing a deal but of helping this person, you have a successful approach.
So suppose your prospect says, in a very soft voice, “I’m Fred. I don’t think we’re really looking for anything like this…” You’d respond (just as softly), “Well, hi, Fred. So you’re not looking for anything like (whatever)?” If it’s not obvious what you have to sell, you might try, “Well, hi, Fred. You’re not looking for … what, may I ask?”
Remember, you’re matching the loudness and the speed of Fred’s speech—which you can do easily on the phone, too and, if you’re physically present with him, you’re adopting a similar body posture.