With isolation and remote situations becoming the new normal for many small businesses, many have had to rely on communication through video. Sometimes the only way to communicate with current and potential clients is by way of video. This can be a tricky situation where the building of rapport is critical. Former FBI agent, and skilled negotiator, Chip Massey, offers some supreme advice with regard to building rapport and finding success when all you have is video:
- Your own voice and expressions will influence the other person’s mood more than practically any other factor. Before a call starts, take a few moments to breathe deeply and collect yourself. Note any potential “mental tripwires”–subjects or statements the other person might bring up that might throw off your focus or mess with your mood. Finally, distill your main goal for the conversation–the place to which you’ll calmly return if stress starts to get the better of you.
- Massey uses a technique he calls “three magic words”: after listening to a person, he parrots back the most important three words they said–or just the last three words of their last sentence–to show them he understands and finds value in what they’re saying.
- n business conversations, Massey tries to start with small talk filled with open-ended questions. They can be about hobbies, celebrities, or (because of his own personal interests) old TV shows and comic books. It’s a way to hear the person speak about what they love and who they admire, which, by proxy, can communicate their deeply held beliefs and values.
- Phrases like “I see your point” and “That’s right” are music to a talker’s ears. Sprinkle them in and then get out of the way.
- If you sense an emotion in the other person, positive or negative, happy or stressed, say so out loud. It seems simple, but a phrase like “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed” makes people feel recognized and leads them to lower their barriers.
- If you’re conversation includes sensitive matters–you’re negotiating a contract, say, or holding an employee accountable–it’s best to create a cooling-off period. The more time you can spare, the better. If that’s not possible, then try shifting the conversation to topics that put the person at ease before returning to the contentious point. If conflict is unavoidable and immediate, simply say accommodating phrase that ceases fire and acknowledges them (“You bring up some valid points.”).
-Written by Kevin Sawyer