Building RapportYou won’t be able to resolve a legal matter with someone who you can’t communicate with. One way to get that started is by building rapport with the person. Though you’re on different sides of the table, there are things in common you can talk about, start to build some trust and understanding between the two of you. An article in Inc. magazine has tips on how to build rapport with another.

  1. Lose the power pose.

Don’t physically carry yourself like you’re there to impose your will on the other party. Don’t try to look or act like the most powerful person in the room. This meeting isn’t about you, it’s about getting a deal done for your client.

How do you pull this off? The article uses as an example the meeting of two world class politicians, Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

  • Clinton takes a step forward (not taking a “you must come to me” move)
  • Mandela steps forward with a smile. He’s bent slightly forward as if, ever so slightly, to bow (a sign of deference and respect)
  • Clinton does the same.

Relax, step forward, tilt your head towards them slightly, smile, and show that you’re the one who is honored by the introduction.

  1. The power of touch.

Touch can be very powerful and influence behavior, increase the chances of compliance and make you more attractive and friendly. Casually pat the other person lightly on the upper arm or shoulder. Touch breaks down natural barriers and decreases the real and perceived distance between you and the other person.

If you look at the video, you’ll see Clinton is the master at this (having done it probably thousands of times during his career). The right-hand-shakes-hands-left-hand-touches-Mandela’s-forearm-a-second-later handshake, combined with his posture and smile, comes across as genuine and sincere.

  1. Social jiu-jitsu.

Social Jiu-Jitsu is the art of getting the other person to talk about him or herself without realizing it. Use your interest, curiosity, politeness and social graces to make a connection. Make this person feel important and you’ll be liked for it. It’s not difficult (with some practice) and is key to successful small talk,

  • Give open-ended questions.
  • Leave room for description and introspection.
  • Ask how, why or who.
  • Once you get some information, ask how or why they did it, what they liked or disliked about it, what they learned or what you should do if you’re in a similar situation.

Asking the right questions implicitly shows you respect another person’s opinion and the person.

  1. Whip out something genuine.

You’re not the best person at everything. Let the other person be better than you. Be the real you because people will like the real you.

  • Don’t verbally strut your stuff.
  • Be complimentary and impressed.
  • Admit a failing or a weakness.
  • Show a little vulnerability. People may seem impressed by the artificial, but sincerely like the genuine.
  1. Doing this well takes time and practice.

These steps are simple, but can be difficult for you especially if you’re shy. The standard power pose may feel a lot safer but it won’t help you build rapport.

Being more deferential, more genuine, more complimentary and a little more vulnerable means putting yourself out there which will feel risky. But when you the other person feel a little better about themselves, they’ll like you for it.

Being likable won’t make your opponent roll over and give your client everything he or she wants. But negotiations are an exercise in communications and cooperation. A good rapport between the parties can make it that much easier.