Although building a meaningful relationship takes time (and probably some true rapport that can’t be faked), there are simple ways you can increase the odds that strangers and acquaintances like you. These techniques borrow from psychology and help create instant micro-connections that will make your daily interactions more pleasant and productive.
So much of creating rapport is about making a true connection, and the easiest way to kick-start that is by emphasizing similarity. Here’s how and why.
The Chameleon Technique
Here’s an important psychological truth: We like people who are like ourselves, down to being more likely to marry people who are similar to ourselves. You can subtly show someone how similar you are to them by using the Chameleon Technique, popularized by Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh. This technique has you mimic the physical behaviors of the person you’re trying to connect with. Copy their posture (legs crossed, leaning back, etc.) and their hand gestures (tapping on the table or fiddling with a pen). Don’t make it obvious by copying gesture-for-gesture, but adopt the general physical demeanor of the other person. They won’t consciously notice, but will like you more.
A contrasting but similar technique has to do with asserting or giving power by using complementary postures. This research, done by Lara Tiedens, shows that when one person adopts the physical postures of power like legs spread and arms wide, the other person may unconsciously adopt postures of submission, like arms crossed and slouching down.
Find common threads
Remember that psychological truth: We like people who are similar to us. That’s why a good conversational tactic is finding things in common with the other person (and why great networkers introduce two people by surfacing shared interests between them). Drawing parallels between yourself and the other person helps them more quickly categorize you in the “like me” bucket.
How do you do this? Asking questions is a good way to start.
See the good in others
People like people who like them. So, work to establish an understanding that you like the other person you’re talking to. There are lots of ways to do this: compliments, warmth in your tone and facial expressions, even explicitly saying so. One tactic I like is asking for the other person’s help with something, which gives you an opportunity to imply something you think that person is good at.
Seeing the good in others is not quite the same as showing your similarity to them, but it does show that you understand them in a positive way. And that’s really what’s at the core of similarity, forging a common understanding.