• Commonality is the foundation for virtually all relationships.
  • Remember to smile, tilt your head and never to look down your nose at anyone.
  • Asking for advice is one of the most potent ways to influence someone.

Neuroscience research has demonstrated that a smile gives your brain as much pleasure as 2,000 bars of chocolate or receiving $25,000. If you want to be more effective at building trust and rapport with your clients, understanding how your smile and other non-verbal body language signals influence the connection process is critical.

If you have ever studied body language, you probably know that crossed arms normally don’t bode well for a negotiation or that a raised eyebrow indicates that someone is questioning whether you are telling the truth.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) experts suggest that if we want others to feel that we are on the same page as they are, we should mirror and match their body movements. This is particularly helpful when you have a parent of a young person who is buying his or her first home. If you mirror and match the motions of your client, the parent will read you as being on the same page as their child.

The challenge with mirroring and matching is that so many people are aware of the technique, that it can ruin your connection if someone catches you using it. So what does work?

People are attracted to those who are like them

Commonality is the foundation for virtually all relationships. At a party, the golfers find the other golfers, and the foodies always congregate together.

Research conducted at MIT back in the 1950s on the “mere exposure” effect has demonstrated that students who lived closer to one another are more likely to be friends. Similarly, research from the University of Pittsburgh revealed that men attending a college class are more likely to show an affinity for women they had seen more often in class as opposed to someone they hadn’t seen that often.

Consequently, if you are trying to break into a new market area or to begin doing more business through networking or volunteering, the key is to be seen regularly.

To illustrate why this point is so important, the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Buyers and Sellers shows that 72 percent of all sellers interview only one agent.

Smile first, and be warm and welcoming

When you first meet potential clients, the most important issue for them is whether you are trustworthy. A great smile is an excellent start, especially given the fact that a smile makes them more likely to remember you. Remember to tilt your head, and never look down your nose at anyone.

Susan Fiske’s research shows that when it comes to trust, a smile is not enough, however. If you can also come across as non-competitive and friendly, people will be more likely to trust you.

By the same token, Amy Cuddy said that generating warmth first is more important than demonstrating your expertise or market knowledge.

Humor builds warmth

Humor is an important aspect of warmth. Whether it’s business, meeting new friends or looking for the right partner, having a sense of humor is imperative.

In fact, a study of 140 Chinese conducted by the University of Washington showed that morally focused people were less well-liked by their colleagues when compared to their more humorous colleagues.

Avoid judging others

Robin Dreeke, the former head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program and the author of “It’s Not All About ‘Me’: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone,” said that the most important thing to do with anyone you meet is to listen and seek his or her thoughts and opinions without judging. Asking for advice is one of the most potent ways to influence someone.

Dreeke said that when someone says something that you don’t necessarily agree with or understand, instead of judging them you should say, “Oh that’s fascinating. I never heard it in quite that way. Help me understand. How did you come up with that?”

Part of the reason that this approach is so powerful is that people derive more pleasure from talking about themselves than they do from food or money. The same is true about giving advice.

Dreeke also cautions that when someone contradicts a person’s beliefs, the logical part of the brain shuts down, and the brain prepares to fight.

A better approach regarding building trust and rapport is to ask about their challenges. Everyone has them and, as noted above, people derive great pleasure from talking about themselves.

Uncross your legs

Gerard Nierenberg and Henry Calero in their book “How to Read a Person Like a Book” described what they found by watching 2,000 videotaped transactions.

If one of the negotiators had his or her legs crossed, there wasn’t a single transaction that resulted in a settlement.

Bottom line: when you’re negotiating, uncross your legs. And if your client has their legs crossed, if possible, get him or her to stand up (perhaps to get you a drink of water).

Don’t get caught up in a self-fulfilling prophecy

What we expect to happen, will happen — at least that’s what the research behind the so-called Pygmalion effect suggests. If you like people, chances are they will like you. On the other hand, if you meet someone, and you expect that person to be a jerk, chances are they will live up to that expectation.

So smile, radiate warmth, use humor, avoid passing judgment, get others to talk about themselves, ask for their advice — and watch their trust in you grow and your business along with it.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent

Email Bernice Ross.

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