Emotions are contagious. Long before we developed language to communicate, we learned to read and interpret emotions from others – to affect others and in turn, be affected by them. This is influence in its most basic form.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, tells us that emotions are attention grabbers, operating as warnings, alerts, invitations and alarms. They convey crucial information, but without words, and are ‘hyper-efficient communication tools’.
Using our emotions and awareness of others emotions as a radar, lets us attune ourselves to others and them to us. We are then able to interact more smoothly and effectively. Remember, people do business with people they like.
Being poor at reading others emotional cues, or disregarding them, inhibits our ability to create rapport, which is essential to positive relationships.
A simple but effective way of creating rapport is to greet the client warmly; make them feel special just through the greeting, handshake, eye contact and smile. This sets off positive reciprocal feelings in others, and creates the right mood for convivial and cordial conversations.
When walking into the office of a prospective client, pay attention to the clues that present themselves, and begin talking about them instead of getting straight down to business. These clues might be pictures, mementos, books, certificates, or something similar. Finding commonality is helpful in relating to each other.
Once you ask the client about them in relation to the clue, share something related about you. Make it a two way street, not an interrogation. Once they see that you are just like them, it’s easier for them to feel comfortable with you. And comfortable feelings are positive emotions.
Another tip that works for me is, when appropriate, to start off by going back out with the client to grab a coffee, and chat informally first. By the time you return to the office, you have created rapport, and are ready to get down to business.