The Truth About Rapport
This is a guest post by Nick Neeson, the founder of Introverted Badass.
Have you ever seen that movie… the one about the desperate nice guy trying to get the key to the heart of that cute, tenderhearted girl?
You know, the one where she’s the pretty girl, he’s the nice guy, she falls for the bad guy. Eventually, she sees her mistake and chooses the nice guy. They fall in love…, the credits roll over their marriage and they live happily-ever-after.
I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s the storyline of almost every romantic comedy movie. But there’s something else I noticed that these movies have in common.
They get it all backwards.
Yes, it’s true that women eventually get fed up with bad guys, but they almost never fall for a totally nice guy. They usually find a good guy with some kind of an edge – a nice guy that also has some bad-boy qualities.
But heck, that’s why there’s dating advice, right? To show us what works in the real world. Well, be careful, because most dating advice out there is based on misconceptions as well.
Establishing rapport and building a deep connection, for example, is one of those areas where the whole dating industry has it backwards. Just like movies have it backwards about how relationships work.
Most of what’s written about rapport is based on what we know about rapport outside of the context of dating. Rapport has been extensively studied in fields like sales, persuasion, psychotherapy, and communication. But here’s the thing: in dating-land, most rules for normal communication don’t apply.
For example, if you are nice to women the way you were taught to be nice to your friends, family, or colleagues, you will for sure get slam-dunked into the friend zone.
You can probably relate to what I just said. Too many introverted men have been there. I’ve been coaching introverted men for more than 20 years now, and over the course of that time, I’ve noticed that there are four big misconceptions about rapport. Today, I’d like to share them with you so you can avoid these deadly mistakes and skyrocket your love life.
Myth 1: There needs to be mutual liking for rapport to happen.
This is probably the most widely accepted misconception about rapport in the world. People think that you need to be likable to establish rapport. This is dead wrong.
Let me give you an example.
Have you ever seen two boxers in a ring? Guess what? They are in total rapport!
Rapport is nothing more than two people’s energies connecting.
For the more scientific minds: rapport is nothing more than two people’s nervous systems connecting.
Now, I’m not advocating that you become some raging cocky asshole that nobody likes. I’m just illustrating that rapport is much more than liking each other or being a likable person.
In dating, for example, you can actually build a connection with a woman by breaking rapport.
That’s right. You can build rapport by breaking it. Ironic, isn’t it? Teasing is a perfect example of this.
Another great example is disagreeing. Most men turn into yes-men in the presence of a beautiful woman. They change their opinions to match hers. They believe they are building rapport that way, but nothing could further from the truth.
She’ll probably think they have no spine or that they are lying to get into her pants. Either way, they lose.
The better approach is to break rapport from time to time. Now, don’t confuse this with becoming some mismatching maniac.
That doesn’t work either.
Here’s how to break rapport correctly: Voice your opinion. Be real. Be authentic.
Throughout your conversations with women, there will be topics on which you have a different viewpoint. When that happens, just tell her. That’s all there is to it. If she says she likes the movie “Titanic”, don’t be afraid to tell her it’s lame.
She’ll respect you for it. She’ll see you as an honest person and THAT builds rapport!
An added benefit: not only does it build rapport, but it also builds attraction. That’s because she’ll assume you have options with women. In general, only men who have choice with women would dare to disagree like this.
Myth 2: Rapport has to be built.
Most men think that rapport is something that has to be built.
So, they learn about rapport and they focus on building it.
The problem with that is that in many cases it comes across as something forced and artificial.
It’s much better to assume rapport is already there, and only start building it if you feel it’s not there.
Myth 3: Rapport is about technique.
If you type in ‘how to build rapport’, you get more than 12 million search results filled with techniques on how to build rapport.
When you read those techniques, you can’t help but get the feeling that it’s kind of manipulative.
For example: breathe at the same pace as the other person, mirror their body language, etc.
Here’s the problem with that. If you do this, women will feel that you are trying to manipulate them. Women (and people in general) will sense your intention.
So, what’s the solution to this? Should you not learn any techniques for building rapport?
Sure, you can learn some techniques, but here are two things you should pay attention to:
- Don’t learn all the techniques, because some are just plain weird and manipulative.
- The intention is more important than technique. (a cornerstone principle of our philosophy)
If your intention is to manipulate a woman into rapport, she’ll feel it. But if your intention is to genuinely get to know her at a deeper level, she’ll feel that too.
In the last case, rapport will be easy because she will feel that your intention is authentic.
Your goal in any interaction with women in the dating process should be to get to know them on different levels and find out if they are the kind of woman that matches your needs. In fact, that’s what dating is all about.
Of course, you can use some techniques to help you with this. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Rapport techniques are like a hammer. Sure, you can use a hammer to smash a fine set of china, but most hammers have been used to build stuff, not break it. It’s the intention with which you use something that makes it good or bad.
It’s the same with rapport. You can use rapport-building techniques with manipulative intentions or you can use them with good intentions.
But be warned: women sense your intention. So you better be authentic.
Myth 4: Rapport is about finding commonalities.
Most people think connecting with women means finding commonalities. For example: sharing the same hobby, job, favorite celebrity, zodiac sign, film, cuisine, political views, etc.
In reality, these are just surface connections. They don’t mean much in terms of really getting to know someone and connecting on a deep level.
In fact, looking for commonalities is what limits people in becoming good at rapport. It tends to make people judgmental. I mean, what if she doesn’t share the same hobbies as you? What if she has a different lifestyle than you?
I had a client who was a very successful CEO, and he wanted to meet women that were less interested in business.
He was quiet, task-oriented, and rational, and he wanted more of an emotional and nurturing kind of woman:
“I’m done with dating businesswomen. I know I’m very business-minded, but somehow I feel I want a more emotional, sensitive woman, like a nurse, a preschool teacher or a yoga instructor.”
The only problem was that he didn’t know how to connect with these women:
“What would I talk about with them? They are probably into stuff like energy and art. Not really the stuff that interests me.”
Obviously, he was looking to find commonalities, and this limited his ability to connect with the kind of women that he really wanted to date.
So instead of focusing on finding commonalities, I suggested he should focus on getting to know them better. There are three things I asked him to focus on: motivation, character traits, and emotions.
I told him that when on a date with a woman, instead of looking for commonalities, he should listen to what she says and imagine the motivations, character traits, and emotions behind her likes and dislikes.
For example, if a woman started to talk about how much she likes art, he would imagine why she likes art, how it makes her feel, and what kind of a person she might be. Then he would empathize with those feelings, motivations, and character traits and describe them to her.
Her: I like spending my free time doing artistic things. I really like to paint.
Him: Nice. I imagine you must be a very creative person (character trait). Are you only creative when it comes to painting, or are you also creative in other parts of your life?
Her: I’m definitely creative in other parts too. I’m very into cooking too, and I can make a nice meal with just some leftover ingredients in the fridge. But painting is really my passion.
Him (imagining how she would feel about painting): I can imagine it must feel great to be able to express what you feel through your painting. I mean, there are some things that just can’t be expressed in words. I think most people look at paintings and they just look at the technical side of it, but I imagine it’s more than that. It’s a way to express your feelings and give them a shape and form. It’s like putting a piece of yourself on the paper, right?
Her: Yes, that’s exactly it. Wow, I didn’t know you were so deep into this stuff. As you can see, I’m really passionate about this. Are you into art too?
As you can see, he connected with her not by looking for commonalities, but by focusing on getting to know her on a deeper level.
But her last question “Are you into art too?” brings the conversation into dangerous waters, right? I mean, he now has to say he’s not into art and that would break the connection, right?
Here’s the thing—he already connected with her by getting to know her deeper. Plus, she’s now in this state of passion. She’s talking about something she’s really passionate about. The only thing he now needs to do is to talk about something he is also passionate about. And that doesn’t have to be art.
Him: Actually, I don’t know much about art (being honest builds trust), but I can better relate to it now that I’ve talked with you about what it actually means to you. You are obviously very passionate about it. Most people come home and watch TV. It’s refreshing to meet someone with a passion. I’m actually very passionate about building something with my business. You know, I jump out of bed in the morning already on fire, thinking about how I can shape something that will have an impact on people’s lives. Just like you are passionate about art and creating something, I see my business as something artistic that I can channel my energy into and have an impact.
Her: Yes, I can totally understand that. It must feel great to know you have an impact on people’s lives. Tell me more—what are you doing with your business and what’s your dream behind it?
Do you see how he connected with her, even though on the surface they are into different things? In this case, the connection took place on four different levels.
- She revealed some of her character traits. Just doing that makes them both feel more connected to each other.
- He was honest and authentic by telling her he didn’t know much about art. This builds trust and a connection.
- He empathized with her feelings behind her hobby. People might have different surface tastes in life, but we all have the same feelings. By going deeper than the surface, you’ll realize that people are often doing things because they are looking for the same emotions than we are looking for.
- They connected really deeply on the fact that they are both PASSIONATE.
Most of what we know about rapport comes from studies in fields like therapy, communication, and sales.
Rapport hasn’t really been studied in the context of dating. Most communication norms have a backward effect during the dating process.
The best ways to deeply connect with women are to manage your intention, assume rapport is already there, and focus on finding out about her emotions, motivations, and character traits.
What are your thoughts on rapport and connecting with women? Share your feedback in the comment section below.
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