Check out the full Building Rapport: Communication Skills to Surpass Small Talk course
This video is an excerpt from my course on building rapport, going beyond small talk for greater communication skills. If you like what you see in the video, you want to see the whole video and the rest of the course, check out the link below.
In this video, we’re gonna be talking about external training that adds to your social abilities. So that is things that aren’t necessarily social, but will make you better at building rapport with people and make you a better conversationalist.
And one of the best pieces of dating advice I ever received was “become someone that you would recommend to others”. So this isn’t just about communication skills, your ability to talk to someone is not all that’s required to build rapport. You need to become someone that’s valuable to have in a life. Now doesn’t mean that you must provide value to be a good person, and I’m not talking about this kind of achieving / impressing people thing, I’m talking about the fact that you’ve got to have a life of your own that you’ve created that’s authentic to you. And that in and of itself will be attractive to your kind of people.
So in this video, we’ll talk a little bit about those elements of your life that need to be built, as well as kind of random or arbitrary skills and practices that will add to your rapport building abilities.
Mindfulness meditation. Now the benefits of mindfulness meditation are a huge list, especially in terms of your cognitive abilities, but in relation to building rapport, you’ll remember in previous videos that I’ve talked about the importance of being able to pay attention while somebody’s speaking. Paying attention is like a muscular skill, you can get better at it, you can sustain your attention for longer periods of time. But more importantly, with mindfulness meditation, you can practice letting go of thoughts as they come up, which is the biggest distraction during a conversation. So if you’re practicing for 5 or 10 minutes every morning how to let go of thoughts as they come up, then when you’re in a conversation with somebody you’ll be better able to keep your attention on what they’re saying, lose sight of whatever it is you wanted to say, and come back to them and make them feel really heard and understood.
Reading and self education. Now, of course, there are a number of benefits that go far beyond rapport building. But if you want to naturally come up with interesting things to talk about, if you want to always have ideas with regards to what someone’s saying, always have a response to naturally come up, then you need to fill your brain with information about the world, about life, developing your own philosophy. If you’re actively learning things that you’re excited about, they will naturally come up in conversation, and you’ll show that you have an interest and a passion for life. And of course, if you’re reading lots of different viewpoints, lots of ideas, stories, and metaphors will always occur to you, as well as broadening your view on how the world works, and how different people see it, so that when you meet people from around the world, and from different cultures, you’ll already know a little bit about them.
Travel. There’s a high correlation between people who struggle to build connection and a lack of moving around the world. Now, of course, this will be limited by your budget and your options, but even exploring your own village, your own town, is available to you. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t even know their own country, they’ve seen very little of it, tourists see more of it than they do. As you travel around, especially as you expose yourself to different cultures, different ways of living, different scenery and landscapes, you broaden your vision of the world, you gain all this great insight, especially into human dynamics and psychology. If you travel around the world, you start to see how people are different but also how they’re the same. And when you start to see those underlying commonalities that all humans from all over the world have in common, you’ll see what we can really connect on.
Hobbies. Hobbies kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, hobbies are a great way to meet people who are likely to be a good fit for you. Now that’s assuming you choose hobbies you actually want to do that have a social element to them. So this can’t just be playing board games by yourself at home, you have to go join a board game community. As long as you’re really into board games, everyone else there is too. So you’ve already got that in common. You already got the kind of mind that finds this interesting and common. You can imagine how much more likely they are to be a good fit for you than, say, somebody who’s really into kite surfing, which you can’t stand. If nothing else, even hobbies that you have on your own give you something to talk about that will naturally come up during conversation. They show so much about you, your hobbies, they show what you’re interested in, they show what you put energy and invest your time and money into, they show what you consider to be a worthwhile use of time. There’s so much that’s revealed in a hobby and it can often be surprising. You know, you meet the accountant and you find out that he’s a salsa dancer. It gives them a flavor that other accountants don’t have. And what you’ll notice is people who have a lot of hobbies become really unique. They’re really flavorful. One time in my life, I was a probation officer, but I also played in a metal band and competed in salsa competitions. Do you know anyone else who has that combination? Now that was just from pursuing my hobbies. I wasn’t trying to become an interesting person, I was just trying to do what I felt like doing, trying to participate in the world. But I’ll tell you what, you bring any of those up in a conversation, and you’re away running. It’s so easy for the other person to engage, because it’s such interesting topics for them to engage in.
Video journaling. So journaling, of course, is the practice of reflecting on your day or the time that’s been previous, and trying to learn from it and explore it and share it with yourself. Now, I recommend journaling in a sense of you actually review your day with a critical eye, like you are your own coach trying to give yourself advice and feedback and support, and even criticism. But if you do this with video, as well, you learn to speak about yourself. Now, most people, the trouble they have with rapport, like we covered in the questions video, is they’re not comfortable speaking about themselves, sharing stories and information, secrets about themselves. First, you get comfortable on your own with video journaling. Not only are you going to be saying it out loud, but you can watch it back later to see what it’s like to listen to you talk, and it’s gonna give you all the feedback you need on your communication style, your body language, your voice tone, how shameful or confident you sound, you will see so much that you can work on there.
The practice of upgrading your messaging forum. I suppose it’s directly a social skill. But let’s say you want to text somebody; call them instead. Let’s say you want to call someone, call them to invite them to a person to person meet up. So whatever it is you want to do, try and upgrade it to the next level. You know many of you, especially if you’re Gen Z and younger generation, you’re used to having quite distant communication. You’re used to hiding behind the internet and behind screens. And it’s really difficult to build genuine rapport and connection with this distance. Study’s show clearly that written communication hides most of what’s being said. You really need to be face to face with someone if you can be. Video calling is nearly always an option if you’ve got the internet, so at least that. Now, some people won’t answer your call because they’re uncomfortable with it. But the point is you practicing the upgrade, where you’re trying to develop the courage to not settle for the easy way of communicating, the safe way, the way we get to like think through what you say before you write it down, and get more into spontaneous conversation. Allow yourself to have more difficult conversations so that you become stronger at it.
People watching, and judging, frankly. The 3x model of conversation is based almost entirely on me carefully observing close friends and couples who are deeply in love. And I learned how great communicators function by watching great communicators have conversations with each other. By great communicators, I don’t mean somebody who’s good at giving a TED talk or can present on a Udemy course. I mean to people who obviously have a great connection, and obviously very comfortable and free flowing, are able to share both the pleasures and the pain, they can agree and disagree. And they clearly have no difficulty expressing to each other honestly, and it seems fair and balanced. If you ever get a chance, if you notice that happening, maybe it’s somebody you know, maybe you just happened to be sitting next to a couple at a cafe, pay attention, eavesdrop, spy on them, and ask yourself, What am I seeing? What am I learning from this?
Writing stories about your own life. Now we’re going to have a video in this course about storytelling. But before storytelling, there comes story writing. Get used to remembering clearly the stories from your life, the experiences that you’ve had, in a kind of structured way with a beginning, a middle and an end. So you can actually write down important or interesting things that have happened to you in your life. They can either be meta stories, like your childhood, or minor stories, like that time you went for ice cream with your father. And what you’re looking for, is the ability to clearly express how it happened. Now, if you’re not used to doing this, not used to writing it down, you probably just jumble details out and there’s no clear coherent story and you just go off on sidetracks. But if get used to writing it down as if it’s like a short story competition, or you’re trying to get it down to one paragraph, that kind of thing, you’ll learn how to put these words together in your head and be better able to express them later.
Identifying and expressing emotions even when you’re alone. So if you’re someone who’s not comfortable talking about how you feel, so you’re a man, for example, or you come from a Western culture where this isn’t really appreciated, get used to at least saying it to yourself. Even if you’re just mumbling quietly under your breath, or you just kind of write it down on a note. Maybe you check in every couple of hours and just go How do I feel? and then try to put that into words. Because you need to be able to express emotions in order to connect with people. But a lot of you won’t even know what words to use. You won’t be able to identify a feeling is, and be like there’s something here? rather than sadness, anger, frustration, sense that something bad’s gonna happen. If you start practicing, putting into words and saying it out loud, it won’t feel so awkward and stuttery doing it with real people.
For practicing a lot of the techniques in this course, you can actually use television shows, Netflix shows, movies, anything where there’s lots of dialogue and people talking about interesting stuff. And what you can do is you can pause the show when somebody’s finished speaking, and respond to them as if they’re having a conversation with you. You probably don’t want anyone to know that you’re doing this unless you’re totally shameless. But the point is, you can use these kind of fake actors as practice tools. Right? So let’s say you want to learn how to do reflective listening, you just pause the TV when the guy’s finished talking, reflect what he said back to him, and then press unpause and keep going.
Generally studying psychology and philosophy. I mean, the more you learn about how humans function, how the brain functions, what happens in social dynamics, things like cognitive biases, and how people behave in groups, and how culture affects behavior, and just how people make decisions, and how people generally feel during social interactions, I mean, there’s so much free information about this stuff on the internet now that you can become a master of psychology for no cost at all. If you spend 5 to 10 minutes a day watching something new from a reliable source on human psychology, on communication, on how people think, you’re going to have more and more understanding of why people are doing what they do, you’ll be better able to build rapport with them, because you’ll understand them better. And psychology is always an interesting topic. People always love talking about people, right? So you’re going to build up a great wealth of information that people want to talk about.
Partner dancing. This was a breakthrough for me personally. I did salsa dancing, and then I did a different style called Zouk. But a style of dancing where there’s a lead and follow dynamic. It doesn’t have to be male and female, necessarily, but two people are touching each other and one is leading, the other one’s kind of doing the show, and the other one is doing the control. Not only does this get you really comfortable with touching people, that also shows you how to build a connection without words, how to build it with your body language, how to bring a frame to a conversation that’s completely soundless. It also follows a lot of the common patterns that we have to deal with, like if I go and ask someone to dance, then we dance and we figure out how our connection is, and if I like them I dance with them some more, and if not I say goodbye. Those are all the same dynamics as dating, you know, asking someone out, initiating, deciding whether or not you want to see them again, if you do inviting them further. You’re learning all the same stuff that applies with job interviews, everything. So partner dancing is not only great for developing all those kind of deeper, more intuitive connection skills, it’s also just a great social environment. You get to meet lots of people who are into self development, are generally pretty kind and compassionate and fun to be with.
The final one on the list is learning another language. There are some studies I’ve seen that show learning another language actually enhances how your entire brain functions. So that’s got to be good. But also you’ll find that language contains culture. When you start learning another language, you have to actually think differently to be able to speak the language, you have to think the way they think. And you’ll find that it’s not exactly the same. That they might use different words, but not just different words, they might cut words out because they don’t see the need for them. For example, in the Zulu language, there is no word for Thank you, there’s no word for sorry. They don’t have gratitude and regret in the language because they don’t think that way. So it’s amazing to try and interact with such languages that don’t come from the Western point of view. We think you have to say thank you when someone gives you a gift, a point of view where giving the gift is deemed to be an act on the behalf of the other person. So there’s nothing you need to do about it, you don’t need to validate them. That’s just an example of the kind of insights you might have when you learn a language.
So pick a few from this list, or even just one, and do it with the conscious intention of developing your rapport building skills, at least as a secondary reason for doing it. And watch how it affects the way you socialize. If it works, well keep doing it. And if not, come back to the list and try a different one.
Thank you so much for watching. You want to master your social world and develop the skills to build deep connections with anybody get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk about coaching