You have to like people – really like people to build rapport

Bill ClintonRecently, I was helping a group of Managing Partners to kick-off their firm’s strategy session at their offsite retreat.  My work, early in their session, was getting them ready to connect, communicate and brainstorm brilliantly – to get through their aggressive agenda that sets up the direction of the firm.

During my session, one partner asked, “Why is it that there are those people who are exceptional at building rapport really easily with people?”  He cited the time when he met Bill Clinton very early in his career.  Bill was little known outside of his state of Arkansas and was now at the beginning of his campaign for the presidency.

Charles observed him going from group to group and was dumbfounded by Bill Clinton’s ability to get people to like him immediately. He saw it as magical – almost mystical.  And he asked, – “What’s he got?”

Not having the immediate answer, I mentioned what I know from hearing about Bill is that he is considered to be a really great listener. Politics and feelings aside – He knows how to focus on the other.

Later that day, it hit me. I had an epiphanyTo have people like you – YOU have to really like people.  Now it’s crazy to say this (because I’m not one of them) but there are lots of people who don’t like people.  They are at a severe deficit today.

Building rapport and trust comes with great awareness and practice.  There are ingredients that go into this recipe.  Here is one important ingredient to try out:

Look to be self directed rather than other directed. When we are other directed, it means that we are up in our head, distracted and  wondering “What is it that others think is right for me to say and do?” 

When we are self directed, we have the confidence to own our abilities.  It’s with this authentic, confident self we can become other focused.  Other focused is putting our full attention on the other person. It is a skill that will pay big dividends in building rapport and trust.

Like yourself. Like other people.