Building Rapport Quickly in Real Estate – by Dana Sparks
Rapport is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “relation marked by harmony, conformity, accord or affinity.” You will often hear people talk about “being in sync” or “on the same wavelength.” Establishing rapport with a customer is vital to gaining their commitment, loyalty and eventual closing and referral business. People like and trust people who are like themselves because similar behaviors create familiar expectations. People generalize all the time and make assumptions about their future relationship with YOU based on their past relationship with someone else who was similar to you! The more familiar you are to your customer, the more rapport you will establish to immediately and gain their trust and allegiance and business! You must communicate in a way to appear familiar to them. Verbal, vocal nuances and body language establish rapport much quicker and deeper than similar hobbies or experiences! The following are some verbal and non-verbal skills of which to be mindful and develop so that you may be in rapport with your customers and quickly turn them into clients and advocates!
Rate of Speech/Tempo: This refers to how fast or slowly someone speaks. People generalize about another simply based on this rate! For example, if you are from the North, when you speak with someone from the South who speaks slower, you think they are “stupid” or dim-witted. Conversely, if you are from the South, and speak with someone who is from the North or speaks fast, you think they are “up to something no good” or trying to con you out of something! Pay attention to the rate of speed at which your customer speaks and try and match that rate so that you are more familiar to those with whom they are most comfortable!
Tonality: This term refers to how nasaly / chest / throaty / breathy a person speaks. For example, Marilyn Monroe was very “breathy.” If you speak in a booming voice and project from your diaphragm to Marilyn Monroe, you may be perceived as being pushy, intimidating or overpowering. On the other hand if you speak more lightly to someone who speaks less forcefully, then you may be perceived as being weak or unsure of yourself. You want to match the tone of your customer as closely as possible so that you will be perceived to be more like them!
Pronunciation: tomato vs. tomaato 😉 Need I say more?
Body Language: There are thousands of books written on the importance of body language in communication. 55% of our communication is non-verbal communication. Some of these nonverbal cues include posture, gestures, facial expressions, shrugs, head nods and shifts in behavior. It is commonly taught in all types of sales training that when you want someone to agree with you, you shake your head in the affirmative and they will eventually do the same and hence begin to agree with you! We all have also had the experience of contagious smiles and laughter. For a really interesting short video on body language, see what John Cusack doesn’t say to an unprepared journalist in the YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8LA10Tg10s&feature=related
Emotions: Keep in mind that happy people HATE depressed people and sad people HATE happy people! 😉 When you first work with a Buyer, they are all excited about finding a new home and they are joyous with uplifted spirits of anticipation. That would not necessarily be the time to tell them that due to the lack of inventory and properties selling over list price with multiple offers, they should be prepared to lose 3 or 4 contracts before finding a home on which they will actually close! On the other hand, when that same couple HAS lost out on 4 contracts, you probably don’t want to jump in the car and say, “Woo hooo! Here we go … off to find your new home! Isn’t this fun and exciting!??!?!” Obviously, if your customer is upset (as in this illustration or perhaps due to being in financial distress with the house they are selling) you DO want to offer them encouragement and hope and give them the confidence that YOU are the agent to help them solve their real estate needs! I am simply encouraging you to not be the polar opposite to their emotions, rather notice where they are and then lead them up if they are in a negative place!
According to the Journal of Consulting Psychology, a study designed to describe how the mind interprets meaning, the conclusion indicated that the interpretation of a message was 7% verbal (actual words) 38% vocal (volume, pitch, rhythm, tonality) and 55% was nonverbal (facial expressions, eye movement, gestures, posture.) The implication for business communication is clear! You must utilize ALL areas of communication to your benefit. Do not rely strictly on emails, texts, phone calls or in person communication; rather use ALL 3 forms to your advantage! Remember that the meaning of our communication is the message as RECEIVED by the person regardless of the intent of the speaker! The simple phrase, “What’s wrong with you?” could be interpreted as your expression of concern (i.e. are you okay? what caused you to be ill / sad / etc.) OR that simple phrase could be interpreted as your lack of confidence in that person’s capability for rational thought (i.e. have you lost your mind? How on Earth could you do that / think that / say that / etc.) Similarly, phrases such as “Is that what you’re wearing?” or “What took you so long?” may also be misinterpreted regarding intent if those phrases were communicated to another simply in an email or a text! Do not throw away any potential business or commission or referrals due to your lack of utilizing ALL forms of communication to build rapport with your customers!