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How to Have Less Awkward Conversations: Assuming Rapport

How to Have Less Awkward Conversations: Assuming Rapport
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Assuming rapport. This is definitely one of the best social skill tips I have ever learned about. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten a bit about it lately. Maybe you have too. Or missed it altogether. So I thought I’d bring it up again.

Now, what is assuming rapport?

Basically, instead of going into a conversation or meeting nervously and thinking “how will this go?” you take different approach. You assume that you and the person(s) will establish a good connection (rapport).

How do you do that? You simply pretend that you are meeting one of your best friends. Then you start the interaction in that frame of mind instead of the nervous one.

I have found that this advice is surprisingly useful and easy to implement.

Just before the meeting, you just think that you’ll be meeting a good friend. Then you’ll naturally slip into a more comfortable, confident and enjoyable emotional state and frame of mind.

This also helps you and the other people to set a good frame for the interaction. A frame is always set in the at the start of an interaction. It might be a nervous and stiff frame, a formal and let’s-get-to-the-point kind of frame or perhaps a super relaxed one. The thing is that the frame that is set in the beginning of the conversation is often one that may stay on for a while. First impressions last.

If it’s a very stiff frame then it may very well continue to be so until the end. It can be quite difficult to for instance change that frame into a more relaxed one. Often people – you and the others – adapt to the frame that is set and interact within it. Breaking or changing that frame may feel uncomfortable or a bit weird. And so you and the others can become reluctant to do so and instead just play along.

First impressions last
So setting a good frame at the very beginning can bring more enjoyment and better results out of any kind of meeting. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so useful to smile when you first meet someone. And it’s also important to consider that the impression made and frame set may not just last during the first conversation. It may continue throughout your relationship with this new friend, classmate or co-worker.

Now, meeting your best friend might not always be the best thing to think about before a meeting. If it’s a meeting at work or in school then you may need to have use a more formal frame (for instance without hugs and the relaxed attitude you have with friends). In that case you may want to try to imagine a similar meeting that went well and your interactions with the people there.

If you go into a conversation with the right frame of mind a lot of the problems you may have encountered before or created outside and inside your mind just never come up. Much of communication is non-verbal and can be difficult to manually correct in a conversation. But when you go in with a positive and relaxed energy then that is fed into the interaction by you using your non-verbal communication – like your voice tonality and body language – in good way.

Just be yourself
When you’re with your friend you don’t think about what you should say next or what funny comment you could pull out of your sleeve. You just stay in the present moment, moment by moment, and the conversation flows easily and naturally.

I think this is what some people mean when they give the often confusing advice to “just be yourself”. When your friends give you that advice then they may mean that you should be “like you are when you are hanging out with us”. They want to see you bring out your natural and relaxed self in other interactions.

One final useful thing about assuming rapport is that you may also start to feel positive feelings towards this new person, just as you do with your friend when you meet him/her. This is a pretty good starting point for getting the new person to reciprocate and for developing a good relationship.

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