Modeling Builds Rapport

Posted by Todd Smith


Have you ever noticed how you are drawn to people with whom you share things in common? This is called the law of attraction and means that you will inevitably be attracted to people into your life that are similar to you. We don’t need to look far beyond our close friends to understand that we are drawn to people with similar interests. So, how can you use this natural tendency to your advantage in all of your relationships?

Two key methods come to mind:

  • Become aware of activities, interests, and relationships you may have in common with people and pay particular attention during conversations. You may both have children, you may both work in the same part of town, you may both have a son who plays soccer, or you may both like Thai food.
  • Model people. What do I mean? Modeling is a technique to mirror or match the non-verbal and verbal communication of others. As an example, when I am around people who talk softly, then I moderate my voice and speak softly. If they talk slowly, then I will do my best to match their speed and speak slowly. If they lean back in their chair, then I will casually lean back. If their legs are crossed, then I will cross my legs.


Throughout my career, I have made it a point of asking people questions with the goal of identifying things we have in common. Once I identify something we have in common, I transition the conversation to that subject. When I do, I almost immediately feel them connecting with me.

Now you may think that people will notice that you are modeling them and misinterpret the behavior as mimicking. While there is a risk of this occurring, it really depends on how obvious you are in your modeling. For example, if I am sitting at a table with someone who leans back in their chair, I won’t instantly lean back; rather, I will wait a couple of seconds to model their position.

I have been using this method of building rapport for almost the entirety of my professional career, and I am not aware of a time when someone picked up on the fact that I was modeling him or her. After all, why should people be suspicious? You are just like them.

There will also be occasions when you will want to lead those you are modeling. For instance, if you are with a prospective client and you find yourselves both leaning back while engaging in small talk, a posture change would be appropriate when the conversation shifts to the business at hand. In that scenario, it may be appropriate to change your posture and lean forward to emphasize or show them something. In most cases, they will follow your lead and lean forward.

This past week, a gentleman with enormous energy interviewed me. I had done my research prior to the interview and knew I would have to step up my energy to match his. When we were finished, he gave me a high five and said, “Todd, that turned out great!” I am confident that modeling my energy with his created an instant bond.

I first learned of the technique of mirroring and modeling in Anthony Robbins’s bestselling book Unlimited Power. If you would like to learn more about this powerful rapport-building technique, I would encourage you to read this book. It was one of the best books I have ever read.

One of the greatest benefits of mirroring and modeling is its ability to accelerate the rapport-building process. In my real estate career, modeling enabled me to quickly build rapport with my prospective clients, most of whom I had never met before our initial meeting. The end result was 92% of these residential sellers selected me to sell their homes.

If you take the time to build rapport, you will establish an environment of trust and understanding. It is from this foundation that meaningful relationships are built.

Modeling requires a conscious effort. Choose a safe situation to practice, perhaps with a good friend or a family member. Mirror their voice tone, tempo, and posture. It may be awkward at first, but you will soon recognize its value. Just have fun with it. You have nothing to lose.

Modeling people is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build rapport.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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