Building Rapport – The Trust Factor

Dan Burns, in his book The First 60 Seconds: Win the Job Interview Before It Begins, states “that interviewers can decide in the first 60 seconds whether you’ll be moved to the top of the list..or dropped from consideration.” What many of us often forget is that customers and colleagues are making similar decisions every day. Not whether or not to hire us, but whether or not to purchase a product or service, or go the extra mile to help us complete a task or project.

What you do and say in those first 60 seconds often determines how your relationship with your customer or colleague will remain over the long term. With so much at stake, it’s important to focus on how to make those first 60 seconds the basis for a good relationship, and the 5 steps you’ll need to take to build rapport in them.

5 step process to building rapport


1. Determine the best “mode” to use in your communication.

Is their preference visual, auditory (do they like to hear or read things), or kinesthetic (do they believe it isn’t real if they can’t touch, feel, or taste it). This can be quickly determined using eye movements. If you don’t have experience in using eye movement to determine the best way to communicate, a good overview can be found in Wikipedia. Once you know how they like to learn and communicate, it’s time to..

2. Be “aware” of your customer or colleague.

Are you too close physically? If so, the pupils of your customer or colleague’s eyes will contract. Do they appear nervous or bored? Are they leaning away from you or to the side? That means they are uncomfortable. You’ll need to change your posture to one that is more open – keeping your arms and legs uncrossed and your eyes on the customer or colleague for long, relaxed periods. Are you “mirroring” their posture to make them feel more comfortable? Remember, people like people who are like them.

3. Get in “sync.”

What kinds of words is your customer or colleague using – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic? Are you matching their word usage? Visual-visual, auditory-auditory, kinesthetic-kinesthetic? (Example: Customer: “I don’t see what you mean.” Salesperson: “Let me show you something that might help.”) Remember that people change their “mode” about every 30 seconds, you’ll probably have to change at least once in that first 60 seconds.

4. Keep checking.

Look for the non-verbal “yesses” – nods, smiles, changes in posture that signal openness. If you aren’t getting any non-verbal “yesses,” it’s time to check your own posture and switch your language. (If you’ve been using visual words, maybe it’s time to change to auditory or kinesthetic.)

5. Present new ideas in your customer most favored mode of communication.

Don’t show a PowerPoint presentation to an auditory, and don’t tell a visual about your new product or service!


Whew! The first 60 seconds is over, and if you’ve followed these five steps, you’ve probably established a great foundation for a great business relationship. You got the job, made the sale, completed the task – and it was easy!

The article outlines the 5 basic steps required to build rapport with a customer or colleague.