The Secret to Building Great Rapport

5 Forces That Attract

What is it about some people that give them the ability to attract and hold influence with just about anyone? Especially when there are others out there who seem to be able to repel just about everyone.  The former is called rapport, also more commonly known as “connection”. The later goes by a number of names (most can’t be written here).

Why is the ability to establish strong rapport so important? Because it’s essential if you want to have optimal influence with people as well as organizations.

While most of us are between the two extremes mentioned above, the reality is that all of us, like a magnet, are capable of either attracting or repelling to various degrees.

Who are the people in your life you’ve seen or known who seem to have a natural ability to attract anyone, even the most disagreeable?  It’s not just about being “nice”. In fact, having great rapport gives you the ability to say hard things to hard people who not only listen, but really feel like you still care for them…..even when the stakes are large, emotions run high and opinions differ.  My dad is like that and has been as long as I can remember.  In fact, he is so good at it that when I was a kid he could shift me from crying to being optimistic in seconds sometimes, or even have me laughing.

5 Forces That Attract

While some people no doubt are naturally gifted at rapport, the good news is that you can grow your rapport by focusing on the following five forces:

  1. Self-awareness- is simply to know yourself as you really are in all domains. It comes from developing a straight-forward understanding of how you experience things and what makes you tick.
  2. Empathy- is simply to see and feel things from someone else’s perspective; to put yourself in someone else shoes. At a more granular level, there are various kinds of empathy as well as ways to effectively leverage it.
  3. Positive Regard- is not just viewing another as a person worthy of respect, but allowing yourself to experience positive attitudes like warmth, caring, and interest about them as well. You don’t have to necessarily like him or her, you just have to keep your personal judgements from interfering with a view from which positive attitudes can flow.
  4. Genuiness- may also be known as authenticity or congruence and relates to trust. It’s not just about what you do but about who you are: open vs closed; owning it vs avoiding it; kind as well as challenging when necessary.
  5. Presence- It’s a way of bringing yourself and being with another with. It is an in-the-moment experience that is bodily, sensory and interpersonal and features a quite confidence and accompanying gravitas.

3 Foundational Traits

While the five forces that attract are extremely powerful and synergistic, they have to rest on a three-fold foundation:

  • Self-control- is required to maintain focus, manage self-talk, making judgments, regulate emotions and find the positives in the other person regardless of their characteristics or situation.
  • Psychological mindedness”-  involves being aware of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of both the other person and yourself, then “reading between the lines” and putting the pieces together.
  • Genuine interest-  means you have the other person best interests in mind and care about them…even when you have to work hard at it.

The ability to establish strong rapport is essential for optimal connection and influence. Is your’s where you want it?

As you reflect on what your rapport building ability, a good exercise is to think of how various people might answer if someone else asked them about it. That would include not only your fans but those who are a challenge for you as well .

Regardless, the good news is that you can grow your ability to build rapport. The other news is you have to work at it.

What would having the ability to build better rapport do for you personally as well as your most important enterprise?

Please leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

5 Seconds To Change Anything

Why It Starts In The Morning And How To Make It Happen

Your alarm rings. You reach over and hit the snooze button. Repeat(edly). Is this you? According to Sleep Review, that’s the case for over half of you reading this post.

In their 2014 survey they found that 57% of Americans (and 70% of Brits) were snoozers, admit to staying in bed more than 5 minutes every morning and were still tired when they finally woke up.

Prior to 2013, that would have described me in the morning.  Not anymore.

Because I had been a serious life-long snooze-button-hitter up to that time (often 30 minutes), deciding to change was daunting.   I think it gave me an idea of what it must be like for a smoker when he or she decides to quit- a little bit of nervous excitement and a lot of fear…..of failing yet again.

You Snooze, You Lose

The motivation to make a switch came after reading the chapter in Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book Buried Treasure entitled “The Dangers of the Snooze Button” .  There’s a lot there and the two realities that struck me the most about hitting the snooze button were that we:

  • make our first action of the day to procrastinate.
  • limit our day by surrendering to our physical desires.


To my surprise, I was successfully made the change from hitting the snooze button to jumping out of bed immediately from day 1. It was much easier than I thought and I’ve only hit my snooze button twice in the last 3.5 yrs.

I hadn’t thought too much about why I was successful with it and failed all the other times until l read Mel Robbins’ book “The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.” I saw right away that I had used the 5 Second Rule without knowing what it was, which shows how simple and effective it can be.  The other good news is that works with about anything we want to take action on or change in our life. Jumping out of bed first thing in the morning is a good place to start.

What’s the 5 Second Rule?

Simply this: the moment the time comes or you have an instinct to act on a goal or item, you count backwards “5-4-3-2-1” and then move.  Both counting as well as moving are critical.  Counting backwards (forward doesn’t work) interrupts your default self-preservation and pleasure mode of thinking and opens a channel for your mind to think in a different direction. When you couple backward counting with movement your physiology changes, your mind falls in line and you get the activation energy you need to make things that are tough for you happen.

Unlike planning and contemplative executive decision making, our decision to buy as well as act in the moment are driven predominately by emotion and not cognition. In fact, once you’ve planned and decided to do something courageous or difficult, thinking about it more when it comes time to take action makes it less likely you’ll actually do it! Instead, you’ll hesitate, have just enough time to go into flight, fight, faint or freeze mode which then gives your brain enough time to think of a million ways to justify not doing it (i.e. make excuses).  It’s the kiss of death to change efforts.

How Does It work?

There are over 10 cognitive behavioral principles related to change that are leveraged in some for or fashion for any change effort to be successful. If you want the detail, Mel Robbins’ blog does a great job of elucidating these change principles with brief text and diagrams as well as a video if you have time to watch.  The great thing about the 5 Second Rule is that it’s a simple, single technique that impacts all of these. In essence, it’s a “starting ritual” that allows us to leverage our neurophysiology in a way that serves instead of sabotages our own best interests.

The Reward

Here are two other beautiful things about the 5 Second Rule:

  • Repeat it often enough and your change efforts become habit, so no more backward counting to get off the dime.
  • It has an overflow effect and begins to show up almost automatically in other areas you hadn’t thought of as well as when you need to take action most.

Using the 5-second rule first thing in the morning can help you overcome the resistance that holds you in bed and that holds you back in the other moments that matter most.

We all have our own “Why’s” for what we want to change. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan gave us the What. The 5 Second Rule gives the “How” to get moving. And while the Rule doesn’t necessarily make things easy, it does make things happen. Especially first thing in the morning, which is a great place to start.

If you used the 5-second rule to pop out of bed tomorrow morning, how much more time and energy would you gain?  If you’re one of the ~25% who don’t hit the snooze button at all, what’s your greatest challenge or opportunity to leverage the Rule with?

Please leave a comment and let me know how it’s going for you….count backward from 5 if you need to.

How To Do More Of What You Love

And Less of What Drags You Down

How many times have you wished for more time or thought you never had enough time to get it all done? Perversely, the other side of this coin is “brag-plaining”. You know, the person who talks about how busy they are and considers getting four hours of sleep a night something to be proud of?

Maybe you’ve been this person at times; unfortunately, I know I have been.   We all want to be more productive and less busy. Note: activity does not = accomplishment.

If it seems harder than ever today to get stuff done that’s because it is.  The reality is that nearly all our institutions equip us with skills and a mindset for being really great industrial age workers when we live in a hi-tech, hi-speed knowledge economy.  No wonder we feel overwhelmed most of the time.

Sage Advice from the Past

Ironically, we can turn the tables on our productivity dilemma with some sage advice from the past.

My great grandmother’s approach to getting stuff done in a nutshell was “I just take it (life) like it comes, not like I want it to be”.  The words of Vietnam POW Admiral Jim Stockdale that have come to be known at the “Stockdale Paradox embody the same idea in a fuller way:

  • Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be
  • Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties

That approach and mindset is the foundation for successfully dealing with most things in life and your productivity is no exception.  However, you still need a framework to successfully execute and maximize your ability to get stuff done.  That’s where I think Michael Hyatt’s “Free To Focus” (FOF) productivity course fills a gap and provides an reality-based model to leverage your productivity.

Learn to Recognize

Reflecting on my experience after taking his online FOF course in the fall, I think these are the key elements of his model that turn the current way we think of productivity, and it’s industrial age twin sister time management, on their head:

  • Recognize you can’t manage time– you can only manage yourself, your priorities and your energy.
  • Recognize your self-limiting beliefs– once you do you can replace ones like “I don’t have the time” with “I have enough time to accomplish at least one thing that matters most.”
  • Recognize what you really want to be and do– these are the things for which you have both passion and proficiency. When you do operate in this zone you experience “flow”  and freedom, even when working hard!

What’s Your “Zone”?

Once you get your mindset where it needs to be and know where you really want to go, it’s time to look at where you are really at. To do so requires you recognize where your current action and productivity intersect with your passion and proficiency. Hyatt calls this the “Freedom Compass” and describes four zones:

  1. Desire Zone- you have both passion proficiency; it’s the “true north” where you experience flow and freedom.
  2. Disinterest Zone- you have proficiency with no passion; you’re good at these things and they still leave you bored and drained.
  3. Drudgery Zone- you have neither passion nor proficiency; these are simply a grind and leave you drained.
  4. Distraction Zone- you have passion and no proficiency, therefore these are often an escape. If an activity in this zone isn’t learning something that might move into your Desire zone then drop it like a bad habit.

The Key

The key now is to start doing more of what’s in your desire zone and doing less of everything else. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not initially. This approach does get easier as you learn how to spend more time getting stuff done in your Desire Zone. Hyatt’s FOF course is a great tool and one I highly recommend when it launches again in the fall.

Remember, regardless of whether the facts of your current situation are brutal or not, retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties along the way.

We all have 24/7 and time, unlike energy, is a non-renewable resource.  And while will-power is energy draining, accomplishing what matters most is freeing and energy replenishing.

What would it do for you to spend  50% more time in your favorite “Desire Zone” activity?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

Why Most Don’t Win At The Game Called Life

And 8 Ways You Can

Regardless of how you define “winning” in life, there are some common denominators that keep people from it. A lot of people it seems. Even a brief look at selected key indicators related to personal well-being and flourishing, especially America, can get you in a melancholy mood if not out-right depressed.

Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy

The other news is that there’s a lot we have within our control that we can leverage to Win. While it’s pretty simple stuff, it’s usually not easy….and not for the reasons most think. Why so difficult? Mainly because we just aren’t self-aware of what commonly trips us up.

Before I go further I have to give credit where credit is due. The stimulus for this post came to mind after re-listening to one of Tony Robbin’s “Get The Edge” lectures when my car hi-jacked my iPhone and auto-played the content…..which broke the technology rules.   Seven of the points below come from Tony’s experience with the millions he has interacted with. The other one comes the experience of my great-grandmother who lived to be 106 yrs. old. My contribution is simply context and some elaboration.

Eight Reasons

These are eight big reasons why many people don’t win at the game called life and how you can instead:

  1. Don’t know the purpose of the game- how can you win if you haven’t defined what winning is? Decide what it is you really want. This takes time and ongoing reflection so schedule it; lather, rinse and repeat at least once a year.  Determining your purpose in a way that can expand and grow with you is part of it. The other part is pondering the questions of life’s origin, meaning, morality and destiny……even if answers don’t come right away or aren’t as clear as you like.
  2. Have too many rules- most of the rules you have for your boss, friends, spouse and yourself result in you “shoulding” way too much on yourself and others. The reality is that the majority of these can be jettisoned and all of us would be much better off. Rules are important and they can also be toxic, especially when you impose your rules on someone else.  If arguably the greatest person to ever walk the face of the earth said only two rules are paramount, how many more do we need?
  3. Refusing to work with people who have the “wrong” rules (i.e. their own)- with 7.125 billion people on a planet that is growing more connected all the time, this is going to be a problem for you if you can’t. Recognize they have as many messed up rules for themselves and others as you do and cut them some slack. Remind yourself that listening and being friends with them doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them. It also gives you the freedom to do just that.
  4. Have rules in conflict- this is a natural result of items 2 & 3 above. The more rules you have the more mental and emotional dissonance you’re going to experience. Of course, we’re brilliant at working around conflicting rules and letting  ourselves off the hook with our own personal in-field fly rules. Even with our work-arounds, we still never quite get rid of the self-imposed residue of guilt. Losing 1/2 your rules now will go a long way in avoiding this one.
  5. Play by the rules and “lose”- sometimes your unrealistic expectations cause your disappointment. And sometimes, truly bad things do happen in life regardless of what you do. You get the trip to Iceland during winter instead of the one to Hawaii you had planned…, having a child with special needs instead of one born healthy. Recognize that there is meaning beyond the moment. Asking yourself self-defeating questions that have no answer, like “Why me?” will only cause a mental loop and keep you stuck. Instead, ask yourself empowering questions like “What can I learn from this pain to help myself and others?” and you may find a gift you never dreamed of. As Jim Rohn said, “never lose the good out of a bad experience.”
  6. Break the rules and win!- so, you violated what you hold sacred and your values….and you get a win! Well, maybe not so much. Now you now have to reconcile that short-term pleasure with your long-term interests and higher purpose. Remind yourself that ultimate pleasure isn’t what you get in life, it’s who you become and what you contribute in the process.
  7. Take life too seriously or not seriously enough-  I get that our life is no practice session.  I also know that life is filled with rhythms of all kinds and to live every situation out as if it were life-and-death is just as much a denial of reality as someone who is pollyanna all the time. The former is to live in fear and anxiety; the latter is to live with blinders on and ultimately disappointment.
  8. Take life on your terms instead of how it is- just because you feel or think something should be a certain way doesn’t mean it is, regardless of what color glassed you have on or how far down your head is in the sand.  Learn to reframe any situation and stay positive while being able to accept and handle the negative.

Winning in life requires we know what we want and are aware of the obstacles that often keep us from it.  Being aware of these 8 common pitfalls can maximize your opportunity to win

What’s working to get past one of these eight that’s showing up most often for you right now?

Please leave a comment, I’d love hear.

Stuck?! Ask Yourself These 3 Questions To Get Going Again

Stuck is a place where your caught or held in a position where you can’t move or get away from. It’s also a place where you can’t solve a problem and make forward progress.

The good news is that “stuck” is normal; the other news is that it doesn’t feel good and it’s hard to get out of.

If you’ve ever been stuck physically, like in a truck, car or perhaps some other off-road sporting vehicle then you know it can be frustrating and messy. The thrill and exhilaration of what your doing goes away and it’s often replaced by a combination of surprise, determination, anxiety and quite possibly fear.

For those of you with “stuck” experience, you know that rocking back and forth, putting stuff under the wheels for traction and all kinds of other fall back maneuvers will often get you out of the rut.  And to get out when you’re really stuck (the up-to-your-fender-well, can’t get out kind of stuck), you have to take another step and make that embarrassing call. It means eating some humble pie, tasting even more disappointment, sadness, anger and if you’re really out in the boonies, despair.

Being stuck personally and professionally is a lot like that too…both the self service variety as well as the “I-can’t-get-out-gotta-make-a-call” kind.   And unlike being physically stuck, there isn’t a rescue hotline or towing service to call for this one when you can’t get out on your own.

Just because there isn’t a hotline doesn’t mean there isn’t help when your really stuck.  You can get moving forward again by asking yourself these 3 fundamental questions:

  • Where am I now and where do I want to go? By answering yourself honestly, you can develop discrepancy or a gap to focus on and address.  This is fundamental and sometimes requires asking for outside input in order to get extremely clear about the rut your in and where the high road for you might be.
  • What do I want to change?  Notice the question isn’t what do I “need” to change, it’s what do I “want” to change.   We may know we need something to change to get unstuck but until we want to change we won’t. Sometimes this question makes you aware of a discrepancy between what needs to change and what your willing to change.  Until your willing, nothing will change for you. When you’re willing to change, then it’s possible for things to change for you.
  • What’s my powerful Why? It’s been said “You lose your way when you lose your why”. We are hard-wired to resist being pushed into doing stuff and it’s no different here. All the “I should’s”, “I have to’s” and “I need to’s” aren’t going to work for you in the long-run. Instead of a push we need to be pulled by something we can really latch on to. That something is the powerful “Why” we have for what we want to be different.  Keep revisiting (or fine-tuning) your “Why” until you’re able to get on the other side of ambivalence.

In summary, getting unstuck involves knowing where your at, what needs to change, and why you want to change.  Sounds easy, and it is…..unless you’re “stuck”!

Getting stuck is normal, staying stuck long-term is not.  When you feel stuck, asking yourself (literally) and reflecting on these 3 fundamental elements can get you moving again in the right direction. Likewise, getting unstuck requires intentional, conscious effort and staying unstuck will require self-awareness and intermittent course correction.

If you’re currently stuck or in a rut, which of these 3 questions do you need to focus on right now to get moving again? If you’re not, put them in your emergency kit because you’ll need them at some point; we all do.

Please leave a comment, especially if your currently “stuck”!