Charisma Work Out # 6: Rapport and ethical leadership

charisma workout  6Ethical leaders, compliance staff, legal advisers and others working in the ethics area need to be able to create a strong rapport with others.

Rapport means being able to connect at a feeling level. By being in touch with people emotionally—you get to see what others may miss,

Putting this slightly differently, rapport means relating well to others. By building this ability you will improve your personal impact and influence.

While some people have a natural talent for creating strong rapport, it’s also perfectly possible to learn how to do it better.

Here are some highly condensed secrets of building great rapport.[spacer height=”20px”][spacer height=”20px”] Click each item for the information.

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Of these nine ways to build rapport, one of the most important is being able to communicate your empathy.  Here’s a quick reminder on ways to do do that.

5 Ways of communicating empathyWe each build relationships with people in our own way. This Charisma Work Out 6 shows some of the most effective ways of doing that.


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Seek out specific areas where you have something in common with your audience. It doesn’t matter what you want to say, so much as finding things the audience wants to hear.

This could mean doing far more than just knowing who is attending a meeting or turning up to a presentation. Instead make the effort to find out about them as people, and use this to tailor what you want to say.

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Assess other people’s state of mind by watching for a mixture verbal and non-verbal cues.

You can exchange literally hundreds of non-verbal signals in less than a minute. They are more credible than what you say, since they come from part of the brain you do not directly control.

What to look for? Watch out for body movements, body orientation, nuances of the voice, facial expressions, details of dress, and even what objects people use to communicate such as pointing a pen or waving a report.

Listen for tone of voice, signalling uncertainty or anger, facial expressions signally mood such as tiredness or anxiety, eye movement, signalling boredom or antagonism, and posture signalling dislike or lack of concern.

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The Cherokee tribe of Native Americans summed this up simply as: “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”.

What does this really mean? Somehow you must identify and understand another person’s feelings, without entirely experiencing them for yourself at that particular moment.

More simply it’s experiencing the world from their perspective. Someone with negative experience of ethical issues at work for example, will not respond well to simply being urged to “do the right thing”.

Be ready though to check on your own feelings in respect of the other person. If you secretly dislike them for example it may be hard to show any empathy for their situation.

Questions you might ask yourself, apart from “how am I feeling about this person?” might include:

  • What is driving this person right now—that, is their motivation?
  • Can I replace my present feelings towards this person with compassion or love?
  • What do we have in common, rather than emphasising differences?
  • Am I willing to suspend judgement about this person or their views until I fully understand them?
  • Ask them about their perspective or even their feelings regarding a specific situation or occurrence. That way, you aren’t dependent on your sensitivity

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Working in the area of ethics, it is rather easy to make people feel bad or diminished in some way.

Respect means also means different things to different people, and different things in different cultures. So treating others with respect often becomes a serious problem.

To avoid offending someone by being disrespectful, you must think about both what they need and how you act.

Ways to do this include:

Show gratitude. Thank people for their assistance, or even coming to you meetings. Show you appreciate their support on a regular basis—not just a one-off compliment.

Compliment their achievement–recognize when other people has made extra effort and achieved something in respect of ethical issues and praise them for it with sincerity. Take them aside and do it in private, so your compliments will seem genuine.

Speak from the heart: this is being authentic and honest, in which you allow you natural feelings to be on show.

Do what you say you’ll do—if you commit to something be sure to come through on your end of the deal. Being reliable shows respect for people’s time, and shows that you’re making a special effort to be there for them.

Finally, recognize people are different from you and from each other.

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Matching or mirroring someone’s gestures affects how they relate to you. This works best when you show interest in them as people.

You’ve probably been doing mirroring all your life without knowing it. When you experience the secret power of mirroring it’s a bit like young Skywalker recognizing and harnessing the power of the Force!

It works by being similar or having someone similar in your vicinity. This creates a feeling of ease, comfort, being understood, and protected.

The most obvious forms of mirroring are yawning and smiling. Both are contagious – seeing a smiling person makes you want to smile too, and as a result you will feel better, even if you were not feeling particularly happy in the beginning.

In your brain there’s a neuron responsible for recognition of faces and facial expressions. This neuron causes the ‘mirroring’ reaction and makes people to copy the facial expression the see on others.

In crude terms if you talk about ethics and look miserable doing it, don’t be surprised if others become miserable too! So it pays to set the scene, when you demonstrate enthusiasm, confidence and other positive emotions you will have an equal positive impact on others.

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Carefully chosen words and phrases affect people’s emotions and promote rapport, for example paying a genuine compliment.

No matter how effective your language or communication it may all be negated by poor delivery, hesitation and other less obvious weaknesses.

Also while language plays an important part in communication ut it’s important not to exaggerate its significance. Body language and other silent rapport methods may often trump any power of words to have a large impact.

The power of language to persuade, change people’s minds, or win their commitment, includes a wide range of approaches. Here are just a few you might use when talking about ethics in an organisation:

  • Experiential Language: Talk about real experience of ethics in the work setting.

  • Future Language: Use the future to talk about what you want to achieve

  • The Hook: Find a hook to grab people’s attention and interest

  • Intensifiers: increase the emotional impact of your message by selected examples

  • Appeal to self-interest: Show why doing what you want creates a personal gain for listeners

  • Possibility Language: Talking about what could be.

  • Power Words: Use words that have special meaning—like success, or responsibility

  • Pronoun Language: Using “I” and “You” can add power

  • Punch Words: Use words with impact such as “results, win, lose, now, profits

  • Short Sentences: Like this. That work. Of course.

  • Using Pauses: Adding power with very largely nothing.

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Parents do it. Salespeople do it. Consultants do it. Spouses do it. Executives do it. That is, they lead and persuade by questioning.

Intelligent queries gives a person the chance to shine. For example offer open-ended ones that encourage them to talk and share interesting information:

“What do you think about that decision?” “How could we better protect our company’s reputation?” “Could a scandal like that occur here in this organisation?”

Questions can also tap into people’s emotions, particularly around ethics.

People often have strong feelings about “doing what’s right” and a good question such as

“How do you feel about that?” may often release a stream of communication suggesting how you can further influence the situation with further information or queries.

A useful question is invite someone to explain their own reasons for doing something.

For example, you might ask asking the person say where they are on a scale:

“On a scale of 1 o0 10, how willing are you to speak up about something you think is wrong here?”

You then ask why they picked that number and next, what it would take to get them to move further up the scale.

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Offer someone unconditional help or information and you signal a readiness to build the relationship, which in turn aids your ability to persuade.

When it comes to ethics in an organisation people often need help. By offering to care about their needs—whatever they are in this area—you show a readiness to respond and this builds confidence in your own possible contribution.

By offering to do something for someone they will feel more likely to be compelled to do something in return. It’s part of our evolutionary DNA to help each other out.

By providing small gestures of consideration to others, you can ask for more back in return which others will happily provide.

Although offering support sounds objective in fact it carries an emotional charge. You are tapping into how others feel and handled the right way an offer of support can prove a powerful way to make a strong personal impact.

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Real life stories are like gold dust when talking about ethics in an organisation. If drawn from within the company people will feel more than just entertained, they see the situation in new way.

Make the story highly personal and you will achieve an even stronger impact. “This happened to me” is far more compelling than a distant tale of what occurred somewhere else, perhaps in some distant time.

Stories can bring your ethical message to life, making it more real for those on the receiving end. But it also matters how you share your stories. Even the best tales can be drained of their power if told in a dull, or bring way.

Find stories that seem close to the experiences of your listeners. For example, draw them from the same industry, or a respected competitor, rather than from more distant source.

The very best stories are ones where those listening can personally identify with those taking part—for instance involving people just like them, or near enough.

So if you want to make an impact about ethics, don’t rely on just offering persuasive arguments. Instead tell a story.

Good stories have a clear message, relates to the point of view of those on the receiving end, use real examples, and are based around solid facts.

Some of those working in the area of ethics in organisations have a story for every occasion and become a form of coaching to get what they want.

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