ere are some ideas I’ve picked up for having a good rapport, mainly for engaging in small talk and meeting new friends.  Some of these would differ between cultures.  What some societies would see as a gregarious openness, other societies would see as pushiness, but these still should give some general ideas.

As you talk with someone, keep telling yourself, “He/she likes me.”  You’ll act warmer and more open, and this person would be more likely to like you.

Keep in mind this person’s name.  I once wrote to a Czech guy, whose letters had a poetic cadence even in broken English, as is he wasn’t even trying to do this, that this is just the direction in which his soul moves him to go, and he kept referring to me by name.  At the very least, this sure looks charming and soulful.

Most people tend to be afraid to approach others at parties or similar gatherings, so you’d be doing others favors if you approach them.  You might think that the more approachable people look, the safer it is to approach them, but unapproachable people who don’t look hostile are easier to approach, since they’re simply afraid to approach others and by approaching them you’ve taken the burden of starting the conversation.  And this really isn’t much of a burden, since approaching someone really isn’t going to hurt you.  Also, since everyone’s character is fairly complicated, first impressions may not tell you everything.

When you’re headed for a party or other event where you’d be talking with people, think of three four or five topics that you could bring up.  Some ideas for this are big events in the other people’s lives, recent big events in your own life, how they met their spouses, or anything that you’ve previously found to appeal to them.

Quite possibly, if you arrive in a room full of strangers, you see someone you know, and you wave to him/her, you’ll feel more at home, and you’ll look as if you feel comfortable and approachable.

     

When you first approach people, they’ll notice far more than how good your icebreaker is.  How they’ll respond to you has more to do with what your demeanor tells them about you, and basically whether or not they want to be receptive to anyone at the moment.

Don’t worry about trivial awkwardness, since people probably won’t even notice this.  In this sense, don’t worry what people think about you, since they won’t.  Don’t worry so much.  In some situations it may be only natural to feel anxious even though you’ve got nothing to worry about, but go ahead and start talking anyway.

Look for cues about things that you could bring up in your discussions, such as distinctive jewelry or decorations around one’s home or office, or why he/she is attending the same event that you are, or something that he/she had mentioned to you recently.

Keep in mind what the other people are interested in.  If you were an advertiser, you’d put yourself in the customers’ shoes and think, “What messages would most appeal to them?”  This same sort of thinking would help in conversations.  Remembering details about the other people would also leave them feeling important.  At the same time, the conversation should be balanced, in that you should also disclose about yourself, maybe about topics that interest both of you.  Also, you know most about the topics that interest you, so these would also be good.  Also, the whole idea isn’t to cater the topics of conversation to suit them.  And let the topics of the conversation go where the conversation naturally goes, and you could get a lot more ideas and cues for this if you really listen to what the others are saying.  And if someone does bring up a topic that makes others uncomfortable, it would be perfectly appropriate to change it.

To get conversations started, ask open-ended questions, not those that can be answered by a “yes” or a “no,” a “good” or a “bad,” or any other one word or phrase.  Some closed-ended questions would be good, but not when you want something to open up or keep up a discussion.  These questions should also be easy enough to answer that you’d know that the other person wouldn’t have problems with them.

Pauses during conversations not only are okay, but can add emphasis to what follows them.  Keep in mind that this should be done subtly, though, so it doesn’t end up looking overdramatic.

     

No matter what’s your personality and disposition, you’ll be compatible with some people and incompatible with others.  The trick is to find those with whom you’re most compatible, and at different events you’d have different amount of choice over this.  At gatherings you may be able to find those with whom you’re most compatible, and you may also choose to go to certain groups’ meetings because that’s where your sort of people are.  For example, if you’re unusually smart, you may find normal conversation so unappealingly banal that at most gatherings you feel like you have asocial aversions.  If that’s the case then joining groups that smart people would join isn’t elitist.  Planning an activity with someone else that would suit your mutual interests, would do the same.

Listening, and letting the other person know you’re listening, is also important.  Unless you’re in one of those Asian countries that consider eye contact to be rude, maintaining eye contact as you talk and listen would let the other person know that you’re paying attention, though a strong, constant stare would seem strange and rude anywhere.  Your body posture also says a lot, both about whether or not you’re paying attention, and also about whether or not you’re a slouch, etc.  Leaning forward would let the person know you’re listening.  Actively responding to what the other person says, by saying “I see,” “Yes,” etc., or nodding your had, or asking questions, would also let the other person know you’re listening.  One advantage in listening is that the more you listen, the more ideas you could get as to what you could say next.

Being polite can mean legalistically maintaining the rules of etiquette, or it could mean being considerate of others in ways that don’t require you to put yourself out.  Consideration of others would make you more appealing to just about anyone.

Both when listening and when mingling at a gathering when you’d want others to feel comfortable approaching you, you’d want to look open.  Smiling would help, as would having a relaxed open posture.

When talking with casual acquaintances, asking about a person’s spouse, unless you’ve seen him/her with your acquaintance, or the person’s job, can be risky, since the person may have just been divorced or fired.  Instead, a more general question, such as “How’s the family doing?” or “How’s your career doing?” would allow him/her to decide exactly what he/she will tell you.

Keep in mind that you maintain contact with people you like.

Be yourself.  Unless you’re inherently offensive, in which case you’d better work on fixing this, the more that you express your real self, the more originality flair and excitement you’ll seem to have.
 

      

 

 


 

Regarding rapport on serious subjects, different people would respond to your legitimate objections in different ways, but you might be surprised to find someone responding as if few objections are legitimate, since in most cases you could alleviate the problem by dealing with it, and objecting goes against Christian beliefs that passing judgment rather than forgiving takes a lot of chutzpah.  You might think that someone you count on wouldn’t have such an attitude, but the thinking of self-help psychology since the Reagan/Thatcher era has associated this attitude with pragmatism, survival skills, taking responsibility for one’s own welfare, having backbone, realizing that life and/or human nature aren’t perfect and that some fairly extreme behaviors are just slightly excessively normal human imperfection, not letting your problems bother you because pain is inevitable but suffering is optional, etc.  Someone with an attitude like this who’s trying to defend something he’s done, very likely won’t size up your objections as to how much sense they make relatively, but would dismiss them absolutely as perceptions that are interfering with his self-determination and your self-reliance, or maybe even as manipulative machinations, so it would seem that the only problem is that you should choose to change your perceptions.

 

 

Possibly the best way to prevent this from happening is to discuss it beforehand.  You could try to come to a good understanding that everyone involved will respect the others’ rights, as if you all live in a small country town and have that sense of a community, not the restrictive moralism of small towns, just the mutually respectful sense of community.  This doesn’t include such good ol’ boy attitudes as racism sexism and a belief that what one does inside his own family is just his own private business, his right to be his natural self in his own private space.  You might think that “human nature” means, “It’s only natural that I try to grab whatever I can,” but human nature evolved into what it is, in small rural communities, and these communities are aware of how we simply can’t afford everyone grabbing for whatever they want.  A respect for others’ rights is something like what one of the Supreme Court justices said about pornography, that he can’t put into words what is and what is not porn, but he can recognize it when he sees it.  Not only could you know what is and what is not mutual respect, when you see it, but you can count on it that those you’re speaking with can, too, and would respond accordingly, so keep that in mind.  And, of course, mutual respect means not using actual manipulative machinations, which would also make you more credible.

If you want to make a complaint about which the other person shouldn’t be intractable, the “sandwich technique” should be good.  That is, when you make the complaint, say something good about the person beforehand, and something good afterwards, so that the complaint is “sandwiched” between the complements.  Just make sure that these complements are sincere, that this isn’t just a manipulative tactic to get what you want.  Manipulative tactics are very likely either not to work or to cause long-term resentment, and they degrade the person engaging in them.

Regarding disputes with others who caused you problems, this depends very much on what’s being discussed and on who’s discussing it.  But here are a few general ideas for this:

On my web pages on victim correction as a panacea,

I describe a thinking which would, whenever this would sound plausible, label complaints as maladjusted whining, or as manipulative machinations to get people to feel sorry for the complainer, or as unforgiving judgments, or as bitterness, or as excuses for their own failures, etc., the antithesis of the mutual respect of a small town.  When trying to settle disputes with people who’ve done things that would instigate legitimate judgments, they could very easily start talking with you like this, and as long as it sounds plausible, who’s to stop them?  Even if you think that someone you know isn’t the type who’d evade personal responsibility like this, you ought to make sure that this person doesn’t just figure that ever since the Reagan/Thatcher era a lot of thinking, especially in the field of psychology, has said that what “personal responsibility” really means is responsibility for one’s own welfare, and expecting someone to take personal responsibility for what he brings into being for others would seem utopian and/or authoritarian.  As long as those with whom you have these conflicts want you to trust in such ideas in the future, here’s what’s probably the best way to deal with this sort of situation:  If their reasons as to why they’re exempt are wide-sweeping enough to allow for some pretty extreme helplessness, you could let them know that acceptance of them would run under the “What else could you expect from a pig, except grunts?” standard.  This is the attitude that Al-Anon tells its members to have toward the addicts in their lives, since their addictions would plainly and simply be the realities of the Al-Anon members, and if they don’t just shut up and adjust to their realities this would seem to be maladjusted whining, or as manipulative machinations to get people to feel sorry for them…  One could give reasons why this would seem plausible.  Life has its vicissitudes and that when the addicts cause them the family members could deal with them if they really wanted to, etc.  This is the sort of thinking that you get when it’s predictable that as you discuss a problem, down the line for diverse reasons, the person who caused the problem will get 0% of the substantial responsibility for it and the person whose problem it is gets 100%.  If someone’s refusal to take responsibility is based on reasons that are so open-ended that they could allow for some pretty extreme situations, ask him if he really wants to be treated as if that’s his track record, as if he needs the sort of acceptance that would consist of throwing up your hands and saying, “What else could you expect from a pig, except grunts?”  Let him know that for you to treat him as if he has this track record, wouldn’t be maladjusted whining, manipulative machinations, etc., since any red-blooded right-winger would say that if you don’t distrust people with bad track records, and they end up hurting you, then you asked for it.  It’s all a question of what those who you know, want their track records to be.

Another good thing to keep in mind when discussing such things, is not to engage in maladjusted whining, or manipulative machinations to get people to feel sorry for you, or unforgiving judgments, or bitterness, or excuses for your own failures, etc.  When you consider how ready most Westerners are to condemn legitimate complaints as such things, just imagine how they’d react if this really is what you’re doing.  Also keep in mind other things that would keep communication going smoothly, such as not hitting below the belt by saying things intended to hurt that don’t really prove what you’re trying to prove, including some sincere compliments, not interrupting or refusing to listen (unless the other person keeps giving you mollycoddle labels, which is very likely with victim correction as a panacea), make sure that you stay logical and speak the truth, etc.  You might think that since you’re the victim you’re entitled to empathy, but to many, probably most. modern Westerners, being the victim means, at best, that you’ve got the burden of proof and that the person who was offensive is now the defendant so could seem like the poor li’l underdog who has rights, and, at worst, that holding you responsible for the outcome completely resolves the problem, since this would only be holding you personally responsible for your own welfare.  Therefore, you can’t afford to play any games.

 

 

 

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