by David Truman

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All of us who know David well are impressed by his easy rapport with people from all walks of life. Wanting to enjoy such richness in our own interactions, we asked him, "How do you relate to people so well?" This article is his answer to that question. It will tell you how you, too, can enjoy fantastic rapport with people.

David: Many people think good rapport comes from studying other people. That's not the approach that yields the results I create. My rapport starts from understanding myself.

Embrace Yourself Fully

You've heard the admonition, "Know thyself." To know yourself deeply, and accept yourself accurately, puts you in touch with the various parts of human nature. Then you also recognize those deeper springs of humanity in others.

You see, to have good rapport with others, we need access to parts of humanity that, presently, we may not quite want to be, think we should be, or even like to believe that we are. When we open those doors in ourselves, we can open those doors in others -- and we can walk into the hearts of others in a spirit of true affinity, true unity, true identification.

Like a piano, every person has a lot of keys to play on. And all people have an equivalent range of keys. Have you appreciated and played on all your own keys -- or do you avoid some, and play mostly on others (the safer keys, perhaps?). With respect to that:

• The only keys you can play on another person are the keys you can play -- or have played -- on yourself.

• The only notes and themes you can truly and adequately appreciate in others are the ones you truly appreciate in yourself.

Facing your own personal patterns can help greatly with rapport. When you see another person manifesting some pattern you have faced in yourself, you can easily understand it. If, for example, you've ever been defensive, or stubborn, and you see someone doing that same thing, you can understand what they're feeling, identify with them, and have compassion for them. And if they're open to it, you might even be able to help them deal with those difficult feelings -- all from your experience of handling them in yourself.

Whether we want to admit it or not, each of us has considerable understanding of our own neuroses, social mistakes, and the like. Often, ironically, we tend to be less willing to acknowledge and understand many essentially positive things we have in common with other people. Taboos come and go in cycles, and the "soft" and feeling parts of human nature are the current "taboos" -- things that people fear in themselves. For example, our own healthy needs for love, for understanding, for life. Our sensitivity, passion, vulnerability, dependence, caring. The trouble is, those things are the basic common ground of positive human qualities and needs. If we fear those things, we may find it nearly impossible to bridge to others.

Most of us frequently encounter in others things we can't face in ourselves. Granted, people sometimes try to solve that problem with double standards: "I love so-and-so's emotion, but I don't particularly like that kind of emotion in myself." That's an impossible contradiction. It's like a man who wants a woman to be emotionally open to him even while he still tends to believe that emotions are silly. He cannot possibly value emotion in her until and unless he values it in himself. It's the same with every quality we fear in ourselves: If what we can face in ourselves is miniscule, then the aspects we can handle in others will be miniscule. It will always be the exact same slice that we can deal with in ourselves.

This, then, is the first secret of my "social success":

Embrace yourself IN TOTO.

A true embrace of others results from recognizing, accepting, and loving in them things that you've been willing to see, accept, and love in yourself. As you happily embrace the positive parts of yourself you've tried to hide, you will have a social experience more like mine.

The usual approach amounts to trying to get to know them fully, and trying to accept them decently, even while, in fact, you still do not know and accept yourself. That can't work, and now you know why.

Open Up to Them (and They'll Open Up to You)

Openness is being who you are with people, and being open to who they are. It is a two-way street. If you want people to be open with you, you must be open with them.

Openness is like a pipe. Just as water can flow through a pipe in either direction, openness flows both ways. Much of the emotional depth that I find and relate to in people is, in reality, their response to my openness. It is largely a result of that response that there is so much in them that I alone get to see. What you are willing to share, you can receive from others.

Think of it this way: You would be disappointed if someone wanted to hear all about you, but wouldn't tell you anything about themselves. And you'd also be disappointed if someone were to talk incessantly about themselves and ask nothing about you. Clearly, then, one-way openness is unnatural. That's why no one will open up very much, or stay open for very long, under one-way conditions.

The opening through which we give is the opening through which we receive. See how that works in practice: If you protect yourself by carefully not sharing certain qualities, you will never bring out certain responses from others. But if I had a week to be with any person, they would most likely be more of themselves with me than they'd ever been with anyone. Many other people could be around them forever and never elicit such a response. That's because I freely and honestly express my own feelings.

So this is my second secret:

To the extent that you open up and share yourself
with others, they will naturally tend to do the same.

Granted, not always will people allow that natural response in themselves. But the tendency is there, and it's quite strong. So . . .

To the extent that you give from yourself whatever you want access to in others, you will elicit from them the deeper kinds of things I bring out in people.

The only fruitful and meaningful approach to connecting with someone is an internal approach, in which you:

1. Face/embrace in yourself what you would like to see in them, and

2. Share what you are openly with them.

Stand in Their Shoes

"It takes one to know one."

Every human being is qualified to understand other human beings.

If it's a human emotion, you can understand it,
because you ARE a human being.

As human beings, we all have a lot in common. Any human being can honestly say, "I know how human beings feel, because I am a human being." And that fact gives every human being the perfect resource for rapport building: empathy.

For example, imagine someone feels invalidated. Well, we all know a lot about feeling invalidated. And what if they're being ignored? We know that feeling, too. We're specialists on what it feels like to be ignored! In fact, we're specialists on just about every human feeling in the book, because we've had them all. We've been left out, included, criticized, invalidated, and bored, and everything else. We even recognize various flavors of each feeling -- for example, wrongly complimented, correctly complimented, ingratiatingly complimented, manipulatively complimented -- we know them all. We know the many shades of happy, the many shades of sad.

The secret of identifying with others

Although human responses vary, responses follow familiar patterns. So much so that anyone can easily put the shoe on the other foot and walk a mile in the other guy's moccasins -- if they want to. But it's amazing how many people fail to apply what they know about their own human emotions to others. You see, people are able to put themselves in someone else's position and to feel what others feel, but they are not necessarily willing to do so. Why not? The insufficient ingredient in that equation is love.

Caring is what allows me to actively identify with others. Love. Love drives me to be close to their hearts. And I'm not talking about romantic love; rapport doesn't depend on that. I'm talking about caring: sincerely caring about a person's feelings and well-being. I connect well with people not because I value rapport as a thing in itself, but because I care about them. I value the person.

So this is my third and final secret to rapport:

Care enough to stand in the other person's
shoes, and see through his or her eyes.

As long as you see yourself in others, you will relate to them beautifully. Essentially, I feel/know I am them. So I understand them not just from outside, but from within.

Now, don't worry about whether you care enough. To the extent that you're willing to know yourself and accept yourself, you know that you care plenty. And therefore, to the extent you are willing to be yourself, you will demonstrate how much you truly do care. In this sense, we could truly say, being yourself is the key to great rapport with others.

Rapport starts with us

Rapport is all about who we are, and being who we are with others. To the extent that you know yourself, accept yourself, and are willing to be yourself, you can relate deeply with the people you encounter in life. And the fact that you care about them gives you the motivation to do it.

So, for beautiful rapport, see and accept the beauty in yourself -- and openly be that beauty with others. And rest assured that part of your true beauty is what will allow you do these things: you care.   

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