Are you really listening? While speaking with others or listening to the radio or television, do you pay attention to the words and phrases people use? Try that. Try to identify their dominant modes. By modes, I mean visual, audio, or kinesthetic. Do they see things -- I see what you're saying, hear things -- I hear what you're saying, or feel things -- I feel that I have a grasp on what you are saying?
As you do, keep a running tally on words and phrases and which mode they represent. The Late Show with David Letterman or The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien gives you plenty of opportunities to observe speaking habits. Once you get used to paying attention to a stranger's speaking habits, you can easily go on to the people you know.
Now, once you've determined which mode the person is using to communicate, practice using the same words and phrases as that person in your conversations with him or her. You don't have to do it exactly. Stay in the same mode, but use different words. I see -- I view it this way. I hear -- that sounds right to me. I feel -- I'm touched by that.
Another way of gaining rapport is to practice active listening. Repeat what someone has just said to you -- as you understand it. Use that person's dominant perceptual mode as you do. If they said something important you don't fully understand, look for the hidden meaning. You do this by asking "What?" questions. Then vary it by asking "Why?" questions to determine the difference in responses.
Find someone you admire and show them the courtesy of listening. People love to be interesting, and if they have your full attention, they know you are listening. Guess what! If you are listening, they must be interesting!
Thanks for reading,