The Secret to Building Non-Verbal Rapport

The ability to quickly establish and deepen rapport is one of the most important skills you can develop in your legal marketing toolbox. From making a strong favorable impression upon meeting a new prospective client or referral source to cultivating trust with key stakeholders on a complex project, your on-going success is as dependent on interpersonal dynamics as it is on the technical expertise you bring to the table. The same can be said, of course, for anyone you want to influence during a face-to-face meeting.

And this is where attention to non-verbal behavior comes in. Language – the words and tone we use – makes up only half of any in-person communication. Body language is the other half and it contributes significantly (if unconsciously) to the development of rapport.

Here’s an easy way to practice building non-verbal rapport. It’s called “mirroring” and it’s a function of our basic psychological makeup. The closer someone mirrors our own body language, the more comfortable we tend to feel in the moment with that person. Again, it’s unconscious, but it’s real and it’s powerful.

As you’re in meetings this week try paying attention to the person’s posture. How is the person with whom you’re meeting sitting at the table? Are they upright, close to the table, materials neatly in front of them? Or are they leaning back more comfortably with the chair pushed away from the table? Are their hands folded resting the table? Do they gesture with their hands a lot?

Just notice how they are being, physically — their posture and body language. Then, without forcing it, try mirroring their basic non-verbal style (i.e., how they’re sitting).

Far from being manipulative or cynical, mirroring is awareness in action. As this rapport-building behavior becomes second nature, you’ll advance relationships faster — and ultimately close more deals sooner.

About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Law Firm Coach and Consultant

Bill Jawitz has been coaching lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

He can be reached at or at 203.806.1300.

I maintain a deep library of hundreds of best-of-breed checklists, templates, guides, and white papers on every aspect of managing a legal practice and law firm, from lawyer marketing plans, to hiring process checklists, to alternative fee engagement letters.

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