So I should just interrupt?

Crazy as it may sound, yep!

According to the authors of Getting to Yes, a great way to demonstrate that you are indeed keyed in to the point the other party to the conversation is making, to prove your interest and empathy, the authors recommend “interrupting” with a question now and then. The book is mainly about negotiating, but as I’m sure you know if you’re out there in the field, negotiating and selling are all about influence, and successful influence is a function of rapport! The authors suggest this as a brilliant way to go about building rapport. The way I’ve just described it may not sound like very tactful way to make a conversation flow, so you may just have to try this for yourself.

For example…

Imagine you and someone you meet are talking about hometowns. You can really show the other person how closely you’re listening by asking what their hometown is near, or by seeking clarification by asking if it is near a particular town you name. That may at first feel like a subtle interruption, but it actually demonstrates that you’re actively listening and are genuinely concerned about what they’re saying. The more specific and original your question is, the greater the potential rapport.

It would feel like an interruption to the other person, however, if you derailed them by talking about yourself! Anything other than something that makes the other party in the conversation less the star is a bad idea. The more time you invest in what is of interest to them, the greater the relationship dividends you’ll reap.

So get the other person talking, let them talk, and assertively take an interest in what they are saying through the questions you ask. Even if it at first feels like you’re interrupting. You’ll not only learn a lot more about them and gain rapport a lot faster, you’ll probably find yourself a lot more interested in the conversation!