Pacing – Building Rapport

Pacing – Building Rapport

In order to communicate persuasively, it is important to establish rapport with your target. You want the target to feel that:

  • You understand him/her, and
  • That he/she can trust you.

Establishing rapport is very important for sales people, for physicians, as well as for romance.

There are many techniques for establishing rapport. Here I will present one such technique:


Pacing concentrates on spoken words. When you “pace” your target, you use exactly the same words he/she uses, in exactly the same order (if possible) when he/she is describing or talking something important.

Therefore, a prerequisite for applying this technique is active listening!

Here is an example:

A car dealer welcomes a customer, and after some friendly chit-chat, he asks the customer:

“What qualities in a car are the most important for you?”

Now the dealer must listen carefully! The customer says:

“Well, the car should, of course, be reliable. I depend on my car for my business, so I have to rely on it. Safety is also very important to me. I want to feel safe and secure, and I want my family to be safe. Of course, as a businessman, I also want the car to represent me as a successful businessman, so styling is important. Now, I don’t want to spend a great deal of money on some luxury car, but the car should show that I am a successful businessman.”

What are words that express qualities important to the customer (and in which order)? The most important (but not the only ones) are:

  • Reliable / rely
  • Business (businessman)
  • Safety / feel safe, secure
  • Family
  • Success

There are a few others one can use, but these seem to be the most important to the customer.

These are his “trance words” – he uses them without really thinking about them because they spring from his subconscious. They have deep meaning to him in this context.

So, the dealer nods his head, then says:

“So, just so I understand you, because I don’t want to waste your time showing you a car that is not what you are looking for…

“You want a reliable car because you’re a businessman and you have to rely on it. That makes sense. You’re also concerned with safety, not only for you but also for your family. You want to feel safe and secure. That’s important, of course. At the same time, the car should represent you well, without having to spend too much. As a businessman, it is important that clients and partners see you as a successful businessman, so the car should represent your success.

“Is that right?”

Now, you might think that would be obvious to the customer that the dealer is “parroting” him.

This is NOT the case. The customer will not notice the pacing!

In fact, on a subconscious level, the customer will feel:

“He is really listening to me!”


“He really understands me!”

As a result, the customer is now willing to trust the dealer and his recommendations.

The dealer now has every chance for making the sale – as long as he shows the customer the appropriate models and does not lose focus.

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