Let’s begin with a basic premise. “When people are in rapport, they behave the same. When they are out of rapport they behave differently.” (The Chameleon Effect)

Have you ever met someone for the first time and for some reason you weren’t comfortable interacting with him or her and couldn’t figure out what it is about them that made you feel that way? Even to this day, you still cannot figure out what it is about them that makes you uncomfortable interacting with them. It could be in their voice or something in their demeanor that you are reacting to in this way.

  • Are your prospects feeling the same way?

Now let’s change this scenario; have you ever met someone for the first time and later on you found out you left an impression with them you did not intend to leave and were genuinely surprised at their reaction to you as a result of that interaction? Of course you have; it has happened to all of us at some point in time in our career. Again, it could have been the tone of your voice or your overall demeanor when you interacted with them.

  • People react more to your overt behavior than what you are actually saying.

“It is not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages.” – William Carlos Williams, American poet, early 1900s

The technique I want to discuss is called pacing. Pacing comes from studies done in neurophysiology. In other words, how we as individuals internally process information, our experiences, and finally, our reactions. Remember, the purpose of communication is to elicit a reaction from the person we are interacting with. These studies have demonstrated that only 7% of communication is the spoken word, 38% is vocal expression or the tone of our voice, and 55% is physiology–that is our posture, gestures, and facial expression. This means that as much as 93% of communication is outside of awareness.

We like people like ourselves and to that end, the skill of PACING will help you to communicate more effectively with difficult and challenging prospects and customers and have your communication more readily accepted. It is a way of saying: I’m like you without having to say it. It communicates a common experience with the prospect or customer; that is, how you both communicate is similar.

When you use the technique of pacing, you will develop a deep level of rapport with others and with practice, you can do it instantly and with minimal effort.

The most common results reported to us by sales representatives that put the skill of PACING into practice is they now get more time with tough to see customers. One sales representative recently reported they had a prospect that would patiently listen to his presentation even though she would not say much or engage him in conversation. He discovered that when he paced her she began to open up, talk to him and become more involved in the discussion. Also, the prospect made the comment to the sales representative, “why have you not told me this information before?” Even though the sales representative had been stating the information to the customer for the past six months!

PACING creates an environment where the prospect or customer is more comfortable during the interaction and results in the prospect or customer being more attentive to what is being discussed.

The technique of PACING is to match the customer’s vocal expression (verbal behavior) and physiology (non-verbal behavior).

So, how do you do it instantly? PACE the prospect’s:

1. Voice,by matching their:

  • Rate of speech,
  • Volume level,
  • Intonation (voice fluctuation vs. monotone),
  • Tone of their voice,
  • and cadence (rhythm at which they speak).

2. And their non-verbal behaviorby matching their:

  • Posture,
  • Hand gestures,
  • and demeanor.

To practice PACING, start with the voice. It is the quickest way to rapport. Begin with rate of speech and volume; they are the easiest to pace. Either increase or decrease your rate and volume to match that of the customer’s. There may be times when the person you are matching is outside your normal speaking range. They may have a very high pitch or very low pitch. Practice by matching the person within what’s high or low for your normal range. Practice matching one aspect of another person’s communication behavior everyday.

  • Remember, all the prospect knows is: Am I comfortable talking with you or am I uncomfortable talking with you?

You control it!