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Attracting popularity and developing rapport

Author: Dr Simon Moss


Individuals often want to be perceived as likeable, trustworthy, and cooperative. These traits facilitate rapport and expedite the formation of relationships.

Preparation before meetings


Step 1. The night before a meeting with strangers or distant acquaintances, individuals should ensure their eyebrows are trimmed. Second, at least one hour before these meetings, they should identify an event in their life that promoted happiness. Perhaps they could imagine an unexpected prize or award. Third, immediately before this meeting, they should momentarily close their eyes and imagine this event vividly.

When individuals display a happy facial expression, they tend to be perceived as confident and assertive as well as friendly and sympathetic. Indeed, individuals who possess facial features that resemble a happy expression, such as high cheekbones, are often perceived as assertive and sympathetic even when they do not feel cheerful (Montepare & Dobish, 2003). In contrast, people who display an angry facial expression will tend to attack or undermine other individuals. Individuals with low, bushy eyebrows might also seem angry, even when they feel no rage (Montepare & Dobish, 2003).

Memories of past desirable events can evoke either happiness or nostalgia. Nostalgia has been shown to facilitate the formation of relationships (Wildschut, Sedikides, Routledge, Arndt, & Cordaro, 2010;& see Nostalgia)

Content of the conversation

Similarities in positive attitudes

Step 1. Discuss the objects, brands, policies, or activities you like, rather than dislike, with another person. Furthermore, whenever applicable, agree when the other person praises an object, brand, policy, or activity.

Individuals are obviously more inclined to trust someone who expresses similar, rather than different, opinions about some issue. More interestingly, however, is that individuals are more inclined to trust each other if they both like the same objects, brands, policies, or activities rather than dislike the same objects, brands, policies, or activities (Gershoff, Mukherjee, & Mukhopadhyay, 2007). That is, individuals can dislike some object, brand, policy, or activity for many reasons. Hence, two individuals could dislike something for different reasons. In contrast, to like some object, brand, policy, or activity, individuals must perceive every facet favorably.

Incidental remarks


Step 1. Whenever possible, use favorable terms, such as creative, honest, and understanding, when you describe other individuals who are not in the room;& these comments improve your reputation as well.

When employees describe another person who is absent, such as portraying this individual as "dishonest", they are more likely to be perceived as similar to this characteristic by listeners (Crawford,Skowronski, & Stiff, 2007). That is, if speakers use the term "dishonest", listeners will form a memory of this word. The memory of this word is then connected to some person. If the person who was described as dishonest is absent, listeners will, unconsciously, tend to connect this trait to the person who spoke.



Step 1. To foster cooperative relationships, occasionally, but subtly, mimic the posture and gestures of the individuals with whom you interact, such as customers, suppliers, and strategic allies. Specifically, mimic distinct gestures, such as foot movements or hand tapping, but for only a few minutes.

When an employee mimics the posture and gestures of a client or friend, this person is more likely to be supportive and cooperative during the next 15 minutes or so (Van Baaren, Holland, Kawakami, & van Knippenberg, 2004). In particular, individuals will occasionally mimic the posture and gestures of another person. For example, if individuals lean forwards or touch their face, the person to whom they are conversing might engage in the same behavior. An individual is more likely to mimic a person to whom they would like to form a supportive and trusting relationship. Therefore, if a person is mimicked, they spontaneously feel a sense of support and trust (see Mimicry).

Body position

Step 2. Do not, however, sit with your legs together and your hands rested on their thighs if the other individual assumes this posture. Likewise, do not sit with your legs apart or place an arm on the top of an empty chair if the other individual exhibits this posture.

Individuals who exhibit an unguarded posture, with their legs apart and one arm placed on the top of an empty chair, are unconsciously perceived as dominant and authoritative. Individuals who exhibit a cramped position, with their legs together and their hands rested on their thighs, are unconsciously perceived as submissive and accommodating. Usually, if one individual demonstrates dominance, the other person will tend to exhibit a submissive position. In these instances, both individuals feel comfortable and unthreatened. In contrast, sometimes both individuals will exhibit the same level of dominance. In these instances, individuals immediately feel uncomfortable (Tiedens & Fragale, 2003).

That is, throughout evolution, individuals who pertain to the same level of dominance were more likely to contest and compete with one another. Therefore, as a legacy of this evolution, individuals experience an involuntary sense of threat when they encounter other people who exhibit the same level of dominance.

Step 3. For the same reasons, frequently offer suggestions and advice, which represents a dominant tendency, if the other person is quiet or accommodating. Alternatively, act more accommodating, agreeable, and complimentary if the other seems dominant.

Physical contact

Step 1.Sometimes, individuals greet or meet a person in a setting that is not especially tense or important, such as a party or family function. In these settings, when individuals shake the hand of someone, they should ensure the handshake is relatively, but not unreasonably, firm, vigorous, and protracted. They should also direct their gaze to the eyes of the person whose hand they are shaking. In other words, they should develop the habit of shaking hands appropriately, initially in settings that are not especially stressful or threatening.

Over time, this handshake becomes natural. If they had to focus on shaking hand appropriately in stressful contexts, their attention might be distracted from other, more pressing issues.

Individuals whose handshake is relatively firm, vigorous, and protracted, directing their gaze to the eyes of the person whose hand they are shaking, are especially likely to be perceived as trustworthy and sociable (Stewart, Dustin, Barrick, & Darnold, 2008;& see also Chaplin, Phillips, Brown, Clanton, & Stein, 2000). A firm, vigorous, and protracted handshake usually instills a sense of contact or immediacy between the two individuals. This sense of immediacy is usually associated with warmth, closeness, and caring, instilling a feeling of trust (Astrom & Thorell, 1996;& Imada & Hakel, 1977). Because of this sense of connection, individuals perceive each other as more trustworthy and sociable.


Websites or brochures

Step 1. On websites or brochures, biographic information about relevant personnel is often provided. Each biography should be short rather than long, only specifying two or three traits or interests of this person. Similarly, when individuals meet a stranger, they should not specify too many of their interests or perspectives.

Individuals are less inclined to like someone they recently met if they know many, rather than few, facts about this person (Norton, Frost, & Ariely, 2006). Indeed, in one study, individuals received between four and ten adjectives about a stranger. They were more inclined to like a stranger if they received only four rather than ten adjectives. That is, when individuals have not received appreciable information about someone, they assume this person is similar to themselves. In addition, individuals tend to like anyone who is similar to themselves. As they receive more information about this person, differences become more apparent. Once individuals become aware of one obvious difference between themselves and this person, they become more sensitive to other disparities.

Related topics

For further insights, see:


Astrom, J. (1994). Introductory greeting behavior: A laboratory investigation of approaching and closing salutation phases. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 863-897.

Astrom, J., & Thorell, L. (1996). Greeting behavior and psychogenic need: Interviews on experiences of therapists, clergymen, and car salesmen. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 83, 939-956.

Chaplin, W. F., Phillips, J. B., Brown, J. D., Clanton, N. R., & Stein, J. L. (2000). Handshaking, gender, personality and first impressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 110-117.

Crawford, M. T., Skowronski, J. J., & Stiff, C. (2007). Limiting the spread of spontaneous trait transference. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 466-472.

Gershoff, A. D., Mukherjee, A., & Mukhopadhyay, A. (2007). Few ways to love, but many ways to hate: Attribute ambiguity and the positivity effect in agent evaluation. Journal of Consumer Research, 33, 499-505.

Imada, A. S., & Hakel, M. D. (1977). Influence of nonverbal communication and rater proximity on impressions and decisions in simulated employment interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 295-300.

Krumhuber, E., Manstead, S. R., & Kappas, A. (2006). Temporal aspects of facial displays in person and expression perception: The effects of smile dynamics, head-tilt, and gender. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 31, 39-56.

Montepare, J. M., & Dobish, H. (2003). The contribution of emotion perceptions and their overgeneralizations to trait impressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 7, 237-254.

Norton, M. I., Frost, J. H., & Ariely, D. (2006). Less is more: The lure of ambiguity, or why familiarity breeds contempt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 97-105.

Puccinelli, N. M., Tickle-Degnen, L., & Rosenthal, R. (2004). Effect of target position and target task on judge sensitivity to felt rapport. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 28, 145-165.

Srachman, A., & Gable, S. L. (2006). What you want (and do not want) affects what you see (and so not see): Avoidance social goals and social events. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1446-1458.

Stewart, G. L., Dustin, S. L., Barrick, M., & Darnold, T. C. (2008). Exploring the handshake in employment interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1139-1146.

Tiedens, L. Z., & Fragale, A. R. (2003). Power moves: Complementarity in dominant and submissive nonverbal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 558-568.

Van Baaren, R. B., Holland, R. W., Kawakami, K., & van Knippenberg, A. (2004). Mimicry and prosocial behavior. Psychological Science, 15, 71-74.

Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Routledge, C., Arndt, J., & Cordaro, F. (2010). Nostalgia as a repository of social connectedness: The role of attachment-related avoidance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 573-586.

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Last Update: 5/7/2016