One of the common traits of successful influencers is their ability to instantly read their customers and adapt their communication style to suit that of the client.

Once I was coaching someone who was seeking to influence the senior partner in an accounting firm. The consultant’s natural style was extrovert, chatty and very positive.

When the accountant arrived in the room he was sober suited, controlled, precise and unemotional. In short the stereotypical analytical accountant profile.

As I watched, the consultant attempted to build rapport using a warm, friendly, exuberant style which completely failed to win over his client. The harder our enthusiastic consultant tried to win friends and influence people the more irritated the accountant became.

While all this was going on I was sitting at the table observing and taking notes as a coach (with the accountants permission.

After the meeting was over and we were back in the car I asked the consultant how he thought the meeting had gone. To his credit he was realistic and said that it had not gone well and that he felt that he had little in rapport with his prospective client. When I asked why he thought this might be, he just looked at my blankly.

When I started to draw his attention to their differing social styles, the lights started to come on and he understood where he was going wrong. In the next call he paid much more attention to the clients style and toned down his own behaviours to better match those of his prospect. The result, was instant rapport, much better fact finding and a potential sale.

How good are you at reading others and meeting them in their own style first?

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