Sidney C. Walker
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February 2006


by Sidney C. Walker



Repeating back other people's exact words instead of using your own words is a powerful rapport builder. Even though two people speak the same language in general terms doesn't mean that they would use the same words to describe the same situation. If you take five people who all witnessed a car crash followed by an explosion and you ask them all to describe what they saw, you are going to get a wide variety of words used to describe the same event. We are all actually speaking a little different language because we all have different backgrounds, training, and life experiences.


Furthermore, whatever words people use to describe something can have a lot of meaning to them. There can be many hundreds, even thousands, of pieces of information attached to the meaning of a single word. So if you change the words your prospective clients use and use your own, it is not likely to have the same meaning and you will have lost a level of rapport.


Early in my sales career I had the habit of changing the words that other people would use to describe what they wanted and using my own words. My words made more sense to me, so I figured they would make more sense to my prospective clients.


The problem was that I understood better what I was talking about, but they didn't know what I meant by the words I was using. I could clearly feel that I was taking something away from our rapport when I would repeat back my words rather than theirs. Then one day I stumbled onto the idea of using other people's words exactly as they said them - and the difference was phenomenal.


The above is from my book: How to Double Your Sales by Asking a Few More Questions: Making More Sales by Helping People Get What THEY Really Want.

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