Maintain Rapport and Gain Distance From A Close Talker
How do you feel about close talkers? Your answer may depend on who the close talker is and how much rapport they have with you? Have you ever struggled to stay in a conversation with a close talker even when it’s an important client?
In the last couple of weeks, this question of how to maintain rapport and get some distance has come up a few times. One of the people asking was my 10-year-old niece. She’s started a new school and there is a girl in her class invading her personal space whenever they’re in a conversation. My niece wanted to know if it was ok to just yell, “Beep, beep, beep” and back away slowly. ?
Another instance was a woman who didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings and yet when someone is too close, she struggles to stay in the conversation. It requires too much energy and she finds it disruptive to her thinking pattern. She becomes overly focused on how close the other person is to her.
It’s important to note that however big your personal space bubble is, you should give yourself permission to speak up when someone’s making you feel uncomfortable. Your body, your rules. With that said, sometimes it’s smart to have a subtle way to put some distance between you and the other person and still maintain the rapport.
The Subtle Technique
The suggestion I gave my client is the same advice I gave my niece. When you want to maintain rapport and put distance between yourself and a close talker do this:
- Face the close talker
- Take a step back on one foot
- Leave the other foot out in front of you
- Shift your weight to your back foot and lean back slightly
- Continue on with the conversation as if nothing has changed
It’s unlikely the close talker will get any closer to you than your front foot. This gives you some space and hopefully some breathing room. The stance may feel a little awkward and yet it sends a subtle message to the close talker. You may even find the close talker gets the signal and backs up just a bit more.
When you send these subtle nonverbal cues in a conversation, it’s important to maintain your friendly demeanor. This lets the other person know you’re still engaged and interested in the conversation and in them as a person.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.
Wishing you continued success this week.
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