2 Foolproof Ways to Instantly Win Anyone Over, According to a Former FBI Agent

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May 30, 2024 at 12:57PM UTC
Building trust is the key to becoming more influential at work. Strong rapport makes someone more likely to say 'yes' to your ideas, to tap you on the shoulder for projects or to share inside information. And who knows how to build trust better than an FBI negotiator? 
In a recent MasterClass covered by Inc., former FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss introduced two proven tactics for building trust with someone immediately: mirroring and labeling. 

We've broken down how you can employ both strategies to build more trusting relationships in your workplace — and win over important stakeholders. 

1. Mirroring 

To "mirror" someone in conversation means to repeat back words they've said to them in a casual way later in the conversation. It makes the person feel like they're listening and that you've thought about and understand what they're trying to say. It can be especially helpful in tense situations because the feeling of collaboration can help diffuse negative feelings. 
Voss suggests repeating back one, two or three words from each passage your conversation partner says to use mirroring most effectively. 

2. Labeling 

To "label" is to give verbal acknowledgement to your conversation partner's opinion or feelings by repeating back what you understand them to be saying or experiencing. Generally, labeling in a conversation starts with a phrase like "I think you mean..." or "It seems like you feel..." This can diminish negative feelings by making your counterpart feel listened to and carefully considered, and can reinforce positive feelings by making you appear both attentive and empathetic. 
At their best, mirroring and labeling are used together to reinforce you are approaching a conversation as a collaborative effort. They are also used most effectively when they prompt your conversation partner to share more about themselves. It's an old adage that the conversations people enjoy most are the ones where they get to talk about themselves — that holds just as true in the workplace. 

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