Last month, we began to talk a bit about the sociological process involved in very quickly establishing rapport with a new client–or completely blowing it–in the first four minutes. Here are four easy steps to help hurdle those barriers.

1. Convey self-esteem
Have you met people who seem very apologetic during a first meeting or those who play the role of a martyr, drawing your sympathy? Relationships are not built on sympathy, they are built on self-confidence. I recently listened to recorded cold call and referral sales approaches which missed this communication element. I heard: “Sorry to interrupt you today” and “Are you busy right now?” Many of these phrases are made even worse by a non-assertive voice. But if you instead speak with confidence, assuming that a prospect is interested in you and what you have to say, you can get past the four-minute barrier.

2. Communicate creatively
Creativity in building a relationship can mean using humor appropriately. I once was called by a telephone salesperson who was trying to sell commodities futures. I said, “I don’t like to invest money without seeing the broker face to face.” He then replied, “I can’t see you face to face, I’m too homely.” I laughed. He bought more time.

3. Convey empathy
You probably already know how to build trust by reinforcing a conversation with “I know how you feel,” and “I bet you really appreciated that.” But have you ever had an interchange with someone who seemed to look at everyone and everything around the room except you? Very few listeners display total attention. Staying with your prospect’s train of thought is a very important element in building a relationship.

4. Add reassurance
If you want to get past the barrier, you’ll strive to help your contacts feel just a little bit better about themselves than when you met. The relationship builder leaves others feeling good. You need to
remember that the person you are relating to also has fears, dreams, hopes, worries and insecurities, just like you. To get over relationship barriers you need to treat your prospect or client as an individual with a fragile ego, as fragile as yours. If he senses reassuring, considerate and confident emotions from you, he’ll drop his defenses. If he senses a guarded, over-confident critic, he’ll close you out quicker than Don Rickles.