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FBI agent secrets on how to gain anyone's trust

by - 20 February

It’s not often you get the chance to interview an FBI agent. Robin Dreeke is a 28-year veteran of federal service. He served most recently as a senior agent in the FBI, with 20 years of experience. He was, until recently, the head of the Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, where his primary mission was to thwart the efforts of foreign spies, and to recruit American spies. His core approach in this mission was to inspire reasonable, well-founded trust among people who could provide valuable information. 
In his book It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone he spells out methods for connecting with people.
Here are the top 5 of them:
1. Establish artificial time constraints 
Nobody wants to feel trapped in an awkward conversation with a stranger. Robin often begins a conversation with something along the lines of “I’m on my way out but before I left I wanted to ask you…”
The first step in the process of developing great rapport and having great conversations is letting the other person know that there is an end in sight, and it is really close.
2. Make Sure Your Body Language is In Sync
Make sure your words and body language are aligned and both are non-threatening. A simple smile is the most powerful nonverbal technique.
3. Speak Slowly 
When individuals speak slowly and clearly, they tend to sound more credible than those who speak quickly.
4. Ask For Help
When a request is small, we naturally feel a connection to those who ask us for help. 
5. Suspend Your Ego
Avoid correcting people or anything that could be interpreted as one-upmanship. Just listen. You don’t need to tell your story; just encourage them to keep telling theirs.

Read my interview with Robin here:

Where is the intersection between working as an FBI agent and being an expert in interpersonal relations? 
Great question. I first need to state that my answers are my thoughts and opinions alone and not of the FBI.
The intersection between my work and my area of focus in interpersonal relations is the same that anyone has between their own work and personal life. Anytime that you have two or more people engaged in any sort of relationship the skills in interpersonal relations are universal.
I start any interaction with anyone the same way. First, I try to help the other individual identify what their goals, objectives, and priorities are. I then try to help them achieve them. It is really that simple. The greatest challenge however is to not allow own own ego to get in the way.

How does your work help you to better understand people and to gain their trust?
My work gave me the time to focus on the science behind basic human motivations. In every interaction I strategize, whether at work or personally, I think in terms of "how to get the other person's brain to reward them chemically for engaging with me?"

You were a Head of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Program. How your techniques were applied in your work? 
The first step I use in any situation is to try to understand non-judgmentally how the other individual sees the word through their context and why they may have made the choices they have. This goes for any situation. At our core as human beings, we want to be accepted and validated non-judgmentally for who we are. Just this first step helps establish trust. We tend to trust people more who don't judge us.
Why “it’s not all about me”? 
I chose the title because I need the constant reminder that people care more about themselves and their own wants, dreams, and aspirations, than mine. Once I can put my own need for self-validation aside and put someone else's first, trust and rapport will build more quickly.  It's also something my wife reminds my of everyday :)
What’s the most important things we have to remember when establishing any kind of relations? 
I think its always best to always ask yourself, "what is the other person gaining from the relationship with me?" If you are not benefiting their life in some way, why should they want to continue to engage with you? If we are focused on our own goals and objectives without considering this first question, the relationship will not proceed.
What are the biggest fears of people when building contacts? 
People's initial fears when establishing first contact tend to be these, "Who is this person? What do they want? When are they leaving?" I try to craft my first few words to answer these questions straight away.
What are the biggest barriers by establishing trust? 
The biggest barrier is putting your own goals and priorities ahead of the other person's. People recognize this rapidly, whether consciously or unconsciously and will not trust the other person because they can tell they "have an agenda."
And what are the easiest ways to lose trust? 
Lie! Once someone is caught in a lie or deception trust is gone, maybe forever depending on the situation and type of relationship. The second way is to continually put your needs above others.
How introvert people can become more confident and successful in their 
relationships at work and with friends? 
Introverts tend to be great listeners already. Take the initiative and ask a thought or opinion about someone, then follow up with open ended non-judgmental questions. When using these techniques the other person is doing most of the talking, just take the initiative to engage someone new. That can be a great challenge for anyone.
You were in charge of many people as a commander. What did you learn 
about leadership? What’s the formula for a better communication with your 
Everything I currently utilize came from my earlier days as a young leader. The most important thing I learned was that the day I decided to become a leader was the day I decided it was all about everyone else and not me. Great leaders are selfless and put the needs of their people first. The rest of my life has been a journey of continually fine tuning the skills that accomplish just that. I know some people naturally born with the skill while others like myself had to learn it.
How your techniques can be used for increasing sales or employment 
engagement, etc.? 
Make it about the other person, their goals, their desires, what they hope to gain from the situation. Seek the thoughts and opinions of those you are engaging with. Then you can align what you have to offer with those ideas and opinions. Don't judge responses. If you don't happen to agree, explore why they happen to think a certain way... again, non-judgmentally.
Science has demonstrated that we talk about our own priorities approximately %40 of every day and when we do so our brain rewards us chemically for doing so. Suspend your own need to do so and give your 40% to the other person and rapport, trust, and influence will build.

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