Steal this hack from Ted Lasso to quickly build rapport with anyone

Ted Lasso is dorky and anxious. No one would mistake him for an alpha male.

But if you met Ted in real life, it’d be hard not to like him.

No doubt you’d instantly strike up a great conversation, bond over something you both love, and walk away feeling a little warm and fuzzy from the whole thing.

And that’s a really, really powerful skill.

Imagine if you had the ability to build a strong connection with anyone. How would that impact your business and your life?

The truth is, most success is built on relationships. And relationships are built on how much we like someone.

So what is it about Ted Lasso that makes him so damn likable?

The surprising truth is that Ted’s charisma comes from his love for people. Let me explain.

Look for the good stuff

In the show’s first episode, Nathan, the groundsman, escorts Ted to the changerooms of Richmond FC for the first time.

Nathan is the kind of person that we’re all guilty of brushing off. He’s shy, awkward, and holds a low-status job in the team.

But as they walk down the hall, Ted says “What’s your name, by the way?”

“My name?” Nathan says, stopping in his tracks.

“No-one ever asks my name…”

This short exchange reveals Ted’s greatest asset: he actually cares about other people.

Ted’s genuine interest in others helps him build valuable relationships with almost anyone he meets.

We see this throughout the show — with the steely Roy Kent, the reluctant Rebecca, and the difficult Jamie Tart.

All these people throw up their walls but are ultimately disarmed by Ted’s genuine interest in them.

And that genuine interest forges valuable relationships that underpin Ted’s success.

The science of popularity

The effectiveness of Ted’s enthusiasm isn’t just an aspiration of American TV. It’s science, man.

As mentioned in a previous post, research suggests that popular people are more attuned to other people.

Charismatic people are hyper-aware of social signals, hierarchy, and relationships.

In other words, popular people tend to like lots of people.

If you think about any truly popular person you know, you’ll see what I mean.

Well-networked, successful people, who are invited to high-status social events and clued in to the big deals in any industry, are more likely to enjoy the company of a range of people.

It’s not that they like everyone. The point is that they can effectively build connections with anyone by displaying genuine interest.

Interest in practice

Here are three practical ways you can apply the principle of genuine interest to quickly build rapport:

1. Embrace curiosity

One of the loveable things about Ted is that he is truly curious about other people’s lives. You see it in the questions he asks and his body language when he’s listening:

The curious mindset will help you get the most from people. If you really want to learn about someone, if you approach every conversation with a curious mindset, you’ll quickly show your interest and forge a strong connection.

2. Look for passion points or hot buttons

Everybody has a topic, hobby, passion, or interest that gets them excited. If you can uncover these hot buttons in conversation, you’ll put yourself on the highway to building rapport.

Ted is great at finding passion points in other people — check out his banter with Coach Beard or his connection with Rebecca over cookies.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to avoid small talk and instead go for big hypothetical questions. For example:

  • If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do for work?
  • If you were the king of the world, what would you change about XYZ?

3. Don’t be afraid to compliment

In general, people are surprisingly bad at complementing each other. This is especially true in business contexts.

Maybe we don’t want to be suck-ups, or maybe it’s just not common practice, but all too often, we’re afraid to compliment each other — even for good work.

But there is great power in complimenting somebody on the things you find genuinely interesting about them.

This is my favorite Ted Lasso compliment:

“This woman right here is strong, confident, and powerful. Boss, I tell ya, I’d hate to see you and Michelle Obama arm wrestle, but I wouldn’t be able to take my eyes off it, either.”

Obviously, it doesn’t have to be this extravagant. It’s simply about noticing the things you like about people and saying them out loud. A little bit goes a long way.

Wrap up

I’ve been down this rabbit hole of popular social psychology, learning about what makes people charismatic and likeable, and thinking about how this might impact career success.

The most fascinating thing I’ve learned is the simplicity of it all:

We all have the tools to build rapport, create great relationships, and forge valuable connections.

All we need to do is show a bit of love. That genuine interest in others goes a long, long way.

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Sam Duncan

Sam Duncan

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