It's Not About You

Sep 19, 2017

By Paddy Steinfort

FBI = Four Big Intentions.

As the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program within the Counterintelligence Division, Robin Dreeke was often in charge of getting information from people who had a good reason not to give it to him.

Over 15 years of experience in getting unsavory characters to reveal important information to him, and subsequent research into a topic he was super curious about, he drilled it down to a very simple question that people often asked him:

How can you build rapport quickly, and make it easier for people to trust you?

It’s not about you.

You read right. The simplest way to think about it is to make the conversation all about the other person. From sales situations, to management discussions, to marriage counseling, all sorts of research points to the same thing.

The FBI uses four basic aims throughout an entire operation, all focused on making the target of the questioning feel like they are the ones getting something from the conversations.

1) Make it all about them.

2) Put their wants and needs ahead of yours.

3) Empower them with choices that will satisfy their wants and needs.

4) Suspend your own ego and validate them.

Two Steps

The psychology literature has an even easier way to act in line with these four FBI concepts that comes from marriage research. At the University of Washington, researchers have studied couples for decades.  Researchers bring couples into the room they affectionately call the “Love Lab”, and find that couples that respond in a certain way to each other have much stronger relationships. Researchers can predict divorce in four years with 83-93% accuracy just by observing how they talk.

In separate research, Dr. Shelly Gable broke it down to two simple components of communicating about good stuff. When one partner comes home and shares news about getting promoted at work, how does the other partner react?  Gable found that how people respond to good news significantly predicts the quality of the relationship.

One Good Thing.

The easiest way to start building rapport is find something positive, good or simply interesting in that person’s world – and then amplify it for them. Active Constructive Responding is the name for the process, where you actively listen by attending to the positive elements of what the other person is telling you, and you build on that for them by asking questions that open them up to tell you more. Here’s an example:

Your significant other comes home (or your close friend calls on the phone) with the news, “I just got promoted.”

Under the 2 different dimensions (Active & Constructive), there are four ways that you could react to this news:

Active Constructive: “Great! Tell me more... How’d you hear the news?  What will be new?”

Passive Constructive: “Really? That’s good.”  (Little emotion)

Active Deconstructive: “Well, you know that means you’ll be away from home more…”

Passive Constructive: “Can we talk about what happened to me today?”

FBI Training For You

The good news is, all of the research suggests this is absolutely a learned – and therefore trainable – skill. Try it this week by saying, “What else happened?” (active)  “Can we celebrate?” (active) “What about this is most exciting to you?” (constructive, building on this news).


FOUR: Intentions 

TWO: Steps

ONE: Good thing 

Author: Paddy Steinfort



Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sed sapien quam. Sed dapibus est id enim facilisis, at posuere turpis adipiscing. Quisque sit amet dui dui.

Call To Action

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.