The ability to build rapport with others is often seen as a mysterious skill to those who don’t have it.
Many people have a hard time connecting with and building relationships easily with others.
They’re often frustrated that communication isn’t as easy as they’d like it to be.
The ability to build rapport can seem elusive for many. It seems that only those with certain charisma or charm can do it.
But actually, it can be learned.
There are simple-to-use techniques that can actually help you connect more easily with others.
But these rapport-building secrets are easy to learn and best of all, you can start using them right away.
But before getting into just how to build rapport, let’s look at why it can be such a valuable skill…
The Value of Building Rapport
Imagine if you could easily connect with others when you first meet them. Picture yourself effortlessly engaging and making a positive first impression every time, no matter what the situation.
This skill would be a superpower that you could use in job interviews, working with a new team and even networking.
By creating rapport, you can make a connection with someone in a way that makes communicating and relating easier.
When you build rapport with someone, you create a sense of trust and comfort. They get the sense that you understand them, and they’re more open in communications with you.
If you need to negotiate, persuade or get buy-in on ideas, rapport can help you succeed. It’s also helpful for effective communication, building relationships with co-workers, and solving a conflict.
Even if you want to just build friendships and connections, using rapport-building techniques can help you more easily do so.By creating rapport, you can make a connection with someone in a way that makes communicating and relating easier.Click To Tweet
How to Build Rapport
Here are a few techniques that you can start using right away.
They may feel a bit awkward at first. It might seem obvious that you’re doing them. But don’t worry. It’s not. And over time it will become more natural for you.
You’ll see an increased ability to connect more easily with others.
After a while, you’ll see you can use these techniques to genuinely connect and to understand others better.
Five Tools to Build Rapport
1. Finding Common Ground
When you first meet someone you want to bond with look for clues for something you both have in common. Learn what you can about the other person so that you can connect on that item. It may be that you went to the same college, or your kids go to the same school, or you share a similar hobby. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience that you can both relate to.
Example: I know a project manager who was having trouble connecting with her customers on a particular project. She sensed resistance and doubt from them.
She wanted to build more trust with the customer and struggled with how to do it.
After a meeting one day, she stayed after to talk with a primary stakeholder after everyone else had left the room. She disclosed that before she worked at the company she was a customer and found some of the services a bit confusing.
She shared her frustration over the situation and how she solved the problem with help from customer service.
The customer disclosed that she’d been confused too and seemed to warm to the project manager. After this conversation, she was more cooperative and open.
Sharing the story of a common experience helped build the relationship, which in turn helped with the business partnership between the company and the client.
2. Physical Mirroring
Physical mirroring is using your body to match the body language of your conversation partner.
Use the same body postures and gestures. If they lean forward on the conference table, lean forward. If they nod or tilt their head, do the same.
You can do the same with facial expressions. If they furrow their brow in concentration, you could do the same.
Example: Years ago, I worked as a family coach. I met at-risk families in their homes. They were naturally cautious at first of this stranger in their house. I had to build trust quickly.
During the first few visits, I sat and talked with the family about their challenges and problems. While talking, I mirrored their body language. If they leaned back in their chairs, I did the same. If they nodded as they spoke to me, I did the same. Not to the degree of being creepy – a bit more subtle than that. But enough for them to feel like they could connect with me better.
It helped them relax more around me and we connected more quickly. I was shocked at how well this worked at first and recommend you give it a try.
3. Verbal Matching and Mirroring
Match the tone and tempo of your conversation partner and repeat the last few words. It confirms to the other person that you’ve heard them and that you’re listening, and gives the sense that you’re in sync with them.
Example: If you have a customer on the phone who is frustrated that a product delivery isn’t going well, and she’s speaking frantically, you can match her speed and tone of speech. This gives her the sense that you’re on the same wavelength and in sync with her.
If a customer is speaking slowly about her confusion over how the software workflow functions, match her speed and speak more slowly. This will help her feel more connected to you in the conversation. She’ll feel like you “get” her and will help you build more trust.
If you meet someone who greets you with a lighthearted sense of humor, you can respond in kind.
If they make a good-natured joke about something, acknowledge and laugh, rather than taking a serious tone.
It will pave the way for banter and connection more easily.
Find a style of humor that works for you and feels natural. Don’t make cruel jokes at anyone’s expense but stay positive.
Example: I met with a new well-established team and would be working closely with them for several months on a software implementation. While others on the team knew each other and had strong connections, I was the outsider.
I took time up front to engage in small talk. We engaged in lighthearted jokes about various things and spent some time developing rapport before getting down to work.
It helped develop a sense of connection with the team that made working together more fun and collaborative as we moved forward.
Empathy is understanding something from the other person’s perspective. It can be very powerful in building rapport but takes more work.
It requires that you use good listening skills and utilize your emotional intelligence.
Yet it will give you more insight and understanding and will help build trust.
Example: When working with a customer who wants a software feature delivered sooner than it can be, it can be helpful to use empathy to let the customer know you understand her frustrations.
This doesn’t mean you can do everything she asks. But letting her know that you understand her feelings can help build trust.
Rapport is a valuable tool that can not only increase trust and understanding, but it can help build more collaborative relationships.
By using these skills, you can connect more easily and help others feel at ease and understood.
Give at least one of these approaches a try and let me know how it goes!