Five ways to build rapport in life and business
How good are you at building rapport with people?
Does it come naturally?
Do you have to work at it? Is it even all that important?
Well yes it is!
Knowing how to build a rapport can open a world of opportunities you never thought existed or were at all possible. When there is a rapport, there is a willingness to assist, a willingness to work together and a willingness to support one another. In business, building good rapport is your foundation for success.
Here is why…
Regardless of whom you are, your line of business, or your position, developing rapport with people can be of huge benefit. When there is a rapport, you are in a position to influence, learn and teach. There is a high degree of mutual attentiveness and trust which means you are more likely to share knowledge and ideas, and create opportunities together. It also breeds loyalty.
By establishing rapport with customers and employees you will find your productivity, revenues and profit improving. That is because people will trust you, feel comfortable with you, want to do what you ask of them, and work with you rather than against you.
That feeling that you are in sync and focused on what and how the other is doing, combined with a shared enthusiasm to work together to succeed. makes you part of a “dream team”. Who doesn’t want to be part of a “dream team”?
So what does it mean to build a rapport with someone?
Building rapport is the process of establishing a connection with someone. It is an essential part of every successful relationship. In business, it is an essential skill. When you are able to build rapport with people, you build relationships faster, communication is better and your working relationships will be more effective. Without it, communication and collaboration are so much harder.
For some, the ability to build a rapport just comes naturally. For others, it takes some work. You may also find that you come across certain people and instantly “click” with them, whereas with others, you simply just battle to find common ground or a connection. But, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to build a rapport with them.
Here are five ways to build a rapport…
1. Body Language
A lot of rapport-building happens without words. Non verbal signals such as body positioning, posture, movements, eye contact and facial expression tell much about you and how you feel about the person with whom you are engaging. Obviously, you want to feel comfortable and you want the person with whom you are speaking to feel at ease too. That’s why it is important to be mindful of your body language.
Use appropriate body language so that there is no disconnect between your verbal and non verbal communication. If there is, it is likely that the person will “believe” non verbal cues instead of what you are saying. Actions speak louder than words! So, use body language that suggests you are relaxed, open and welcoming.
- Keep eye contact but don’t stare
- Relax your shoulders
- Nod in agreement where appropriate
- Smile and laugh
- Keep your head held high, don’t stare at the ground
- Don’t touch your face
- Don’t fidget
- Don’t invade people’s space
- Mirror the other person’s body language – if it is relaxed and positive that is!
2. Verbal Language
The words you use and the tone of your voice are important in developing rapport. Use encouraging words and show interest by asking questions. Clarifying what has been said and reflecting back indicate to the other person that you are listening and also offers the chance for any misunderstandings to be rectified. If you can match your language to the language the other person is using, it supports that feeling that you are on common ground. For example, if the other person uses visual language, respond back with visual language.
And try to avoid doing all the talking. Instead, focus on listening and being attentive. Use open ended questions to discover things about the other person and gather information so you have the opportunity to find topics upon which you can find common ground. You need to have and take a general interest in the person and what they are talking about.
- Use the person’s name when you talk to them
- Talk about things that link back to what the other person has said
- Ask questions to show interest
- Be genuine and polite
- Always be honest
- Admit if you don’t know the answer to a question they might ask of you
- Be receptive and show an interest in listening to the person’s ideas
- Don’t use defensive or condescending language
- Use opportunities to reflect and clarify – this shows that you have been listening
- Show empathy and use language that suggests you can see things from their point of view
Your tone of voice, just like the words and body language you use, is important when you communicate with others. Have you ever heard that phrase, “It’s isn’t what you say, it is how you say it”? Simply put, this means that the way in which you say something tells you a lot more than the words themselves.
A friendly tone of voice attracts people, makes them feel comfortable and creates a desire to engage with you. When trying to build a rapport with someone, your tone should be relaxed, friendly and encouraging. The best way to keep a friendly tone is to vary your pitches when you speak. Don’t keep a high-pitched tone throughout the conversation as it might come across that you are over excited and unauthentic. A low pitched or monotone on the other hand can make the person feel like you are not interested. So, try to vary your tone appropriately.
- Don’t race through your words, speak slowly to keep the person engaged
- Use the correct volume – too loud or too soft can destroy a conversation
- User a softer voice to avoid sounding aggressive or defensive
- Speak clearly and don’t mumble
- Smile and to let this smile shine through in your tone
- Altering your speech patterns to sound friendlier, more attentive or more enthused at different points in the conversation
You will find that you feel better connected to and better understood by people who match your energy levels. Likewise, people will feel more connected to you if your energy levels match. Closely related to both body language and tone, energy levels tell a lot about what you feel and think about the person you are talking to. You want them to feel as though you are on the same wavelength, that you are on their page! Look at the person’s behaviour and body language for an idea of their energy level. If they appear reserved or shy, you being exuberant or loud could be intimidating and make them feel uncomfortable. Take it down a notch if you have to. Try to match their level of energy and enthusiasm.
- Show enthusiasm but don’t be overzealous
- Reflect their body language and the words they use
- Put yourself in their shoes show empathy and convey that you care
- Use appropriate facial expressions. If they are excited, show excitement, if they appear worried, show some concern
- Recognise and respect their speech patterns and try to adapt.
5. Listen, Listen, Listen
In this loud, fast paced and competitive world, everyone is fighting to be heard and a lot of us have forgotten how important it is to listen. We have already spoken about reflecting and clarifying what the other person has said in order to show that you have been listening.
To be able to reflect on what someone has said, you should have been listening! Reflective listening is a communication strategy involving two key steps; firstly, we seek to understand another person’s idea or point of view and secondly, we reflect back the content, feelings and meaning behind what they have said to show that we understand or to clarify. It shows that you have paid very special attention to what they have been saying.
- Give your full attention to the person. Listen to what they are saying and don’t cut them off mid-sentence
- Show that you are listening by using eye contact, nodding in agreement and smiling when appropriate
- Empathise with their point of view
- Paraphrase what the other person has said to confirm understanding
- Ask questions about what the person has said to show that you have been listening and to clarify meaning
Use these 5 easy ways to build rapport in everyday life and business and you will find that making connections and building trust will start becoming easier and easier. More people will want to work with you and doors will start opening. After all, if people only do business with people they know, like and trust – rapport building is essentially the foundation to your success.
Want to find out more about building rapport and creating successful relationships. Contact us to find out more.