Building rapport can be an incredibly valuable tool to have while part of the workforce and also in your daily life. Not only can rapport increase the effectiveness of your communication, but it can improve your overall chances of success and build trust where you need it most.
What Is Rapport? Why Is It Important?
Rapport is the foundation of what a meaningful relationship is at its most basic level between individuals. Building rapport in the workplace can be incredibly important whether you work with outside clients or just the co-workers in your immediate area.
Rapport can be boiled down to three key points:
- General positivity
- Attentiveness on both sides of the relationship
- Common understanding or coordination
These three items when combined correctly can lead you to feel like you are in sync or otherwise "click" with another person. Those that can build rapport easily may experience this feeling frequently and establish it quickly with new people, while others may need more time to get established or perfect their technique.
Rapport is excellent for building relationships, and in your career, it can be an incredibly useful tool. Not only will it make you better at your job and working with others, but it can also ultimately make you more successful overall and help you influence others.
As you use rapport to build trust with others, you can expect that others will more readily accept your ideas, look to share information with you, and otherwise look for form opportunities that benefit both of you.
How to Build Rapport
Relationship building is a multi-step process that starts with the first impression you give when you meet someone new. Paying attention to your appearance as well as your body language and speech will help you create the best environment for gaining that person's' trust and building a healthy working relationship.
Mirroring and Verbal Methods
A good rule of thumb is that you should be looking at the person you are speaking with about 60% of the time. Making eye contact should be a priority, but not to the extent that it makes the other person uncomfortable.
When possible, summarize what the person has told you and use open-ended questions to clarify anything that you need to know. You'll also want to refer to what they have said later on in the conversation so it may be a good idea to discreetly take notes when appropriate.
Showing empathy and agreement with the other person is another key verbal skill that you’ll want to implement regularly into your conversations. When you disagree, make sure to do it constructively, and in such a way that the other person feels comfortable expressing their views after listening to your perspective.
Avoiding judgmental phrases, and instead, try building on the ideas of others as a method to disagree in a non-threatening way while still making your opinions known. While some people may find this restrictive, it ultimately will help the conversation flow more efficiently and often results in more being accomplished.
While working to build rapport, it is essential you remain genuine and respectful towards the other party. Being honest and admitting what you don’t know will get you much farther than faking your way through parts of a conversation only to later be exposed.
Your body language can play a crucial role in your relationship building skills and allow you to gain the trust of others. Smiling, nodding, using positive gestures and sounds all help to put the other person at ease and enable rapport to accumulate more quickly.
When the other person is speaking, lean forward slightly to indicate you are giving them your full attention, and also keep your hands, arms, and legs uncrossed. Crossing your appendages can give you the appearance of being unapproachable or reserved which can hinder how quickly you can build rapport with another person.
When trying to build rapport, try to match the body language of the person that you are working with as this will help them feel more at ease. If you are working with someone more reserved, they may clasp their hands conservatively, while other individuals will be more energetic and use gestures more fluidly.
When speaking with another person, pay attention to your breathing as well as theirs as it can be an indicator of their comfort and your own stress levels during the conversation. Breathing from the diaphragm in slow and even breaths can indicate comfort, while hurried and uneven breaths can indicate stress.
Try to match the measured breathing patterns of the person you are working with as a way to get "in sync" with them and also mirror them at the same time. This adjustment will also help your body language to more closely match theirs while helping you stay calm and collected.
Energy and Tone
In your career, you will meet and work with a variety of individuals that cover a spectrum of different energy levels and tones. Part of building rapport will be paying attention to these factors and learning how to use the information effectively to your advantage.
If the person you are communicating with is speaking softly, it's a good idea to mirror their tone and quiet your own voice. For those that speak more loudly and flamboyantly, do your best to keep up even if it puts you outside of your comfort zone.
Communicating using the opposite tone or energy that your counterpart is using will not build rapport, and it may even further damage your relationship. How fast another person talks is also a factor that matters and if need be you should slow down your own speech to match the speed of theirs.
You may notice that the energy levels of other can fluctuate, and this is to be expected. Do your best to mirror them, pay careful attention to their body language, and practice active listening to maintain effective communication.
Tips and Tricks
Building rapport will come quickly to some individuals but may take more effort for others. Relationship building is an ongoing process for everyone involved, and our tips and tricks can help you keep things moving in the right direction without dedicating an overabundance of time or effort.
When you work with people that you want to build stronger relationships with its worth taking the extra time to learn about them and make small notes about their preferences and hobbies. Paying attention during casual conversation and following up at a later date can quickly strengthen your relationship and may even surprise them.
For example, if your client likes baseball, or they mention a significant personal event coming up, make a note to ask about it later as a way to break the ice during the beginning of your conversation and bring candor into the equation. They will likely be grateful and eager to discuss it further, and it will also stick in their mind in the future.
Working with People
It's likely that you will work with people who have different preferences on how they like to communicate, complete tasks, and designate roles. While you don't need to be submissive to their every whim, learning to work cooperatively with them and being flexible on how tasks and objectives are completed will likely strengthen your working relationship.
An excellent example of this is when you are working with an individual that gets a lot of emails and routinely misses or delays in responding to messages that you send. It may be better to choose another mode of communication such as a phone call for pressing matters so that they can feel like part of the process instead of always playing catch-up with their inbox.
Building rapport can often happen naturally over time, but you can speed up the process by being proactive and identifying ways to move things along. Time may be crucial, or it may be a long-term project, but the more smoothly and efficiently you can work with others, the better it is for both sides of the table.
Sharing information with clients and co-workers, being transparent about the current state of various objectives, and setting clear expectations can help build rapport at a rapid rate when done correctly. Hearing from you on a regular basis will also help your client feel more at ease and will help them trust you earlier on.