What is rapport?
Rapport is that feeling you get when you feel at ease with someone. You feel they are listening, the communication is flowing both ways and you’re ‘in-tune’ with what is going on when talking to them.
Why is rapport useful?
Who wouldn’t want to be able to communicate with ease? Have a think, what is it you might be trying to say? It could be you want to tell someone about something important that has happened to you, or share a memory of good times, or let someone know about a great product or service (it may even be yours!)
In all of these examples knowing that you are in rapport means you can be confident that your message has a greater chance of being heard, processed and hopefully accepted.
That first meeting….
When you first meet someone, the decision to like someone is usually made pretty quickly. You get a feel for common interests, beliefs, or perhaps because you admire their character and aspire to be like them which makes things gel. Perhaps their thinking just matches with yours and consequently you feel at ease and in tune.
But how about being faced with building rapport in a situation with someone you don’t have much in common with? This can be a bit challenging.
What does rapport look like?
So, how do we make it so we get on with everyone, not just the people we ‘click’ with?
The key to building rapport is commonality. We tend to enjoy being around people who are similar to ourselves.
To generalise, people who are like each other like each other.
What does this mean?
It’s not referring to beliefs or political views or any other content regarding what people are saying but more about how they are saying it.
Think about that time you saw two old friends who were relaxed and chatting away. Perhaps you’ve seen people out in public in a coffee shop or elsewhere and you can tell they are getting on well, you can see the communication flowing.
Now you may not be able to hear what is being said but you can see what is going on.
Notice how they are together. They may be leaning in towards each other for example. Look a little closer, they may be unconsciously copying body gestures and movements. They are most likely also matching the tone, speed and volume of their voices too.
All of these are natural things that occur when people get ‘in the zone’ in a conversation.
How do we build rapport?
The great news is if you notice that these things aren’t happening when you’re talking to someone you can start to build them into what is going on, thus building rapport with that person.
This will tell them that you are engaged, and active in the relationship, encouraging them to dive deeper into the conversation.
And one more tip – give yourself time within a conversation. Active listening skills go a long way in making sure that you are listening to what the other person is actually saying rather than just forming a response in your head and give you time to relax. Feedback gestures and other physical indicators to them but also feedback what they are saying. That way they know they have been heard, and everyone likes to know they have been listened to.
Building rapport is important in any communication. Rapport can be applied to almost any relationship that you may have. Whether it’s with friends (where it probably just happens naturally anyway) or with customers, business partners, business contacts or potential clients establishing a strong and secure relationship through rapport with them will ensure a smooth ride throughout your day.
Rapport is a great skill to master and one we cover extensively on our NLP Practitioner course.