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Rapport refers to the state of understanding between two people or groups. It happens once an emotional connection manifests itself, sometimes naturally. People tend to get along well together without even trying. Usually, it’s based on shared views and experiences, including a shared sense of humor. To build on this initial connection, however, one needs to go through a process called rapport building, which is crucial to establish if friendship or a working relationship between entities is to flourish. Once an individual succeeds in cultivating it, the connection built will last for many years. 

What Makes Rapport Essential? 

It is essential to hone rapport because it is invaluable in creating and developing avenues that cater to trust, friendship, and an individual’s affinity with other human beings. Unfortunately, people don’t get educated enough about its importance, and instructions on how to build it properly are rarely given.

While navigating professional relationships, building rapport with peers becomes crucial when establishing oneself as an excellent communicator. Lack of communication is not the problem in most work environments, but the failure to communicate effectively. 

For example, many employees fail to appreciate the significance of other aspects of communication, such as nonverbal cues, context, and emotion. In fact, according to a well-known study, body language comprises 55% of communication, 38% through our tone of voice, and only 7% is accounted for by the actual words that people deliver.  

Rapport Building Components

Further, experts agree that there are five components to building rapport and establishing oneself as an effective communicator. Bear in mind that in every communication with a colleague, it is a must to: 

  • Present ideas clearly.
  • Make sure that the emotions and body language conveyed matches the message. 
  • See to it that the receiver of the message is listening without any distractions.
  • Make sure to utilize the appropriate method of delivery. 
  • See to it that the content of the message is clear and detailed enough. 

Doing these things help convey that you’re a true professional—someone who’s reliable and worthy of other people’s trust. 

Finally, it’s imperative to ask follow-up questions when needed. It conveys a person’s genuine interest in the topic of discussion and is eager to understand it in its entirety. 

How to Build Rapport? 

For highly-successful individuals, building rapport with diverse people proves to be instrumental in realizing professional goals. It is proven to help not only in enhancing skills but in learning new perspectives and gaining an understanding of different backgrounds as well. 

Rapport, as established previously, is an essential aspect of effective communication. Here are several things to keep in mind while building rapport with others: 

  • A person must present his genuine self – work on establishing a common ground with other people and build on that by emphasizing your genuine and authentic self. While finding common interests can be challenging at times, it is fairly easy to create an impression of being personable and relatable just by being yourself. A rapport built with others is always better if other people see through who you really are. 
  • Put reciprocity into practice – a show of support to peers is shown through the giving of favors and acceptance of favors that they offer in return. Doing this helps create a flow of support that will prove useful as the team works towards achieving a goal that is otherwise difficult to achieve through individual effort.
  • Mirror the behavior of others – once people exert effort to mirror their colleagues’ behavior, it’ll be easier to pay attention to them. By then, listening is done with the entire body. To do this, one can attempt to match the posture, tone of voice, and energy level of the person you interact with. 
  • The Golden Rule – when people treat others how they’d like to be treated, they’re not only doing the professional aspect of their life a favor but also their personal side. Take into account what others feel and be kind to them, especially when negotiating and establishing rapport. Doing these will make others see you as a person who deals in good faith, has compassion, and is trustworthy. 

Breaking the Ice 

Striking a conversation with a stranger can be challenging for many. It’s common for someone to be at a loss for words, or worse,  become awkward with his body language and mannerisms all of a sudden. 

Building rapport with a new acquaintance at the start helps make each conversation’s outcome more amicable for both parties. The following are a few pointers that everyone can apply to reduce tension and help induce an environment that will allow for more effective communication to take place: 

  • Remember to open up non-threatening topics and rapport building questions that are safe for initiating small talk. 

It’s a great idea to talk about shared experiences, how one traveled to reach his destination, or even the weather. This is better than talking too much about oneself or asking direct questions about the other person, which may be deemed too personal. 

  • Be on the lookout for shared experiences and circumstances while listening to what the other person is saying.

Doing this will provide an excellent opportunity for all parties to find more topics to talk about in the conversation’s initial stages. 

  • An element of humor wouldn’t hurt. 

Sharing a laugh with another person promotes harmony. One can make a joke about himself or the situation that he’s currently in. However, it is best to avoid making jokes about other people, no matter the circumstance. 

  • Don’t forget to empathize.

A person can show how well he sees the perspective of others around him. It can’t be stated enough that rapport is about finding similarities and being on the same page with everybody else. One way to achieve that is by being empathetic. 

  • Be mindful of body language and non-verbal cues.

To indicate that a person is listening, he can relax and lean slightly towards the person he’s talking to. In general, eye contact should be maintained 60% of the time while mirroring the other person’s body language whenever appropriate. 

Finally, one must see to it that the other person feels included and not interrogated during conversations. Like most people, others are also likely to feel tense and uneasy meeting and talking to strangers. Putting the person at ease will enable both persons to relax and make their conversation more natural. 

Building Rapport Non-verbally

While conversations at the onset help make people feel more relaxed, establishing rapport doesn’t always materialize with words. 

Subconsciously, people create and maintain rapport through non-verbal cues, such as body positioning, eye contact, body movements, facial expressions, and the tone of voice towards the other person. 

It is interesting to note that humans build rapport quite instinctively. It is a part of everybody’s natural defense against conflict – a scenario that most people try their best to avoid. 

The key to establishing rapport non-verbally is the use of appropriate body language. Humans read and believe in an instant what body language tries to convey. On the contrary, persuasion with the use of vocal communication takes more time. If there’s a disparity between what a person is saying to what his body language is telling, others will refer to body language every single time. 

Therefore, establishing rapport starts with displaying appropriate body language that is welcoming, open, and relaxed.  

The Benefits of Rapport Building to Organizations 

Most, if not all, industries are built on a foundation of trust. Much like building rapport with students as a teacher, establishing a connection with colleagues helps establish a motivated and inspired team to achieve its goals and objectives day in and day out. 

Meanwhile, as a company that is in the process of establishing its own brand and making it known to people, consumer trust should be at the very core of its foundation. Without a customer base and a community of followers, its hopes of topping the competition, let alone surviving as an organization, dwindles by the minute. 

Therefore, it is a must to make all stakeholders — customers, clients, investors, employees, colleagues, etc. feel that their time is valuable and that they are an invaluable component of the organization. 

Key Takeaway

Rapport, as part of interpersonal work relationships, promotes organizational loyalty. Without it, one can expect poor engagement and less than satisfactory productivity in the entire workplace. An employer-employee relationship with established rapport, on the other hand, ensures high overall productivity and longevity. Employees who are engaged and motivated to perform tend to dedicate more of their time in companies where they feel valued.  

That is why developing rapport as an essential part of every relationship is a must. Without it, relationships won’t be possible at all. Therefore, everyone should build rapport consciously as it’s beneficial, both professionally and personally.

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