You want others to care about your message or what you are trying to accomplish, you must build rapport. Fat chance persuading or influencing others without it. And frankly nearly everything you do is about your message or what you are trying to accomplish.
There is little we can get done on our own. So it is imperative we have the sincere connections in our lives.
Why should anyone listen to you, if you haven’t first shown that you care about them, are interested in them and have built a relationship with them?
Like many of the interpersonal skills, this isn’t one most of us are taught. For many of us, we fall into the trap of overestimating our skills in this area because we are so good at getting people to like us. Actually, we are really good at getting people who are very similar to us, to get us to like us.
Since we are not typically taught rapport building and we may not be as good as we think, let’s put a little time and attention into building this skill so that we can better connect with others.
Frame of Mind
Our frame of mind when rapport building is important. Set yourself up for success by keeping the following in mind.
- Step Out of Yourself – You need to step out of your own self interested world and begin to enter the world and viewpoint of another.
- Show genuine interest – I f you don’t care about them, getting to know them, or understanding them – don’t even try to build rapport. Your efforts will be tainted by your thinking and undoubtably it will show up in your attempts to connect and form a bond with this person.
- Everyone is different – Get to know people as individuals. Each person is unique. When we take the time to show that we care about them as an individual person and show interest in their uniqueness we get the opportunity to build a deeper relationship and fuel our own growth.
- Judgement Free – Leave your preconceived ideas at the door. You can’t learn about someone if you’ve already made up your mind. Seek their thoughts and opinions without judging them.
Don’t forget the basics. pay attention to who you’re speaking with, good communication, and positive body language.
- Pay Attention – No distractions. Put away the phone. Keep your focus on them. This is the ticket to entry. Without it, the rest won’t matter. If you are too busy to pay attention and that you look like you should be doing something else with your time, then quit wasting everyone’s time and go do that instead.
- Eye Contact – Using balanced eye contact helps show your interest and that you are paying attention. Don’t overdue it, too much or too little eye contact makes people uncomfortable.
- Verbal – Use clear and concise language. No jargon or being wordy. You won’t impress anyone with thesaurus required level vocabulary. I love language and the diversity of words we can employ but this isn’t a doctoral thesis paper. This is about connecting with another person.
- Tone – Your tone of voice affects your message. The words you choose to use are important and the way they are received by the listener is augmented by the tone of your voice.
- Non-Verbal – If you are in the right frame of mind, then your non-verbals should follow suit. Positive body language is extremely important. A majority of our communication comes through non-verbally and intuitively.
- Trust – In order for people to like you they have to trust you. Be the person who tells truth. Be open. Don’t have a hidden agenda.
Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves. While few will admit it, nothing sounds sweeter than the sound of their own name. Use their name in conversation. Show interest in them. Ask questions about them. As long as you genuinely care they will open up and share with you.
No Process, Process
There isn’t an exact process for building rapport. In fact, having a rigorous process goes against and can erode having the right frame of mind in the first place. Keeping an open mind and tailoring the interaction to the person, environment and circumstance will yield better results.
There is a basic flow to building rapport through a conversation, whether it be on the phone or in person, your first interaction or if you’ve known someone for a while.
- Greet – Open and friendly greeting. Shake hands, use their name. This sets the stage for a positive interaction. Put them at ease and be comfortable and relaxed.
- Listen – Pay attention, show genuine interest, look at them, do not talk but show that you are listening to understand. If you don’t understand something ask a clarifying question or test for understanding with paraphrasing. When they are talking the focus is on them.
- Questions – Ask good questions. When we are interested we ask questions, rather than jumping in to talk about what we wanted to talk about. When you follow up to what they are talking about with questions it shows your interest in what they are talking about and getting to know them better.
- Balance/Sharing – While you shouldn’t be doing the lions share of the talking, you want the focus to be on them – it is also important that their isn’t an imbalance in sharing. No oversharing, but keep it on par with their level of openness.
- Mirror – As we build rapport, we begin to get in sync with the other person. Unconsciously we mimic those we like. You’ll find that you are both mirroring one another in subtle ways, the speed of your speech, the way you sit or stand, your gestures and arm movements. If you are unsure if you are building rapport, try adjusting your body language, if they follow suit, then you are headed in the right direction in building rapport.
- Empathize – As we show empathy with another, we show that we care by trying to understand their point of view, feelings, and opinions. This doesn’t mean you have to show that you agree about everything they say. It is showing that you care about their point of view.
As with all skills, it takes practice. The good news is that there is no end of possibilities for working on your ability to build rapport with others. There is no end of need to improve in this area. It forms the basis of much of our interaction with others and is a fundamental area in building Negotiation or Leadership skills.
Build upon your skills in areas related to Building Rapport, such as Active Listening, Developing Trust, and Politeness.
By showing an interest in others and trying to better understand the unique and diverse people around us you will learn more about yourself, you will grow as a person as your learn from others and others will have more interest in your message and your influence will grow.