Building Rapport in Relationships

Part of the Persuasion & Influence For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Rapport is about making a two-way connection between people. It is the foundation for any relationship. When it comes to building rapport, size doesn’t matter. You can develop rapport on a one-to-one basis or with a group of thousands. Great leaders understand the value of rapport in persuading people to adopt their suggestions and in directing their behaviours. Follow these principles to establish rapport:

  • Seek connection. Get to know the other person. Take a genuine interest in her. Find out who she is and where she comes from. Uncover what she enjoys doing at work and at play. The more you know about someone – including background, attitudes and values – the more points you have for finding where you connect.

  • Reflect back what you observe. Notice how she breathes and match your pattern to hers. Pick up on the key words and favourite phrases she uses in her conversation and subtly build these into your own.

    Pay attention to the way she likes to handle information. Is she a detail person or does she talk about the big picture? When you speak, replicate her patterns in yours. Adopt a similar stance to hers in your gestures, expressions and postures.

  • Give her the benefit of the doubt. Believe that whatever she intends to convey is for the good, even if her words and actions may not always seem to support this belief. By treating her as if her heart was in the right place, you’re more likely to establish rapport than if you don’t.

  • Treat the other person’s resources with respect. Time, energy, favourite people and money are important to people.

  • Stay in the flow. Rapport is a process not a state. You may fall in and out of rapport several times during the course of a conversation or meeting. Indeed, you may want to break rapport at certain times such as when you have a task to complete, need to speak with someone else, or just want to end the conversation. But like switching on and off a light, you can reconnect whenever you need or want to.

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