Accredited associate coach and professional speaker, facilitator and trainer Renée Giarrusso answers a question on building rapport.
Q: I hear rapport can really help me connect as a leader and business owner. Any ideas to help me build rapport quickly?
A: What a great question, as awareness of this is an important element of any interaction. Rapport is simply having connection, and if we can connect at a deeper level with people, we can have deeper relationships, better conversations and much more effective communication, at work and in our personal lives.
Rapport = influence
I strongly believe rapport equates to influence and too often in the busyness and rush of life we only connect at a topical level. This often goes amiss, leading to communication breakdowns (‘personality clashes’, as some call them), arguments and time wasted circling back on conversations and meetings already had.
Every impression is a first impression
Just like building a house, if we build a strong foundation, the house, like any relationship, has a stronger chance of lasting the test of time. Take the time to build rapport with those around you and remember we can go in and out of rapport, so don’t assume that, once built, it will last. Be mindful of where this is at, at all times.
How to build rapport
A few ways to build rapport include the small things, such as remembering people’s names and important things about them. Being truly listened to is a rare thing these days, and this is a quick way to build connection. Just be all there and present for the other person or people.
Another way to build rapport is to be a bit more like the other person. Don’t change who you are, but subtly match the pace and loudness or softness of their voice and you will be in flow. This can be done via many modes of communication, including face to face and over the phone, or a webinar.
Mirroring of body language can assist in building what I call subliminal rapport. Mirroring simply means to mimic, again subtly, the other person’s gestures, posture and expressions. We all know how awkward it can be when we are standing, and another person is sitting when trying to have a conversation. Set the scene and be facing that person at the same level, whether both sitting or both standing.
Raising your energy
I always advise to raise your energy up by 20 per cent of that in the room to build energy and rapport. In that next meeting or team catch-up, think about the energy in your steps as you enter the room and the words you use to open up the session.
Find common ground
We tend to build rapport more easily with those who are more like us, so take the stance of being a little bit more like the other person and find a few things in common and give them 100 per cent focus. Always maximise similarities and minimise differences with those you may find it more challenging to connect with. The key is not to change who you are, but subtly tweak a few things and always do this with integrity and good intentions.
Rapport doesn’t need to take a lot of time to build, it’s all about awareness, authenticity and consistency.
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