Rapport is a connection or relationship with someone else

It can be considered as a state of harmonious understanding with another individual or group. Building rapport is the process of developing that connection with someone else.

Sometimes rapport happens naturally. We have all had experiences where we ‘hit it off’ or ‘get on well’ with somebody else without having to try. This is often how friendships start. However, rapport can also be built and developed consciously by finding common ground, and being empathic.

Understanding Rapport

Building rapport is the process of establishing that connection. It is usually based on shared experiences or views, including a shared sense of humour. Building rapport tends to be most important at the start of an acquaintanceship or working relationship. The rapport created, however, can last for many years.

Why Does Rapport Matter?

Employers are more likely to employ somebody who they believe will get on well with their current staff. Personal relationships are easier to make and develop when there is a closer connection and understanding between the parties involved – i.e. there is greater rapport.

When we first meet someone new, we start to try to build rapport. Like it or not, this is why small talk exists: it is a way to try to find things in common with other people and build that shared bond. This bond is important because we all have a tendency to want to be with ‘people like us’.

It is much easier to build rapport with someone who is very like you, or who shares a lot of your interests.

You have shared ground, and things to talk about. You also have a shared frame of reference. This makes both building a relationship, and communicating more generally, much easier.

Under those circumstances, working together is likely to be harder, and communication more difficult, because you lack a shared frame of reference. You will need to work harder to build rapport and develop your relationship — but this is still possible.

Break the Ice

For many, starting a conversation with a stranger is a stressful event hookupdate. We may be lost for words, and awkward with our body language and mannerisms.

Creating rapport at the beginning of a conversation with somebody new will often make the outcome of the conversation more positive. However stressful and/or nervous you may feel, the first thing you need to do is to try to relax and remain calm. By decreasing the tension in the situation communication becomes easier and rapport grows.

When you meet somebody for the first time, there are some easy things that you can do to reduce the tension. This will help both of you to feel more relaxed and communicate more effectively. These include:

Use non-threatening and ‘safe topics’ for initial small talk. Talk about established shared experiences, the weather, how you travelled to where you are. Avoid talking too much about yourself and avoid asking direct questions about the other person.

Listen to what the other person is saying and look for shared experiences or circumstances. This will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.

Try to inject an element of humour. Laughing together creates harmony, make a joke about yourself or the situation/circumstances you are in, but avoid making jokes about other people.

Be conscious of your body language and other non-verbal signals you are sending. Try to maintain eye contact for approximately 60% of the time. Relax and lean slightly towards them to indicate listening, and mirror their body-language if appropriate.

Show some empathy. Demonstrate that you can see the other person’s point of view. Remember rapport is all about finding similarities and ‘being on the same wavelength’ as somebody else. Being empathic will help to achieve this.