Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Building rapport, part of Communication Tips.
- I was always inspired by my first boss, Deanne. She had a knack for striking up conversations with strangers and always operated with a high level of curiosity and interest in others. Her questions were about the other person, who quickly ended up talking about something they were interested in. Deanne listened attentively and then she used the information to learn more about her new acquaintance. What I learned from Deanne early on was the masterful art of building rapport.
Building rapport is creating a relationship with another person. Rapport is based on commonality, harmony, and human connection. There are three types of building rapport and I will list them in order of difficulty. Rapport is easy when you and the other person have a lot in common. I call this simple rapport. We have a lot in common with people that we share a context with, such as work, a past experience like high school, or someone we share the same environment with, such as a family member.
Do you practice connecting with people at family gatherings and at work social gatherings? This is your easiest training ground. A trickier type of rapport that does not come as natural is impromptu rapport. You may not know the other person, but may find something you both have in common, and that sparks an initial connection. For example, on your vacation you sit across a person wearing a sweatshirt with your city's name across the chest or you're at a business meeting and you find that the person across the conference table is wearing the same charity bracelet with you.
Both these examples would make it easy to spark a conversation with a stranger, as it would be based on your chance commonality and the opportunity to build rapport. Take notice of people around you that you may not know but you may have something in common with. Practice striking up a conversation around that commonality first, and then ask another question so you get to know something more about them. The hardest type of rapport is custom rapport. This is rapport that does not stem from any commonality or shared past experience.
For custom rapport to happen, you have to make an effort, do your homework, and find something you have in common with the other person in order to strike up a conversation. It takes practice and energy, and might not be comfortable if you're not used to doing this very often. Next time you attend a company function or a conference, look up some of the session speakers, read one or two of the bios, attend their sessions, and then strike up a conversation or ask them a question at the end.
The pre-work will allow you the chance to get information. The session will give you context of discussion, and the overall setting will give you a chance to practice custom rapport. When you try to make a connection with another person, whether it's in a business or a personal setting, it takes energy and it takes practice. It's a known fact that over 80% of sales, marketing, and initial connections are made through networking. The stronger you are at rapport building, the stronger networker you will become.
Practice all three types of rapport building, simple, impromptu, and custom rapport, and you'll be well on your way.
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