Have you ever wondered why certain people are so good at connecting with others? Is it natural talent or a skill? Building an instant connection (rapport) with perfect strangers, though it might be easier for some people, is definitely a skill and anyone can master it.
So what does it actually mean, “to build rapport”?
Wikipedia defines rapport as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned are “in sync” with each other, understand each other’s feelings or ideas, and communicate smoothly.”
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or what position you hold, whether you are trying to sell something or improve personal relationships, knowing how to build rapport with others is an incredibly valuable skill.
Here are three useful tips and techniques that will help you create this kind of sense of connection with absolutely anyone.
Find something in common
Focus on finding things that you have in common with your interlocutor. Discovering common hobbies, values or priorities in life will build trust and connection in no time at all.
2. Ask questions and listen
Make sure to really focus your attention on the person you are talking to. It means looking at the person, nodding when it’s appropriate and keeping a positive attitude.
Ask open-ended questions and then follow-up questions to show that you are really interested in the person and their story. According to a recent Harvard University research, those who ask more questions, and especially follow-up questions, are perceived as more likeable.
Let’s face it, no one likes or remembers small talk. The most memorable conversations are those that go deeper or spark new ideas.
3. Mirror and match
Research shows that people like people who are similar to them. So when you talk to someone and you want to build rapport with them, get in sync with their rhythm. Pay attention to how they talk and what words they use and mirror them.
Match the tempo and volume of their voice as well as the body posture. Do it in a subtle way so that it doesn’t seem to be a mockery.
Why is mirroring and matching so effective? It is so effective because the other person gets a chance to see themselves in you. It will give them a sense that you really understand them, see them and hear them. This feeling of deeper understanding and connection is what we all want to experience when we interact with others.
In order to teach yourself these techniques, you need to practise and practise until they become your second nature. When it happens, you will see that you can create rapport with literally anyone. You will also find them extremely useful to enhance your relationships and to develop your emotional intelligence and hence the quality of your life in general.