Romance and roses might have been taking centre stage as the thoughts of many turned to relationships on Valentine’s Day. But creating the right chemistry in a relationship goes beyond your partner. Successful, healthy relationships are vital not only with your family and friends but also with your work colleagues; it’s easier to forge strong relationships with people you trust and like and who appear to be like you – all you need is rapport.
Why is rapport important?
Rapport is that natural chemistry you have with family and close friends, that sense of connection and understanding, a bond that brings you together and builds trust. Rapport is a fundamental communication skill – and with those you feel most comfortable, establishing a rapport happens subconsciously. Once you have learned how to build rapport you might want to use it to break the ice, for example, or to create strong relationships at work or socially. You can also use the power of rapport to influence others or to gain backing for your proposals and suggestions.
It’s easier than you might think to replicate rapport in the workplace or in a social setting with unfamiliar people – simply by entering their world and viewing it from their perspective can transform the relationship.
Beyond some of the simple communication skills you can use to gain rapport, including maintaining eye contact and listening actively, here are some quick tips you can start practising now.
How to build rapport
1. Find common ground
Whether it’s discovering you share a hobby, went to the same university or live in the same part of town, identifying a common link is a quick and easy way to break the ice and establish instant rapport.
You can start to enter someone’s world by mirroring. In essence, mirroring a person is simply altering your own body language, breathing and voice patterns to ‘mirror’ or ‘reflect’ theirs. By doing this, the other person feels more at ease.
Mirroring body language: Observe how the other person is sitting, what they are doing with their hands, whether their legs are crossed and how their head is tilted. Match their facial expressions; if they raise an eyebrow, do the same to acknowledge their emotion; when you speak, copy the hand gestures they use and if they nod their head, mimic that action simultaneously to demonstrate agreement.
Mirroring breathing: Breathing patterns are determined by emotional state. Notice the other person’s breathing patterns and synchronize your own with theirs.
Mirroring voice patterns: Listen carefully to assess the pace of speech and whether they speak loudly or softly so you can match it.
Warning: Take care that your mimicry doesn’t come across as mockery; be subtle and use it selectively.
3. Be empathetic
Demonstrate that you can understand the other person’s emotions and can relate to their perspective.
Author of international bestseller, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Dale Carnegie says, “Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.'”
There’s nothing simpler than a smile to get you on that road to rapport…