Achieving trust by building rapport

How can building rapport help you get better results from your communication and marketing?

Rapport exists when there is a comfortable feeling of confidence and trust between two or more people.

Where there is strong rapport, people understand each other more easily and there is potential for effective communication.

Build rapport with…

  • Prospects and you have more chance of making the sale.
  • Interviewers and you are more likely to land a job.
  • Customer service agents for lower prices or better service.
  • Audiences and your presentation will achieve the outcome you want.

Do you have the ability to establish rapport? Of course you do, you have already done so many times throughout your life. You simply haven’t recognized what you were doing.

Have you ever for example engaged in a conversation with someone where the two of you were naturally in sync? You may have felt as if you were almost speaking with your thoughts as much as with your words. That’s a good state of rapport.

You can easily build that same degree of rapport by design with one other person or a group of people.

Six Ways to Build Rapport
Here are six things you could do to build rapport with someone.

  • Match their words: We are inclined to like people who think and behave as we do. So matching the way others talk is a good way to build rapport with them. Take note of the words someone uses which indicate their sensory preferences (such as visual, auditory or kinesthetic) and use similar words and phrases in your own communication. You should also try to use any key words or phrases that they use a lot, such as “Alright”, “Actually”, “You know what I mean”.
  • Match their physiology: People who are in rapport tend to follow similar body language. Matching the physiology of someone you’re talking to can make them feel more comfortable. Copying their posture, facial expressions, hand gestures, movements or even their eye blinking, will cause their body to say unconsciously to their mind that this person is like me! You don’t have to match them exactly, for example if they are tapping their fingers, you can move your feet with a similar rhythm.
  • Match their voice: You should match the tone, tempo, timbre and volume of the person’s voice. If the person is slow and deliberate, he will feel comfortable if you are the same way.
  • Match their breathing: If there is a big difference in the breathing pattern of two people in conversation, both of them would feel uncomfortable. If you want to build rapport with someone, you need to match their rhythm of breathing.
  • Match how they deal with information: Some people are detail-oriented while others prefer their information brief. If you get this wrong you will find it very difficult to build rapport as the detail-oriented person will be yearning for more facts or the big-picture person will soon be yawning!
  • Match common experiences: Suppose you are a long way from home and meet a stranger who turns out to be from your hometown. Before long, you will find yourself in a very lively conversation, looking for more experiences in common. Of course, it’s rarely so clear-cut but the secret is to find some commonality. If people have some matching experiences, interests, backgrounds, values or beliefs, it will be easier for them to achieve rapport.

To build effective rapport you must be patient and you must be an exceptional observer. You also need to be subtle in using these techniques. You need to be careful not to go too far but typically the other person will not notice it. You can develop your ability to observe other people to such an extent that you will begin to see and even predict their reactions to what you say.

Once you have established rapport, you can start changing the other person’s viewpoint to more closely match your own. This is called leading. Do this slowly, and you will elicit a positive response. You will notice them starting to adopt your mannerisms and enthusiasm. However, do it too quickly and you will blow your rapport. Once you have mastered the skills of rapport building, you will find that you can lead virtually anyone and any group, large or small, in the direction you wish.

Practice Makes Perfect
As with most things, rapport-building techniques become more effective the more you use them so it’s important that you practice whenever possible. You can practice building rapport with strangers at the grocery store or even in line at the coffee shop.

It can be a lot of fun and also very profitable!

In a separate post, we look at how to build rapport in writing, when you don’t have the advantage of being face-to-face with your audience.