Building rapport with others—whether it’s in person or online—takes practice. Much of it is intuitive.
Rapport is about creating a bond, link, connection, and understanding.
The goal is to connect and engage people so that they are thinking, feeling, reacting, and involved.
Humans crave connection and want to be understood.
Rapport building is an art and skill in communication that’s used daily in all our relationships.
Here are 10 tips to connect and build rapport with others:
Act approachable. When mingling face-to-face, be aware of how you move and behave. Notice how confident and easy-going folks network. Use body language and gestures that are inviting. When you’re online, have a welcoming and intriguing profile or video. Smile in your profile picture; it matters!
Ask good questions. People love to talk about themselves so develop your listening skills and curiosity. Learn how to ask powerful questions and listen closely to reply with a thoughtful response. People notice when you're mentally "drifting" in a conversation. Pay attention to details so you form deeper connections.
Disagree and still have rapport. If you don’t see eye-to-eye, be respectful and appreciate different perspectives. Healthy relationships are based on communication and compromise. Whether you're in person or online, you don’t have to agree. A simple acknowledgment is usually enough—and appreciated.
Stay upbeat. No one likes to be around a toxic person. It’s awfully difficult to connect and engage with someone who is leaking poison. Keep a positive attitude and be willing to help others (yes, even strangers). Remember, easy-going and approachable.
Discover the fine art of small talk. Light conversations help in-person and online. Small talk is essential for shy, introverted, neurodivergent, or highly sensitive people. Practice with strangers by looking for something you both are experiencing. Maybe it's a long line at the pharmacy, the weather, or a cute baby. Then, comment in a friendly, casual way to strike up a conversation. Always avoid political, religious, gender, or ethnic comments.
Notice how others handle information. This is especially important in live conversations. It may be at a networking breakfast, on Zoom, or a Facebook Live. Does the other person talk about “the big picture” or the fine details? Respond accordingly.
Learn communication modalities. If someone is a visual communicator, they will say things like, “Looks good to me” or “I get the picture.” An auditory communicator will say: “That sounds good to me” or “Listen to this.” Pick up the clues and cues people drop in conversations so you can adjust to their modality. This methodology—a key component of Neurolinguistic Programming—works in face-to-face conversations and online. It brings a subliminal sense of comfort to people and builds rapport.
Pick up on favorite words and phrases. Subtly intersperse their faves into the conversation. This helps to form a bond. It also brings a sense of comfort to the individual you’re speaking with—in-person or online.
Watch and listen. Observe folks who seem natural connecting with others. Whether in person or online, keep an eye on their conversations, posts, and Tweets. What works for them? How do they break the ice and engage people? How do others respond? Start incorporating some of their techniques into your style. It will soon be second nature.
Rapport is about making a two-way connection. It’s a feeling that someone else is genuinely interested and respects you. There is a bond, and it feels wonderful.
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