Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 01:34 Written by Pam Chambers Thursday, 21 November 2013 01:34

How to Create Rapport

“Rapport” is a French word (pronounced without the “t”) that means connection, goodwill, and fellowship. When you meet a person for the first time, you naturally seek to create rapport so that the encounter will be a pleasant one. Here are some tips for intentionally creating rapport quickly and easily:

Seek to be interested instead of interesting. You may worry that you are not interesting, knowledgeable, or witty enough to take up someone else’s time, especially at networking events where people want to mingle. The good news is that you don’t have to be interesting as long as you are interested.

Get others to talk about themselves. So that you don’t sound as though you are interrogating your companion, mix open-ended questions with leading statements. “How did you get involved in the dry-cleaning business?” “I’d love to hear about some of your marketing campaigns.”

Match. This means that you observe and match the other person’s body language, voice, and words. If Charlene speaks quickly, you should match her pace. If Stanley speaks slowly, you should slow down. If Charlene is leaning forward in her chair, you should too. If Stanley is leaning back, lean back. Be flexible to the other person’s preference. If Charlene wants to talk about taking her son to a petting zoo, be willing to talk about that. (There are limits to this. For example, if someone is speaking in anger, you should not match that.)

Lead. When you sense that you have created rapport by matching, it is now time to lead. Let’s say that you and Charlene are now speaking so quickly that it feels as though your message might be lost. Slow down. If sufficient rapport has been built, she will now match you and she will slow down too. (If not, go back to quick-talk and try again in a minute or two.)

“Make that two.” When you are building rapport at a lunch meeting, do this: Your guest orders vegetarian lasagna. Even though you long for the rare prime rib, you will say, “That sounds good! Make that two.” These three words automatically made your guest feel that he/she has good judgment. (But if your guest orders the prime rib and you’re a vegetarian, that will be something you cannot match.)

Bottom line: Be willing to put your personal preferences aside to help others feel comfortable.


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