Some people seem to “get on” effortlessly with everyone. How do they do it? The key is building a strong, effective rapport—through paying attention, verbal communication, body language and simply being curious and genuinely interested in the other person. Would you like to give it a go? Try these simple steps.
- Smile. Simple yet effective icebreaker.
- Listen to the other person seeking to understand them and suspend judgment. Take in not just their words, but notice their tone and tempo, their pauses, their body language to discover what they mean: Are they upbeat or thoughtful? Do the pauses mean they are reflecting or unsure? Does it seem like something else is on their mind?
- Adapt your body language to match the other people. If they are leaning in to speak – lean in too, if they occasionally brush your arm – do the same. However, ensure that your efforts are authentic – if they spill their drink down their jacket, do not follow suit!
- Adapt your verbal communications to match the other person’s, including the tone and tempo of their voice, specific word preferences and their style of speech (formal/informal). To demonstrate your interest, summarise and reflect back the points that they are making.
- Maintain comfortable eye contact to let the other person know that you are interested and listening. Do not stare!
- Discover common ground. When people find a shared interest, background or experiences they automatically drop guard and become more relaxed and open to communicating. It could be something as simple as seeing the same theatre play a month ago, coming from the same county, hoping to go skiing next year or having teenage kids who want a bit too much independence.
- Be curious. Most people love to talk about themselves, in particular, their achievements, passions and hopes for the future. If you do not know the other person well, start with easy neutral topics – ask about their most favourite trip abroad or their most rewarding deal at work. You might not be able to stop them talking!
- Be YOU. What does that mean? It means being genuine and not feeling that you have to act like someone else. Most importantly, be in the moment—tune into what the other person might be feeling or thinking. You might have to abandon your pre-planned conversation map and improvise. Be bold!
Start practising better rapport skills today!