Building Rapport – Why You Won’t Succeed at Work Without it!
Everyone is busy at work, problem-solving, getting results, getting s**t done, right? So, who has time for ‘soft skills’, ‘communication games’, ’team building exercises’ and even (please don’t make me) ‘roleplay scenarios’!
According to the Chopra Center, ‘being able to relate or connect with others is the most basic tool of workplace interactions’. We’re basically talking about building and maintaining trust, which is the most basic skill in all positive human interactions. And without trust, how are you going to be able to make that sale, be an effective leader, or work in a team effectively?
What is Rapport and Trust?
Rapport, the definition: ‘a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well’.
Trust, the definition: ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.’
No matter the context, people like people who like them, and we like people who are like us!
- Sales – if we feel that the salesperson understands us and our problems, then we’re more likely to buy.
- Leadership – if we can see that our manager takes time to know about our challenges and goals, we’re more likely to want to be productive at work.
- Teamwork – if we hear that our teammates or staff what to produce better results by working together effectively, then we are more likely to achieve results which are better than the individual contributions of even the most dedicated worker.
6 Tips for Building Rapport
So how do we build rapport and earn trust from the people we interact with at work? And how do we know when we have it? Whether we want to be the greatest salesperson in our company, improve staff retention, increase productivity and results, or simply get people to like us so we can all be happier and more productive at work, there are some easy ways to get started.
Here are some tips for improving working relationships and influencing people for a win-win result:
1. Observe body language and communication styles and adapt accordingly.
By seeing and then matching (or mirroring) someone’s communication style, we can create common energy which will have the flow on effect of making others feel more comfortable.
2. Ask the right questions, find out about what motivates people.
Start with open questions about the person’s desires, goals and challenges, then move on to more closed questions, to help them get into a ‘yes’ mode. For example, open questions: What do you see as your top goals in this situation today? What are the challenges you are facing? Tell me how I can assist you? Closed questions: Are you ready to get started? Do you see/ hear/ understand the next steps?
3. Let others do the talking.
Building rapport can be as simple as listening attentively and reflecting on what has been said. This should be done with a genuine desire to help others by exploring their needs and concerns. Reiterate what they have expressed to make sure you are clear, using their specific verbal and body language. Even if this sounds cheesy, play with this. People will warm to you and give you their trust easily if you reflect their world view!
4. Smile, nod, and express empathy.
We all prefer to be around people who are naturally optimistic, happy and genuinely interested in a positive outcome. If smiling isn’t your natural state, or needs to be forced, ‘fake it till you make it’. Practice using uplifting facial expressions, open body language, and positive language. You might just improve your own well-being as well as inspire others to be open to your ideas and goals.
5. Keep your emotions in check.
To build trust and rapport we must exhibit openness and honesty. It’s important for there to be an atmosphere of respect and active listening in the room, free of unnecessary emotions and obstructive behaviour. Wait to respond until you are sure you have asked repeatedly ‘what else’ and let the person in front of you express everything they need to say, without interruption. As Richard Carlson Ph.D. said: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, sometimes ‘it’s better to be happy than right’!
6. Do what you say you are going to do.
Actions speak louder than words and no amount of smiling, listening, matching and mirroring will earn the trust you want if you don’t act accordingly. Building rapport and trust depends on integrity and a proven track record that shows you can be depended upon.
Consider practice and training to improve your skills at building rapport and trust. Find ways to practice these communication skills in your daily life, as well as at work. There are lots of communication skills experts out there, as well as members of your team who may be willing to improve your workplace environment.
An excellent starting point could be Peers and Players Critical Conversations training.