There is a new up-and-coming restaurant by your office. A lot of your coworkers and friends told you that the food is delicious.
If the little cafe turns out to be your new go-to for a quick bite, you might turn into a loyal customer.
As soon as you walk in, you hear a lot of chatter from nearby tables. But the host at the front gives you one look and returns his attention to his phone. When you ask for a takeout menu, he acts as you bothered him by being there.
You’re stressed from all of the chaos at work today, so you were at least hoping for a warm greeting here. You don’t know the worker personally. But since almost everyone shares a passion for good food, you thought he might at least offer a grin or a “hello!”
You do not return to the restaurant. In general, you know why you don’t go back: the food was hot, but the customer service was served ice-cold.
But why, really?
The employees didn’t establish rapport. Building rapport is vital in professional environments.
What is Rapport?
According to Oxford Languages, rapport is “a close and harmonious relationship” where the involved parties “understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
But rapport is so much more than that.
It’s how we empathize with one another. It is based on mutual trust. We have to be both trusting and trustworthy.
Think of every single person you meet as a big circle with lots of tiny circles inside. Those tiny circles are their experiences, emotions, moods, and stories. But both the large and small circles just float around in space until you establish rapport.
Now, think of rapport as a line. That line is what connects you to another person. The line keeps building and growing until you have all of these connections with multiple people.
Building rapport is the way all of us can share empathy and pinpoint our common feelings. It is the way we open the gate to communication.
This process happens when you have heart-centered conversations with someone else. You have to consider and acknowledge various points of view, even if they challenge your own.
Why is it Important to Build Rapport?
If you’re wondering why building rapport is so important, think back to that initial scenario at the restaurant.
The host didn’t make any effort to build rapport with you, either on a personal or professional level.
This left you with a bad taste in your mouth about the business as a whole. Think about it: the business owner or manager did not slight you. One person did, which reflected poorly on the entire organization.
If you don’t work to develop relationships or connect with others, it brings down your business. Even the entry-level employees in your company feel those effects.
Building rapport is also important because it nourishes itself. As you strive toward good rapport, you hone your interpersonal skills. You also encourage the emotional intelligence of those around you. To put it simply, as you build those skills, rapport builds itself.
What Happens If You Lack Rapport?
We briefly mentioned a few consequences when you lack rapport. But as a business person, there are a lot more.
Earlier, we said that an element of building rapport is productive communication. However, you still communicate when you break rapport. Instead of communicating through active listening, though, you tell the person you’re talking to that you do not care.
It shows that you are not looking out for their best interest. That gives them the idea that you will not look out for them in the future, either.
You strip them of their trust; you strip yourself of their attention. That means you don’t have any power as a decision-maker for them. As an important part of a business, you know that you need to have that power to succeed.
You harm rapport when you:
- Don’t use the right language or communication style for an individual prospect or team member
- Discredit how someone feels
- Only hear what someone says instead of actively listening to what they say
- Ignore someone
- Generalize your approach for everyone
9 Important But Easy Tips to Build Instant Rapport
When you ask yourself how to build rapport, finding the answer is not always easy, even for those with good relationships or a natural talent for it.
You might worry that it takes too much time when you already have so many business matters to attend to. You doubt yourself because too much emotion can make you uncomfortable.
Any time that you feel that way, reference the advice we provide below. It helps you bring yourself to an emotional level that aligns with another person or group. We promise that each time you practice it, your doubts subside.
Of course, the concept of how to build rapport is more than a quick fix. But these nine tips will surprise you; they are all effective ways to build instant rapport. Mix them together for ultimate success.
1. Be a Genuine and Honest Person
Let’s imagine another scenario.
It’s almost Christmastime; it’s the end of November, after Thanksgiving. You have a busy schedule coming up at work, with the holidays fast approaching.
One Saturday morning, you get started on your Christmas shopping list and head to the closest strip mall. You start with a present for your daughter.
When you enter one of the stores, a frantic sales rep greets you. You think she can help you pick something out, so you tell her all about your daughter’s hobbies and favorite things.
An automatic smile plasters itself to her face. She provides generic and phony compliments that are clearly driven by the desire for money. She uses a fake “customer-service voice” the whole time.
She only offers you the most expensive products for sale. These products don’t align with your daughter’s interests. You can tell she wants to meet a sales quota and doesn’t care about anything else.
That lack of genuine effort makes you distrust her. Instead of building rapport, she was dishonest about her sales tactics when she showed you gifts with the highest price tags.
The next time you want to build rapport with a client, be genuine and honest. When upselling, recommend solutions that you believe in. Offer them genuine compliments, not just compliments because you want to garner favor.
2. Check How You Look
Have you ever listened to what someone was saying and thought it was completely outlandish and incorrect? Look in the mirror afterwards. You might find that your expression shows everything you were thinking.
That’s because you were close-minded to their thoughts. Even if you do not realize it, your facial expressions and body language give a lot away.
One of the best ways to ensure you are building rapport is to mirror the other person’s facial expressions. First of all, it encourages you to be present, hear what they are saying and feel what they are feeling. It also shows the other party that you are zeroed in on their emotions.
3. Contribute to Positive and Effective Communication
Communication skills are necessary, but as a whole they are broad. Generally, they are any skill that helps you offer and accept information.
Read through one of the many lists that tell you types of communication skills. They range from responsiveness to body language to the volume of your voice.
It’s a lot to unpack. But there is a foundation for effective communication that builds rapport.
Focus on active listening and watch the rest of your communication skills fall into place.
When you’re in business mode, you have to communicate with your team to relay instructions. You must be timely, constructive, and forward-thinking with them. But you also have to communicate with your target market. That’s how you retain loyal customers and learn how to improve.
Active listening is when you give all of your focus to the person who is talking. When you do so, you understand what they are and are not saying. You know the words they use and how they use them to relay a message.
Once they finish speaking, you can communicate back with a thoughtful response.
Active listening boosts open and honest conversation. The results are instant. It also encourages the other party to listen back. That is the catalyst to a productive relationship.
4. Create Shared Experience
Do you have one of those friends? You know, the ones who hear the first few sentences in your story and interrupt you with their own. Those types of people make you feel unseen, unheard, and undervalued.
Maybe you have an acquaintance who listens to your story all the way through. But at the end, they look at you with boredom, or like you have two heads. You walk away from the one-sided conversation with the same lousy feelings.
Don’t replicate those scenarios.
Every single person wants to feel a sense of togetherness. Even if someone says the opposite, what are they really saying? They’re saying that they never had the chance to share common ground in the past. Break that cycle.
Creating a shared experience is key when you’re building rapport. It lets you display empathy. At the same time, it shows the other person that you’re more than another shark swimming around your industry.
5. Understand One Another’s Feelings
Oxford Languages defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
Though simple, that is a perfect description.
If you do not understand someone else’s feelings right away, that’s okay. It’s a great chance to learn. When that happens, ask questions.
Rapport-building questions should not only prompt yes-or-no answers.
Actively listen, then follow up with thoughtful questions. Show that you heard every word someone said. It means you care and want to know more. Better yet, they eliminate mundane conversations about the weather.
6. Mind Your Mannerisms and Speech
Remember when we talked about your facial expressions earlier? Think about that again.
You need to work on your body language and nonverbal cues when building rapport.
Here are some examples of speech and mannerisms to look out for in yourself:
- Posture (are you slouched over or sitting straight up?)
- Eye contact (make it!)
- Uninterested actions (like checking your watch or phone multiple times during a conversation)
7. Maintain Eye Contact
We mentioned eye contact above, but it warrants its own tip.
Think of your personal life, for example. When you are out on a date with someone, you notice whether they look at you or around you.
If they look around you, you feel like they’re bored and already have an eye on their escape route. If they make eye contact, they encourage you to continue.
It feels like both of you are contributing to effective communication. You feel like they see you.
Mimic that scenario in your professional life to build rapport. Maintaining eye contact is a proven way to succeed.
8. Address People by Their Names
Always greet people by their names. It never hurts to sprinkle someone’s name in throughout a conversation, either. It shows you are focused on them and that you do not take a generalized approach to your conversations. Instead, what you say is custom-made for them in particular.
Practice saying their name when you look at their face. This also helps you remember them later on.
Addressing someone by their name is a stellar way to build trust on both ends.
9. Don’t Forget Your Smile and Handshake
Most people remember the beginning and end of a meeting or conversation the most.
Offer a genuine smile and firm handshake (don’t forget about eye contact!) at the beginning of an interaction. It puts the other person at ease and shows that you respect them. It also tells them that you are happy to see them; that they are a valuable part of your day. End your interaction the same way.
Ensure that this is a genuine smile. It helps to think of something you enjoy or respect about that person. Conjure up a fond memory of them or something they do that impresses you. The smile comes naturally after that.
Building rapport is a process, like most other parts of a business.
At Selling Revolution, our expert team can help you develop your processes for long-term business gains.
We have a secret recipe for your success, but we’re ready to share the secret sauce with you when you’re ready to revolutionize your sales.
Book a call with us today. We’ll be waiting for a copy of your unique business growth recipe.