Building Rapport Copy

Rapport: what is it and why do we need it?

Firstly what is rapport? A dictionary definition is “finding something in common” it is “responsiveness” or how we respond to each other.

Why do we need rapport?

  • To get along with each other
  • Win favour with people
  • Makes it easier to work with people
  • To help get people to like us
  • To win business
  • To have people want to work with me
  • It builds trust
People who “are like” each other, tend to like each other.
People who “are not like” each other, tend to not like each other.

That being the case, how do you get people to like you? Grab your note book and start making a list. Then share it with someone and get their thoughts as well.


This is the most important and most powerful thing you can do to build rapport. Why? What happens when you smile? It is contagious, when you smile at someone, in most cases they will automatically smile back. Try it and see. Here is the magical bit. When you smile, endorphins are released in your brain. Endorphins are happy pills, they make us feel good. So when you smile at someone, they smile back. At that point they have happy pills dancing round their head, but what is their subconscious mind saying to them? “I like this person, they make me feel good” WOW how cool is that!

If you are a person that smiles a lot then you know this to be true. If you are not that person, then practice. Practice until it becomes a natural thing to do.

Smiling is the most important thing you can do.

As you enter a new environment after school, it is vital you learn how to build rapport with people. Genuine rapport. This has to be real and it has to be you. Remember the subconscious mind and how much information it takes in! The other person will know if you’re not being real and just making stuff up.

If you find it hard to do and it is outside of your comfort zone, I get it, you are not alone. In fact nearly 55% of the population find it unnatural to make first contacts. That means that most of the people you will meet are feeling exactly the same as you are. So take a small risk and strike up a conversation. You just might be surprised at the response.

A good place to start is with friends of friends. You already have something in common – your friend. So it’s a safe place to learn how to start conversations. If you are really struggling then see if you can put yourself out there and join a club that might interest you. Just find a way to start.

I do an exercise in the training room where I pair people up who don’t know each other very well. Then I give them 5 minutes to find 3 things in common. They start by asking things like:

  • Whats your favourite hobby
  • Your favourite film
  • Do you cook
  • Do you like the outdoors
  • Music
  • Gardening
  • Cars
  • Building things
  • and the list is endless

It is amazing what people say they have in common.

Then I ask: if you’re to bump into each other at the supermarket, football, pictures or in the street, would you be more likely now to say hello and continue you conversation about your things in common? The answer is always a resounding yes, of course. And that is responsiveness.

One of the biggest challenges for your generation is loneliness in the workplace. As most of are lacking in these sort of skills, it is easier to just retreat into our comfort zone and feel safe. The problem with that is we very soon become isolated and lonely. This can quickly lead to feelings of depression. If this is you then know you are certainly not alone in this, it is becoming an epidemic.

Start practicing in small ways now, so it isn’t so hard in a new environment.

There is a side to rapport that is not often discussed or realised that has enormous benefits. Going back to our example of 3 things: With this person you now have rapport with, let’s say there is a small disagreement. Nothing major just a difference of opinion over something that may have happened. Because of your rapport with this person, is it fair to say that you would now cut them some slack, be a bit more forgiving toward them, be a bit gentler with them, and of course them with you also. The answer is yes of course. This is rapport in action.

I liken it to having a rapport bank with people. Each time we find something in common and then build on that, we are depositing rapport in our rapport bank with them.

What happens if you have a disagreement with someone with which you have zero rapport? Your rapport bank is empty! It is going to be much more difficult to get resolution. So build as much rapport with everyone you can so you are always depositing in their their rapport bank. Just start slowly and let it build from there. But start.

For work & business also

This principle of rapport also applys to a work or business context. Think about customers, clients and stakeholders. We all know that no matter what the business is, things go wrong and there are challenges that don’t give customers and clients the best outcomes. While some customers react more strongly than others, the principle of rapport works for all. No rapport with a customer means they have no reason to go easy on you and lots of rapport does the opposite.

There is a bigger picture

Having a healthy rapport with customers means you can work through issues and challenges together, and easier. This has a flow on effect of being able to once again satisfy a customer, which builds further trust. Trust promotes good will and that leads to loyalty.

So when something goes wrong and you are faced with a challenge you know the customer won’t like, think of it as an opportunity to cement loyalty. It’s about perception. Is It a problem to get all flustered and upset about – or an opportunity to show the customer how good you are at working through problems and keeping them happy.

A key for employment

Practice this, and make a habit of looking for the opportunity. If you can add this skill to your resume you will have a major edge on all other candidates for the job. Have some examples of how you have achieved this result for a customer, so you potential employer can see you really get this.

Rapport will show you favour

Generally speaking most people like to consider themselves as good people. We like to help others at some level. This willingness to help and assist others is the key activation button for another very powerful and magical law.

The law of reciprocity

Reciprocity simply says that if you ‘give’ something to someone, their natural response is to want to give you something back. Notice I put ‘give’ in inverted commas! That is because when you give, make it genuine. Don’t give to get, give to benefit others and to be nice. Remember the subconscious mind of the other person….. they know right!

We can all start by giving the things that don’t cost us anything.

  • Being nice
  • Show courtesy
  • Being patient with people
  • Putting others first
  • Kindness
  • Showing appreciation
  • Help someone – lifting a bag, put a trolly back, pick up something that was dropped
  • Give a compliment

Even though these things are just good things to do to another human being, they are building rapport, and they still activate the law of reciprocity. Will it happen every time? Of course not. But you will be surprised just how often it does happen.

A true story

Grab a tea or coffee, settle down and let me tell you a story of how I quickly built rapport, got massive favour and saw the law of reciprocity work for me.