“I already suggested that 3 times before.”
“Tell it to him so that he can say it. Then they’ll listen to your idea.” – real conversation after leaving the meeting room.
Rapport – Bridging the gap to being appreciated, seen, heard
- Making sure your ideas are heard.
- Being seen as an equal.
- Someone with a valuable opinion.
- An expert even.
How do you get there? I’m so glad you asked, friend. The answer is rapport.
What is rapport?
Rapport is the basis for good communication.
We like people who are like us. It creates trust.
- 55% your body language,
- 38% your tone of voice,
- and 7% your spoken words.
- Body language- 55%
- Tone of voice- 38%
- Words – 7%
How to get started establishing rapport
Be fully present
You can create rapport by being fully present the moment you’re about to approach someone. Be in your body. That can be a challenge. I believe in you. Embody yourself, feel your feelings, really allow yourself to be present.
Notice the state of the other person
At the same time, while you’re fully present in your body focus on seeing what state the other person is in. Allow your attention to focus on the other person. You want to meet them where they’re at. Some people might feel like you jump on them if you approach them too quickly/too loudly and then back off or close down. So notice – How is he/she doing (seems stressed, distracted, happy, relaxed, ..)?
Slightly adapt to the other person’s way of communicating
You noticed I wrote slightly. There are many ways you can adapt. More on that in the next section. Remember, we don’t want to “jump the gun” on anyone. What we want is to intuitively treat each individual appropriately. Talking about good leadership skills and empathetic leadership knowing the importance of rapport is more relevant than ever. Each person prefers to be talked to differently. Some want to handle things quickly, efficiently, not waste any time. Others prefer to start slow with some personal talk about the weekend or family. You get what I mean. So here are ways you can make sure you meet the person where he/she’s at. Be creative and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Ways of adapting your communication to get understood better
You can adapt to the other person’s way of communicating naturally. Communication is multi-faceted. You have a broad range to choose from. Take a look:
- Body posture
- The position of their legs (sitting or standing)
- Body movement (do they swing their body)
- Gestures they make
- Facial expressions
- The breath (deep, shallow).
- High/Low (You can make your voice a little higher, lower)
- Tempo (slowly/faster/fast – You can adapt to the tempo they speak comfortably)
- Timbre (the vibration they have in their voice and how loudly or softly they speak)
- Details vs overview (chatty vs brief)
- Keywords, fancy words, company terms, and abbreviations
- Foreign words – in English or their mother tongue “¡Qué rico!”?” – “la casa” anyone?
- Visual, auditive, facts-oriented, or feelings-oriented (linked to how they process and picture their world) language. Sometimes one word used can mean something completely else for another person. I believe that many misunderstandings in romantic relationships as well as in the business environment come from these simple misunderstandings. I’m so glad you’re dedicated to improving your communication.
Communicating authentically to you
Remember, I want you to meet them where they are at. Get in their energetic zone while at the same time staying true to you. In my opinion, that’s possible. Sure, it’s going to require some practice from your side. Our brain needs repetition until something becomes automatic and natural.
As I said before, You can meet them where they are at by slightly adapting your way of communicating to how they represent themselves at the moment.
Important: less is more!
Also important: please stay in your energetic comfort zone!
To make people feel comfortable while at the same time respecting you you gotta stay comfortable and authentic to yourself. Pick some of the ways I suggested to slightly adapt your communication but only choose what fits you.
We’re not robots.
All these examples can help you to meet people where they are at. Get in their world. You don’t get rejected on a personal level or kept at a distance when people feel comfortable around you. You get seen, heard, appreciated. We are responsible for the communication we receive back.
Take the wheel and lead the conversation
Then take it from there. Once you’ve established rapport it’s easier for you to steer or lead the conversation.
- You can also lead by asking questions.
- Refer to what’s important to the other person (values, common interests,…)
- Always ask yourself, on what level can I find a connection?
Again, always communicate at a level that allows you to be you while at the same meeting the other person where she/he’s at to have a beneficial, easy-going, and productive time.
Practise makes perfect
Great job, you’ve kept reading so far. Now make sure you apply this knowledge each time you encounter a person. Is there a particular person you want to connect with on a better level? Focus on establishing a mutually enjoyable and beneficial relationship.
Some FAQ’s concerning rapport
Is it possible to get a person to like you who dislikes you?
It’s possible. Sure, may be tricky to dive into this other person’s world when you do not naturally bond. It’s a practice as well.
Focus on the other person:
- Where’s the common ground?
- What matters to the other person?
- What are his/her interests or values (conversations about kids, favorite hobbies, professional ambitions, …).
Align your body language, tonality, or words:
- What could you adapt a little bit so that the other person can get you better?
Stay in your energetic comfort zone and stay true to your values while establishing rapport.
Is Rapport manipulating people?
You want your ideas to get heard and be taken seriously. That’s a natural, human drive. Nothing to be ashamed of.
In my opinion, it’s not. Let me explain. As with all things, it’s your intention behind it that matters. As long as your intention is backed by having your and the other party’s best interest in mind there’s a good intention behind it.
- Meeting people where they are at.
- Aligning your logic and positively future pace where your idea is going and the benefits it brings.
- Creating win-win situations.
Rapport means not:
- Controlling people
- Manipulating people
- Playing nasty tricks with other people’s minds
I also believe people are smart enough to get behind the manipulation. Sure, there have been moments where I have felt I got tricked into something. I’m sure you’ve experienced that too. Maybe we don’t notice it instantly but we sure get this nasty feeling in our gut, belly, or some voice telling us that something was fishy about that. Next, the time you’re not going to trust that person.
You hear what I’m saying. In no way is your honest approach in wanting to connect with someone comparable to some old-school, old-fashioned shady sales or hook-up techniques we certainly all have encountered in our life.
So rock on, showing your uniqueness by applying rapport.
Is it possible to have arguments although we mean the same thing?
Absolutely. Some people are particularly picky with their language. Sometimes one word used can mean something completely else for another person. I believe that many misunderstandings in romantic relationships as well as in the business environment come from these simple misunderstandings. I’m so glad you’re dedicated to improving your communication.
Just recently, I had a misunderstanding because of the word “testing” vs “evaluating”– I suggested testing the various options. The other person said, “That’s a stupid idea. It makes no sense to test each one.” When I said “We might not but we need to know where we stand. Meaning, have an opinion on the benefits, costs, future implications.” “Yes, that’s true – we need to evaluate it.” I got understood. Glad, we could find common ground again.
Is it possible that I’m being disrespected because I’m too nice
Yes, some people will never meet someone on eye level when they get approached and talked to in a submissive way. This also tells you to change your body language, tonality, words slightly to create a good basis for communication before you next lead into steering the communication.
It seems harder than you say. Maybe I’m not talented enough, not enough outgoing or a people person.
My simple answer is: anyone can learn to establish rapport and lead in conversations and simply life. You might have to get out of your comfort zone and try something out but you’ll quickly get used to it. I remember when I would blush when I would share my opinion. Luckily these times are over. I believe you can learn to communicate in a way that is authentic to you and makes you bond with people in your environment. Meet people where they are. And then take it from there. Each person is an individual. Unique. A little black box. No one has written on the forehead what’s going on in their life right now. But you can get behind that.
I’m an entrepreneur. Is rapport linked to personal branding?
I’m so glad you asked. I know personal branding is a big topic on Linkedin and in marketing in general. The way someone shows up consistently is how we get seen. Becoming reliable for how we work, what we stand for creates trust and predictability when working together. Knowing how to establish rapport is crucial for connecting well with potential customers even if you are not directly working in sales. The way how you present yourself to the public (aka personal branding for your business) creates an impression of how people will perceive you – and therefore also how they will approach you. Also, the way you present yourself on your website is an opportunity to create rapport. We like to work with people we know, like, and trust. It’s on you to present yourself how you’d like to get seen while at the same time meeting your website visitors where they are at. What’s their problem? What are they looking for? Are they aware of the solution they are looking for? What are their objections? You see, rapport plays into many aspects in business and life. Also personal branding.
Bonus Section: Biases in communication
Yes, not everyone wants to “make friends” with everyone. Sometimes it is also a cultural thing in how welcoming people are private.
A lot of the way we do things comes from the way we were brought up. Sometimes we follow the way of how former generations handled things even though this is not representative of how we individually like to treat people.
Many people are in a rut and handling things at work how they are used to handling them for years. It’s often not personal when they block your request. It’s most likely an unconscious bias. Some people never question their actions. As a rule of thumb, it’s always smart to change actions that bring you pain, negative emotions. Reflecting on your behavior doesn’t mean you’re inconsistent with your values. It can just mean you’re ditching something that’s no longer working to bring forth something that reflects your new you. Knowing that you can change old behavior patterns already give a lot of mental peace.
I’d always encourage women to speak for themselves. So that they also get seen over time. I know that some people prefer to hide behind others or not show their skills while at the same time dream of being valued or regret their actions when they hide. This is not gender-specific. I just happened to notice it particularly often in females who tend to play the “shy” part in group-, business-,family-dynamics, …
Implementing what you’ve read is the first step in learning to apply rapport.
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