“Rapport: a process of establishing and maintaining a relationship of mutual trust between two or more parties.”

Genie Z Laborde

We all know that communication is about more than the content level. Empathy and mutual understanding can do a lot to build the relationship level in any interaction. The word for this is rapport. It comes from the French and literally means to give something back. Being in rapport with someone can help in many situations – especially when you want to persuade or influence them. It does not mean that you always have to agree with everything someone says nor does it mean that you must slavishly copy their movements or body language.

It does mean that you should aim to appreciate things from the other person’s viewpoint and show you are listening and understand. An element of matching and mirroring occurs naturally when you are in rapport with someone as shown in our photo. People unconsciously adopt similar postures, tones, gestures if they are on the same wavelength. To build rapport when it does not occur naturally, you can reinforce this physical matching and you can also allow space for the other person to express their opinions, beliefs and values without seeking to impose your own.

How to increase rapport

Increanewsletter_rapportse your awareness of your own signals and the impact they have. By listening properly and honing your observation skills (even of things such as how someone is breathing or the small movements of facial muscles) you can learn to react in a way which shows you are “in-tune” with them and establish common ground to move forward. It may also help if you can find a way to match or reflect back to them what you have picked up about what they think and feel. By doing this first, you will find that the other person is more likely to then give you space and time to express what is important to you.

The Training Box recommends …
Influencing With Integrity: Management Skills for Communication and Negotiation
Genie Z. Laborde PhD
Crown House Publishing