Rapport is a cornerstone of successful work relationships because it promotes open communication, develops trust, and fosters the desire to work together. In addition, when others feel a sense of rapport with you, they are far more likely to support your ideas, provide help when you need it, share important information with you, and recommend you to others.
The opposite of rapport is friction. It often arises between individuals due to misperception and misunderstanding. Good rapport is a result of seeking to "see rightly" the other person. The acronym H.E.A.R.T. provides five rapport-building techniques that will help you create more meaningful and productive relationships at work: Humility, Empathy, Attention, Respect, and Thanks.
umility. The January 2014 issue of the Administrative Science Quarterly found that CEOs who exhibit traits of humility create an empowering culture, which proved to yield better work engagement, commitment, and job performance from employees. One way to build rapport through humility is to ask for others' opinions and sincerely engage with different points of view. This inclusive practice validates others and shows that you value their ideas. A great start is to begin asking more open-ended questions:
--What do you think is the best approach?
--How have you resolved issues like this before?
Based on your experience, what would you recommend?
mpathy. How often do you recognize and respond to the emotions in others? Are you able to put yourself in another person's shoes? When you take the time and make the effort to show others you understand the situation from their perspective, you build rapport. Why? Chances are, you like someone who cares about you and seeks to understand your point of view. Consider using the below statements to demonstrate empathy:
I can see how important this situation is to you.
If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying. . .
This must be a difficult time for you. What can I do to support you?
ttention. Have you ever been with someone who can't or won't focus on you? It seems impossible to communicate in a meaningful way, much less bond. A key to building rapport is to break the habit of being distracted. Giving undivided attention to the other person is the most basic ingredient in any healthy relationship. You can demonstrate attention in two important ways: nonverbally and verbally. Nonverbally, remember to show attention through active listening, good eye contact, head-nodding, taking notes, and leaning in; and avoid multi-tasking. Verbally, repeat or paraphrase their words, and use statements and questions that show you're paying attention:
--I heard you say abc; how does that impact xyz?
--Please say more; I want to gain a better understanding.
--Let me close the door (turn off my phone, shut my computer) so there are no distractions.
espect. According to surveys conducted in multiple FORBES Global 2000 companies, when employees are asked how they most want to be treated by their boss and co-workers, their most common response is "with dignity and respect." This phrase encompasses the basics of building rapport, such as being courteous, kind, fair, and polite. As importantly, it also includes recognizing others' efforts in a genuine way. Instead of just saying, "Great job," add specific descriptive feedback, which demonstrates that you admire the person and hold them in high regard.
--Jill, you did a great job on the Project X report. You provided well-documented research, a thorough analysis of the numbers, and clear logical recommendations. I'm confident the management team will be able to make an informed decision because of the quality of your work.
hanks. If you want to create rapport and improve the quality of your relationships, there's no quicker way than showing sincere gratitude. With the pressures of work life, it's easy to neglect opportunities to say, "Thank you." Yet, when you invest the time to let people know you truly appreciate them and their actions, you make them feel valued and esteemed.
--We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!
--Your help on the project was invaluable. Thanks so much for your support and expertise.
--Thank you for your sincere feedback. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.
In The Little Prince,
Antoine Saint-Exupéry reminds us that the heart can help us "see rightly" the essential elements that are often "invisible to the eye." Consider using Humility, Empathy, Attention, Respect, and Thanks to create more meaningful and productive relationships at work. As a result, your H.E.A.R.T. will help you reap the rewards of building rapport.
If you would like to learn more rapport-building techniques and other essential communication and presentation skills, please read my book
Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results
(available in Hardcover, Kindle, and Audio).
Feel free to contact me directly to schedule an in-house corporate training event for your team. I would be honored to support your presentation success.