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How to Improve Your Rapport Development

How to Improve Your Rapport Development
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    There are plenty of great people in the world—honest, reliable, and considerate—who frequently fail in developing friendships and relationships with the people around them. If you haven’t got good social skills and body language or confidence around others, you may fall into this category.

    If that’s the case, then what you could be missing is the ability to develop rapport. If you don’t know what that is, rapport is:

    a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.

    So, if you’re terrible at cultivating this strange thing, here are a few tips to get you started.

    Smile

    Smiling bypasses the mental defences of the person you are talking to and allows them to mentally associate you with trusted friends. While that doesn’t mean you’ll instantly become a trusted friend, it does often take down the first set of defences people have built up towards other people.

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    A stony-faced, grim look on your face isn’t really going to earn you any new buddies.

    Compliments

    Praise and compliments appeal to someone’s need for recognition and admiration. That recognition is also a pretty rare thing to give and receive in modern society, so tactful and appropriate use of compliments can effectively set you apart from the bulk of unknowns and acquaintances.

    Most people can smell a false compliment from the other side of the world, so be careful. Don’t dabble in lies and look for, and wait for (as the case may be), something you can genuinely say you are impressed by.

    Benefits over Features

    You know the guy who brags, and brags, and brags? If you are anything at all like him, you might want to take some old and clichéd copywriter’s advice.

    Benefits over features means talking about what you can do for others instead of how great you are. In the copywriting context it means focusing the conversation on how the product can help the potential customer’s life, whereas a feature list would simply discuss what makes the product so great. For example:

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    • Feature: Our operating system contains a built-in state of the art firewall.
    • Benefit: The built-in firewall protects you from viruses and malicious intrusions, keeping your computer safe.

    See how you can apply this to your daily conversations and watch the results.

    Benefits over features. What do they get out of this relationship?

    Opposites Don’t Attract

    Strangely enough, oppositions in body language patterns can cause a dissonance in interpersonal relationships and create an obstacle for the development of rapport.

    Matching body language patterns, in moderation and ‘invisibly’ is a good idea. If they use hand gestures when they speak, use them. If they stare right at you when they’re talking, do the same. This idea can even extend to the voice—if you’re talking to someone with a low, monotonous voice, without changing the character of your voice in an obvious way, try and match it. If they have an expressive voice, don’t speak in monotone. Monotones are usually slightly irked by expressive speakers and vice versa.

    This is a psychological thing that bypasses the conscious mind altogether, but subconsciously the guy you’re speaking to will think you’re quite like him and develop a layer of trust or break down an obstacle in the road of rapport.

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    Make Use of Coincidences

    In a similar vein to the last tip, listen for matching interests, opinions and hobbies throughout the conversation, and reinforce your agreement. The more you have in common with someone and express it the more they’re going to perceive you as similar to themselves subconsciously.

    Accentuate similarities, and minimise differences. Don’t lie about it, though—dishonesty kills rapport. Simply focus the attention on the similarities and away from the differences.

    Let Them Talk About Themselves

    In a nod to Carnegie, most of the discussion on developing rapport will make it clear that one of the best methods of achieving this is to get the “target” (for lack of a better term) to talk about themselves.

    People love themselves. It’s a fact they may deny, but it’s true. Except, maybe, those people who call themselves “emos” but I think that may be a self-deluding farce.

    When the conversation gets onto the “target” and their personal lives, let it stay there and be interested in their spouse and kids and where they went on the weekend. Remember details such as their children’s names so you can steer the conversation in that direction at the start of each encounter to set a good tone for the rest of it.

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    Use Eye Contact

    As you probably know, eye contact is important for the development of interpersonal relationships. Use it in conversation, but break it every now and then so as not to make anyone uncomfortable.

    If you’re an introvert and not very good at making eye contact, practice a few seconds at a time. Hold it for three seconds, then four, and work your way up until you’re comfortable making eye contact how and when you please.

    Diffuse Tension

    While this next tip doesn’t necessarily help to build rapport, it does allow you to prevent your hard work from going bust. Learn to diffuse tension and prevent arguments from occurring.

    Locate the source of any tension, swallow your pride and diffuse it—whether that involves making a concession of being wrong, or keeping off the topic. Save yourself the headache of an argument before you’ve even gotten to know someone.

    The Test: How to Find Out Whether You’ve Succeeded

    There’s a simple but usually effective test to see whether you’ve made a connection and how well it has worked. If you’ve been matching body language and voice patterns, make a minor change and see if they follow it. For instance, use an expressive voice instead of a monotone one—gently, don’t go to extremes—and see if they follow your lead. If they are ‘in rapport,’ they probably will.

    Test as necessary, but unobtrusively and only for short periods of time so you don’t break rapport.

    Some people consider these tips to be in some way dishonest or manipulative. Only if you’re trying to be dishonest and manipulative, I think. I’m totally against anything that falls in those categories and encourage you to use complete honesty and sincerity at all times.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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