by Sam at Management 3.0
For most leaders, the importance of building relationships is high on the agenda when trying to create a thriving business and positive work culture.
No matter how smart you are or how brilliant a business idea you have, without the ability to build rapport with people you’ll only get so far.
For businesses and leaders the ability to build relationships is vital. And we’re talking about relationships with employees but also with external stakeholders; everyone who might have an interest in the business, or be connected in some way.
Having strong relationships not only allows you to tell others what you’re doing and why it matters, but if done well, you’ll be able to surround yourself with a team of people that genuinely care about the success of the company. By showing others that you care about them, they’ll care about you and be more inclined to help if you ever need a favor.
Before we dive into the how, let’s start with the what:
What is Rapport?
According to Merriam Webster, report comes from the French verb reporter and rapport comes from the French rapporter. Both verbs mean “to bring back” and can be traced back to the Latin verb portare, meaning “to carry.”
Rapporter also has the additional sense of “to report,” which influenced the original English meaning of rapport (“an act or instance of reporting”).
To put it simply: Rapport means relation, connection, especially a harmonious or sympathetic relation.
What does it take to build rapport?
Here are five ways:
Find common ground to build rapport
People find it easier to relate and connect when they feel they have common interests and are on the same page. The way to do this is by listening well and picking up on things that you might be able to relate to. If you’ve traveled to the same places, studied the same subject or have the same thoughts on a particular situation, let the person know. People are more at ease when they feel that they’re understood and can share experiences.
To build rapport, be yourself, be authentic
Don’t try too hard to create a relationship and definitely don’t morph into someone or something you’re not. Most people can detect inauthenticity from a mile away and it puts people off. Let your quirks shine through.
As long as you’re not being disrespectful or rude, just be you. Most people appreciate it and you’ll establish more honest and stronger relationships as a result.
Show real interest to build rapport
Ninety percent of people do not listen properly and that means that they listen with the intent to respond, not with the intent to understand. Remember, that the biggest thing people remember from any interaction is how you made them feel and that requires listening with genuine interest.
Ask questions based on what the person is saying and show them that you really care. This is one of the easiest and strongest ways to build lasting rapport.
To build rapport, build on previous conversations with follow up questions
It means a lot to someone when what they say is remembered. If you want to build a lasting connection with someone, take note of something they told you and follow up on it after. It could be an important date or appointment they had coming up, something they were worried about, news they were waiting on or an event they were excited to attend.
Follow up on it either with a specific note about it or if you’l be seeing them again soon, ask about it then. By remembering specifics that someone said, you make them feel heard and seen and that leaves people feeling special.
To build rapport, answer their questions about yourself
It’s one thing to be an excellent listener, which is key to building relationships, but it’s another to let people in as well. While people love being heard and probably more so than they love listening, they also like to feel like you trust them with details about your own life. No one likes to feel like they’re having a one way conversation or like they’re divulging life secrets and walk away feeling like they don’t know anything about you.
If you’re asked a question, answer it genuinely, don’t deflect. And even if the person doesn’t ask any questions, try to find ways during the conversation to give them enough information about yourself, so they feel like they too are getting to know you and not that you’re the only one getting to know them.
How do you build rapport with your teams and stakeholders?