A strong rapport usually means that people will be more open to the ideas, suggestions, and solutions we present.’ Dale Carnegie
No. It can be made and broken very quickly. I would put a bet on you having experienced the sense of losing trust in someone (or a company) in an instant - am I right? How about when you found out a big company you had regularly bought from was exposed for tax dodging - or mistreating staff ... that trust was gone in a heartbeat wasn't it?
Same applies to feeling you trust someone - you can feel it very soon after the initial 'hello'... think about it.
So - why? What makes one meeting give you that warm relaxed trusting vibe and another get all your defence systems operating at full throttle...
What leads us to feel trust?
To feel trust you need to be 'in rapport' - so this is where the tactics put into action right up front - in order to create the trust. These 4 tactics are classic, proven, simple and very effective rapport building tactics - do not leave any of them out.
Rapport is often considered to be something other people create by casting a mysterious spell. I would argue that, like many skills, it is not magic but it needs learning and putting into practice repeatedly - you get better at it.
Let's start from the end product -
what does it feel like when rapport has been established?
Here are the 4 tactics - in this order
In these days of social media and google it is crazy not to do a little harmless stalking! You do not have to delve far to find out something that will help with rapport building. You are looking for:
People like those who are like them. It is the job of you, the detective, to actively listen and watch in order to uncover those similarities. Maybe you both like hockey or watch the same news station. When those common interests are brought to the surface, there is instant rapport—they like you and you like them—and there is no better environment in which to do business than one in which you like each other.’ Robert Cialdini
WARNING – this is not about actually saying something to the person about anything you have seen – it is just about gaining a bit of a profile that informs elements of your approach and conversation. I am not suggesting you go to the lengths of a police detective building a psychological profile – just skim the surface a little.
“it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.” Yes - I agree with Malcolm Gladwell
Our brains are wired perfectly for bias. Why? We needed to make very quick judgements about whether a person was friend or foe for survival purposes. There wasn't always time to explore the more nuanced aspects of a person’s character and personality.
Instant judgements are sometimes of value (I know I shouldn’t snuggle up to a dog that is frothing at the mouth) - good - but often an unhelpful block to open rapport building conversation. (My ‘ex’ used to talk like that – I can tell what kind of a person this guy is straight away)- not good.
Be prepared to have your opinion confounded – that’s the fun bit.
An aside: I am a real groupie of a guy called Erving Goffman. He was a rock star in the communication world in my opinion. I am ‘bias’ due to my personal background as an actor, however I think you will get something from his work if you take a read. He came up with a model called ‘dramaturgy’. His book on this subject was called ‘Presentation of Self.’ To put it briefly, he compared us all to actors with our ‘on’ and ‘off’ stage versions of ourselves. Read it – it’s a bit more detailed than that.
If you have done your research you might avoid first impression pitfalls. You might avoid the mistake of dressing casual and coming face to face with a formal suit situation. You might avoid making a careless passing comment about the area only to discover it is where that other person was born and bred. These are daft traps to fall into – don’t!
Guy Browning on listening: ‘We all think we listen, but we don’t’ We’re either waiting for a pause in the conversation so we can start talking again, or we’re pretending to listen... Be a radiator, not a drain’.
Carl Rogers on listening : ‘Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively, skilfully and with understanding to another person.’
‘and as James Borg observes - 'Interest is flattering.’
What are the extras you need to bring to the act of listening?
If the other person is a slow talker, repeat their words in your head to fill the space in your head. We listen a lot faster than we talk.
Why is listening vital to rapport and trust building?
Just one more listening quote:
‘You’ve heard about people who talk too much. You never heard about a person who listens too much.’ Andrew Sobel.
Imagine if you just made your prospect feel like that...
One place you need to use your instant trust building rapport skills is at a networking event - just one of the ingredients of 'making networking work' for you. So get even more equipped by downloading this free guide - before you go to another networking event!
I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.