5 Powerful strategies for building rapport
When it comes to creating strong relationships at the workplace, good rapport matters. It can be easy to assume that building rapport is a natural, instantaneous process, but just like any other skill, rapport building in a professional environment takes ability and practice.
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Depending on your role, strong rapport with others may be the secret to your career’s success. Read on to discover five powerful strategies on how to build rapport.
*Source: 2021 Higher Education Statistics, Department of Education (DESE) (provided March 2022)
What is rapport?
Rapport is often characterised by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy. In simple terms, rapport is how humans can effectively connect, share feelings and establish two-way communication with each other.
Researchers Linda Tickle-Degnen and Robert Rosenthal claim that building a good rapport involves three non-verbal key elements:
- Mutual attentiveness
With these factors, anyone can become an expert on building rapport- whether at home or in a professional setting.
Why is rapport important?
Build better relationships in the workplace
Having a strong rapport with your colleagues, seniors or subordinates will allow you to foster more positive relationships at work. This can lead to more productivity, better communication and increased business collaboration.
Expand your professional network
When it comes to business, the old saying ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ has never been more true. Building good rapport with the people in your industry will help you forge new connections, giving you more opportunities within your field.
Stay top of mind for hiring managers
Being interviewed for your dream role can be nerve-racking, but building rapport with the hiring manager can make the experience much more pleasurable and increase your chances of being hired.
Even if your application isn’t successful, your interviewer may keep you top of mind for future positions.
Who should I build a good rapport with?
While it’s best to have a good rapport with everyone you meet in your industry, there are some people who you should focus on creating strong relationships with:
- Your seniors
- Any employees working underneath you
- Colleagues who you are in close contact with or who you see every day
- Representatives from other businesses who collaborate with your company
- Suppliers to your business
5 tips on how to build rapport with others
Sure, building rapport with others can benefit you professionally, but people can tell when you’re not being genuine. Approach your team with authenticity and be sincere with your interactions. Put simply, be yourself, and your natural charm will shine.
And always remember that the aim of building rapport within the workplace is to benefit both you and the other person. So keep that in mind while connecting with others.
Remember people’s names and other details
Remembering a person’s face, name, and any other significant details that show that you are attentive and interested in who they are. It also builds trust and open dialogue.
If you struggle to remember names, ask for a business card. You can store all your cards in a book that you can refer to when needed.
Ask engaging, thoughtful questions
No one likes being trapped in a one-sided conversation. When you don’t engage in the conversation or ask interesting questions, it can form bad connections. By asking engaging, thoughtful questions, you are demonstrating interest in the other person’s life and point of view.
Some examples of rapport-building questions to ask during your next conversation are:
- What would be your top recommendations if I had the opportunity to pass through your city/state?
- My (niece/son/grandchild) wants to become a (profession). Do you have any advice I should pass on?
- I read on your LinkedIn that you spoke at (event). Do you have any future speaking events lined up?
- I noticed you have your (X) certification. What was the process of getting that like?
Adopt positive, welcoming body language
Non-verbal communication is just as important as the words you say. Things such as posture, eye contact and facial expressions are central to building a strong rapport.
Face the person who is speaking, maintain comfortable eye contact and mirror their expressions as they speak. By doing these things, you are showing that you are in tune with the speaker’s feelings and are actively engaged.
Avoid looking at your phone, folding your arms or turning away from the other person. This highlights that you aren’t genuinely interested in what they are saying.
Practice, practice, practice
Socialising doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So don’t be discouraged if you struggle to be comfortable around new people. With patience, practice and time, you will learn how to socialise much more easily and feel at ease while doing it.
And remember, not everyone is going to be easy to speak to or be a natural conversationalist. If you find yourself in a difficult situation with someone who isn’t engaging with you, graciously leave the conversation and try again with someone else. That way, you can still remain respectful and maintain the comfort of everybody involved.
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