Have you ever met someone and immediately felt good about that person?
You may not know exactly why; maybe the things you had in common, how friendly they were, their smile, or just how you felt comfortable when you were with them.
This was rapport in action.
Perhaps you have also experienced meeting someone and almost immediately felt uncomfortable with them; maybe you don’t feel you could trust them, don’t especially like them or don’t really want to spend much time with them. Again, you may not know why you feel this way, but these examples are where there’s an absence of rapport.
So, what is this almost ‘magical’ rapport that we’re mostly not even aware of?
The word “rapport” comes from the French verb rapporter which means literally to carry something back; and, in the sense of how people relate to each other means that what one person sends out the other sends back.
When we are ‘in rapport’ we have a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned are “in sync” with each other, understand each other's feelings or ideas, and communicate smoothly. This brings many benefits for our relationships and communication including smoother interactions, improved collaboration, less conflict and improved interpersonal outcomes.
So, if this ‘rapport’ appears to be happening or not without our awareness of it, then it seems that we have no control or influence over who we like or not, who we trust or enjoy working with, but fortunately, this is not the case.
Although rapport can happen naturally, we can also learn to intentionally focus on creating the conditions for rapport to flourish not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of those we live, work or interact with.
Building rapport is an interpersonal skill and one we can learn, like all ‘soft skills.’ It is the ability to appreciate things from another person's point of view. It does not necessarily mean that you will automatically agree with them. However, it does mean that you are much more likely to accept their feelings and be able to communicate with them more easily. Equally it will increase the likelihood that they will understand what you wish to communicate to them.
So immediately you can practice focusing on what you appreciate in another, showing empathy to understand how they feel and what’s important to them and seeking win/win solutions that work for you both.
You might be surprised that the benefits of rapport are not just ‘magical’ but in your ability to create.
Learn more on ‘How to Build Rapport’ in our next blog.