The Comprehensive Guide on How to Build a Rapport

Building rapport is about forging genuine connections with people you interact with. They could be customers, colleagues, neighbors, and your audience. People who develop rapport easily tend to get things done well because they secure the buy-in of stakeholders and collaborate well with teammates.

You can consider it as a state of harmonious understanding with another individual or group. Building rapport is developing that connection with someone else.

Mostly, rapport happens naturally. We have all had experiences where we ‘get on well’ with somebody else without trying. This is often how friendships start.

However, rapport can also be built by being opening you up and appreciating that though we may be different, we all want the same things, such as respect, empathy and acceptance.

Building rapport can be beneficial to your career–it helps you establish good interpersonal relationships, which can open many doors for you.

Why Do You Need Rapport-Building Techniques?

Rapport makes it easier to get by daily, both in our personal and professional interactions or relationships.

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Employers are more likely to hire somebody whom they believe will get on well with the rest of the team.

Friendships and rapport are easier to form and develop when there are deeper connections and understanding between the parties involved.

Working with people that make it easy for others to establish rapport with them is a thing of joy.

A Guide on How To Building Rapport

Building rapport is not a complex task, but there are many important aspects to building rapport and smooth relationships and network with people around us.

Make Eye Contact

Eye contact builds rapport with others, and rapport encourages them to listen to you because they are interested in what you say. People respond to you by looking at you as well when you maintain eye contact.

Try maintaining eye contact for approximately 60% of the time. Relax and lean slightly towards them to show listening and mirror their body-language if appropriate.

When they stop paying attention to you, their eyes wander on to other things.

Find Common Ground

When you meet people who appear wealthier or better read or have travelled the world, or we assume did more significant work, you may not want to be one to build rapport for fear.

At our core, humans have the same fears and anxieties when speaking to those who may appear “perfect.”

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Regardless of how much money an individual may have in the bank, they want dignity and respect that each of us requires for ourselves. They also want to be friends or get along with you because of who they are, not because of what they possess or their position.

If you can remember that, at our core, we are all the same, you will be able to build rapport with anyone.

Don’t Cross Your Arms When Speaking to Someone

The arms remain an effective tool to influence how people perceive you. If you use your arms correctly, you can take an open, welcoming stance, encouraging others to come and speak to you.

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You can use hand gestures to show the other person that you are present and enjoying their company. Placing your arms tucked loosely behind your back will help you convey interest, all while keeping your arms in place.

You can unknowingly erect a barrier with your arms or things you are holding. Having your hands in your pockets or across your chest suggests disinterest or boredom.

Drop Your Phone

When you want to build rapport, do your best to tear yourself away from your phone.

When you are scrolling through your phone while trying to strike a conversation with someone you are meeting for the first time, you come across as bored or uninterested in the conversation.

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While you may genuinely have wanted to build rapport, if you don’t drop your phone, you may lose an opportunity to establish a meaningful connection with others because you are on your phone.

Do Your Research About the Person

To engage in actual conversations, you must research the person or persons you build rapport with. You should appreciate what drives them in life.

It’s easier to look up people on the internet now than it was in the past. So look up that person of interest to you, so you don’t miss any opportunities.

Use the Person’s Name

If the person is introduced, do your best to remember their name as you continue to talk. Do you not repeatedly ask them to remind you what their name?

Using names can be great icebreakers and helps you communicate more informally.

People also appreciate that you remember their name; it shows you fully engage with those around you.

Find Things to Admire

Everyone has some goodness in them. There is something to admire about almost everyone.

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You can always recall that time when the most competitive colleague did something nice or when the boss who wanted always wants to look good in management meetings at all costs threw his colleague or teammate “under the bus.”

We All Possess Admirable Traits

We all have some basic good in all of us. If you look for the positives in people first, you will have greater success in building rapport with others. Be non-judgmental towards the other person.

When meeting people newly, approach the relationship with open arms, not using the stories you previously heard about them to form an opinion or erect mental barriers that stop you from building rapport.

Put a Smile on Your Face

A good way to win people over from the beginning is to smile. A smile lights up a room and your face. Smiling when you enter a room signifies you are confident and ready to talk to others. A smile shows you are confident and optimistic that others will smile back.

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You smile warmly when you approach someone and develop it organically as they introduce you and shake hands. This creates a lingering impression of friendliness.

Create Value in Your Relationships

Most people see building an exercise that you engage in so you can get things from others. But this does not help you in the long-term. If you want to build genuine connections, you have been willing to be of value to the people around you. How can you provide a solution?

Alternatively, you can answer some questions. Building rapport should be about what you can give towards creating a mutually genuine relationship with those around you.

Not everybody you meet will interest you at first, but showing disdain or disapproval openly could hurt the rest of your networking efforts if others see your reactions and form a negative opinion of you.

Be Open

So many conversations at happy hours, receptions, conferences and events are transactional and shallow. I am skeptical that many results in genuine and authentic connections.

Being yourself when building rapport is a beautiful thing, and it allows others the liberty to shed whatever persona they assumed when coming for an event and, therefore, the liberty to be themselves. Being open means you allow your feet to touch the ground. You are real.

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When you are advised to be open, it does not refer to you giving too much information too fast or doing so without restraint. You don’t have to tell people everything or tell embarrassingly personal jokes to show you are open. I mean acknowledging where you are at the moment.

If you have something to comment on, don’t hold back for fear of talking out of turn. Also, listen to what others have to say too, and be open to soak in everything you can from the interactions.

When you do that, you formulate to what you’re holding inside, and you let the person with whom you’re engaging know that there are dynamics at play that affect how you are showing up.

Know That You are Great

If you struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, you may have difficulty building rapport. You wrongly believe that other people are better than you and perhaps you do not deserve to communicate with them.

To form a rapport, you have to believe you deserve to be in the room, you good enough to engage with others, you have experiences that others can learn from, you are breathing the same air as everyone else.

If you would like to find out the skill of building rapport with anyone, you want first to examine how you esteem or view yourself. At your core, you are worthy. You do not have to do or be anything to be worthy; you are worthy under your existence.

You are worthy because you exist, and you are doing all you can do every day. If you’ll shift your mindset and truly embrace your worth, it’ll be easy to create rapport with others.

Don’t Build Rapport Because You Want Something in the Future

People in authority or influential leadership positions do not always enjoy the luxury of having people around them who will tell them the truth.

Many people approach leaders from an opportunistic standpoint. It is refreshing to meet someone or build rapport with someone who tells the truth or can tell you.

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Honesty requires courage and a willingness not to be afraid of being wrong, to take a chance. It requires diplomacy and wisdom–and you must acknowledge the conditions that make different leaders more receptive to truth.

But many leaders can come to appreciate someone whom they know will be honest with them.

When a leader asks you how you sincerely feel, find the courage and the words to diplomatically and carefully tell the individual the truth. This will improve your rapport with the leader.

Focus on Neutral Topics

Talk about established shared experiences, the weather, how your trip was, what you love or not about the city. Don’t be the one who can’t get tired of hearing your own voice. Don’t spend all your time talking about yourself and your interests.

The conversation should be two-way. Also, don’t ask personal or direct questions. Don’t ask them if they have kids or pets or about their spouses. You may think it’s harmless to assume they have kids because they smiled at your child. But you do not know if talking about kids is a painful topic for them because they just lost a child or pet.

Keep the topics safe and non-intrusive when you are just meeting people or about to build rapport with them.

Be an active listener and show interest in what they are saying. This will make it simpler to talk in the beginning stages of communication.

Use Laughter and Humor

Certain studies about laughter perception by Dr. Carolyn McGettigan suggest that our brain can identify forced laughter and try to work out why.

And when they hear genuine laughter, they could build a better rapport. When we are building rapport, laughter and humour help to keep the conversation genuinely free-flowing.

Building rapport is critically important, no matter the job. In the past, people who didn’t work in large teams didn’t think they needed to build rapport, but more than anything in the 21st century.

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While building rapport, we must maintain self-awareness and emotional intelligence. And make sure the other person feels included but not interrogated during initial conversations. Just as you may feel tense meeting and talk to somebody new, so may the people you are building rapport with.

Put the other person at ease. This will enable you to relax and conversation or rapport to become more natural. Remember, building rapport is not the same thing as lobbying or trying to make people like you because you want something from them.

Building rapport is also not a complicated activity. Put a smile on your face and be genuinely interested in people and watch your relationships blossom.


Rapport happens naturally. It is established between two people as an “invisible” thread that connects them and helps them to open up to each other.

The easiest way to build rapport is to be sincere and genuine and use the techniques outlined in this article to establish an even stronger connection to your counterpart in the conversation.

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About the Author

Eugen Spivak - Award-Winning Business Strategist and Business Coach - 150x150 px

Eugen Spivak is a multi-award-winning author, business strategist, and a business coach. Eugen is the founder of the Canadian Institute of International Business, an organization dedicated to bringing practical and hands-on business education for modern business leaders.

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