I’m often asked how to build credibility with others, whether it’s your new boss or someone you’re hoping to turn into your sponsor.
Given this, I thought rapport was a timely topic.
In a nutshell, what it takes is to ask questions, have a positive and open attitude, encourage an open exchange of communications (both verbal and unspoken), listen to verbal and observe unspoken communications, and share positive feedback.
Here are important details on each step:
1. Ask Questions
Building rapport is similar to interviewing someone for a job opening or it can be like a reporter seeking information for an article. Relax and get to know the other person with the goal of finding common ground or things of interest. You can begin by simply commenting on the other person’s choice of attire, if in person, or about their writing style, if online, and following up with related questions.
For example, in person, you could compliment the other person on their outfit color choice and or maybe a pin, ring, or another piece of jewelry and ask where it came from. In online communications, you could comment on the other person’s font, emoji use or even their direct or more narrative writing style and then mention how you connect with the style. You could say that you like their use of the smiley face because it put you at ease and ask if they enjoy writing. Then follow up with other questions, steering clear of topics that could be divisive, while gradually leading the person to common ground you’d like to discuss.
Have a positive attitude and leave social labels behind. Many people can tell instantly if you have a negative attitude or if you feel superior. Treat other people as you would like to be treated and give each person a chance to establish themselves with you. If you’re unsure whether you use labels, ask a trusted friend to give you honest feedback and then work to eliminate those labels from your conversation. For example, one of my clients hates the words boss babe and recently had someone thank her for an interview and mentioned how she hopes to become a boss babe like my client some day. That person was quickly removed from the candidate pool.
3. Open Exchange
Do encourage others to share with you. Some people are shy, scared or inexperienced in communicating and are waiting for an invitation to share. You want to use your body language and verbal communication to invite an exchange. Face the other person with your arms open, eyes looking into theirs gently (not glaring or staring), and encourage a conversation with a warm smile. One of my clients suffers from resting b*tch face and constantly practices flashing a warm smile to others. For some of us, this takes more work than others, yet it’s important work.
Be an active listener. Don’t focus your thoughts on what YOU will say next. Listen to what the other person is saying and take your clues from there, while also noting the body language. In the virtual world, this can sometimes be hard to detect, so be sure you’re not multi-tasking and your full attention is devoted to the conversation. For example, if the other person folds her arms and sounds upset, you may need to change the subject or let her have some space and distance; maybe even try approaching her later on and excusing yourself to go make a phone call. On the other hand, if the other person is leaning towards you, following your every word and communicating with you as if you were old friends, BINGO. You’ve built rapport!
5. Give Compliments
Hand them out freely without overdoing it. Leaving a nice part of yourself like a compliment is a good memory for the other person to recall – numerous times. That’s good rapport. Do be sincere! False compliments aren’t easily disguised.