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13th July 2023 · The Clay Team

Building Rapport: 3 Key Tips to Foster Meaningful Relationships

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Establish better personal and professional relationships.

Building rapport is perhaps the most foundational skill in developing professional and personal relationships – it impacts all other elements of the relationship! Building mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation allows you to have more impactful and enjoyable personal and professional relationships. It can even help boost your career!

Thankfully, establishing rapport is an easy, enjoyable process! With a little practice, you'll easily begin deepening your relationships.

In this blog post, we'll dive into why building rapport is important, and we'll also provide practical tips for improving your ability to build rapport in person and remotely.

What is Rapport?

Rapport is a sense of connection with another person or group of people that is typically characterized by mutual understanding, a sense of trust, enjoyment of being around one another, and support of one another.

The Importance of Building Rapport

You probably intuitively know that rapport is important – especially if you've ever had to work together with someone with whom you had none! Friendships and professional relationships with people you have rapport with are much more enjoyable than those without rapport! But why is this? In short, it's because rapport is mutual trust and understanding. When you have a rapport with someone, you trust that you both understand each other and want the other person to succeed. This mutual trust enhances your communication by promoting mutual understanding and empathy, enabling smoother interactions and reducing misunderstandings.

The mutual trust that rapport brings frees you up to take risks or ask the other person for a favor – without worrying that they will undermine or criticize your effort. This leads to a more friendship or work environment where people feel valued and respected. Rapport smooths out personal and professional relationships, leading to a higher shared affinity, more trust, and better outcomes.

To highlight the basics, rapport is important because it:

Improves Communication

  • Rapport leads to deeper understanding, commonalities, and connection in conversations. This leads to more robust, impactful personal and professional relationships.
  • Rapport leads to lower stress levels in personal and professional relationships, as you can assume that the other person has your back, allowing you to be more creative and exploratory.

Creates a Positive Work Environment

  • Shared experiences, mutual understanding, and heightened trust allow for a more fluid, creative, stimulating, and even fun workspace. Employees will feel more free to share their views and opinions.
  • Employees feel more empowered to take risks when they know that their colleagues believe in them and trust them.

Enhances Collaboration

  • Increased trust and affinity make collaboration more energizing and inspiring – as opposed to daunting or dreadful.

3 Key Tips for Building Rapport

Building and maintaining rapport is a process, but it's a process that is easy and enjoyable to undergo. To build rapport you simply need to do two things: start trusting the other person, and show yourself as trustworthy.

One of the best early ways to start trusting the other person and show yourself as trustworthy is to listen well. This shows the other person that you care about them and what they have to say. Give your full attention to the other person, maintain eye contact, and avoid distractions. Show that you are engaged by nodding, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing their points.

Another helpful early aspect of building rapport is finding common ground in experiences, perspectives, hobbies, or preferences. This can act as a shortcut to being seen as trustworthy, and it helps establish a firm connection with others. Look for shared interests or experiences that you can discuss. This creates a sense of familiarity and mutual understanding, fostering trust in the relationship.

Finally, show empathy. Showing empathy demonstrates that you understand and care about the other person and their feelings. This really helps you come across as someone who trusts them and is trustworthy. Put yourself in their shoes and validate their emotions without judgment or criticism. This promotes open communication and deepens the bond between both parties.

To highlight the basics, you can build rapport with:

Active Listening

  • Truly listen to the other person. Not only will you demonstrate care for them, but you'll also get valuable hints and information on places where you have shared experiences or commonalities. Demonstrate your engagement through your body language as you actively listen.
  • Restate the speaker's words in your own words to show that you understand their message. Summarize key points to demonstrate active engagement.
  • Demonstrate your interest by asking follow-up questions. Again, this is a great place to find common ground, show you care, and indicate that you trust the other person.

Finding Common Ground

  • Ask the other person what their hobbies are, and be interested! Share your own interests and hobbies, too. Discovering shared passions can help establish a connection and build rapport. Whether it's a love for hiking, cooking, or painting, engaging in activities together creates common ground. Even rooting for the same sports team can build rapport!
  • Identifying shared experiences or backgrounds fosters understanding and empathy. It could be growing up in the same city, overcoming similar challenges, or belonging to the same cultural heritage.
  • Recognizing mutual goals, dreams, or aspirations allows for aligning objectives and working towards a common purpose. Whether it's advancing professionally, making a positive impact on society, or achieving personal growth, having shared goals strengthens your connection and shows you are trustworthy.

Showing Empathy

  • Since part of trust is knowing the other person truly cares about you, showing genuine empathy is a huge component in the process of building rapport. Be gentle, generous, and authentic when a coworker or friend shares something hard with you.
  • Being non-judgmental and understanding is crucial in demonstrating empathy. It means putting aside personal biases or preconceived notions about someone's experiences or feelings.
  • Using "I" statements to express empathy can make your response more personal and relatable. By sharing your own experiences or feelings in a similar situation, you show that you understand what the other person may be going through. This helps establish rapport as it creates common ground between both parties.

Parting Thoughts

Building rapport is the first step in creating strong, meaningful relationships. It fosters mutual understanding and trust, which are essential for effective communication and collaboration. To strengthen rapport, take actionable steps such as active listening, demonstrating empathy, and consistently delivering on commitments. By investing time and effort into building rapport, you can create a solid foundation for successful partnerships in any endeavor.

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