Creating a rapport with others is not only a human need but also crucial for the success of any endeavor, because we exist in an interconnected web of life. When people feel connected with each other, they are more likely to work enthusiastically and cohesively, building on each other’s strengths.
In fact, research indicates that 70% of workplace learning is informal, meaning that when people are talking to each other at work, they are actually learning to do their jobs better.
Friendlier workers are more effective communicators, more productive and trusted. However, our different backgrounds, values, and prejudices often get in the way of building rapport.
So how do we bridge this gap?
Here are 8 ways:
1. Smile your way in – A smile is the easiest way to establish rapport. It instantly lowers defenses on both sides. In short, the other can’t help but smile back. Research shows that when you smile you’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. In addition, a study from Neuropsychologia journal reported that seeing a smiling face activates the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards, meaning that when you see a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.
2. Repeat their Name – Everyone likes the sound of their name. Make it a point to use the name of the person you are talking to. Avoid pronouncing their name incorrectly.
3. Pay complete Attention – Be alert to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Often we are so busy noting the words that we miss the tone or body language. Use all your five senses to glean insight. Ask open-ended questions and encourage people to express themselves freely. This will make them feel valued.
4. Compliment often – We all seek appreciation from our fellow humans. Irrespective of our apparent differences there is always something which can be admired in others.
5. Use the ‘Sandwich technique’ to give critical or unfavorable feedback – Whenever there is a legitimate need to criticize or bring to light something you are not comfortable with, first pay a genuine compliment. Then explain what’s bothering you, with relevant facts. Finally, end with a possible solution. In this way, you do not attack the person, but rather define the problem and encourage resolution.
6. Find Common Ground – People like people who are similar to them. Often finding a common area of interest like sports/hobbies/education or admiring something you like in the other can serve as a good start for conversation and camaraderie.
7. Empathize – Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes is the best way to grasp their perspective. This understanding can help you to not only create better rapport but also frame the best possible response for a given situation.
8. Be Authentic – When your actions are consistent with your values and principles you inspire trust and admiration in others, even if they do not agree with you. Trust is the fundamental building block of rapport building and it plays a key role in establishing a healthy long-term relationship.