Rapport comes from the French word for “relationship.” Is it any wonder that rapport is essential for good communication in the workplace? But what exactly is rapport? What does it do? How does one build rapport?

First off – rapport is all about trust and understanding. It is not necessarily about agreement. This means people can see each other’s perspective – even acknowledge a different point of view – and not agree with it. There is trust that each person will be heard and confidence that each will be treated with respect.

Think of rapport as greasing the wheels of communication. When we have rapport with another person, we are more likely to communicate freely. That communication minimizes problems, or when problems do occur, it facilitates resolution. Contrast that with relationships lacking rapport: there is minimal or even destructive communication.

Building rapport is not an intricate or complicated skill, but, let’s face it, it’s more comfortable with some people and more difficult with others. We all probably have some relationships that could benefit from better rapport.

Here are some tips for building rapport:

  • Show interest in the other person – enter their world a bit
    • Ask non-threatening questions
    • Actively listen
    • Rephrase to show understanding
  • Uncover commonalities – create a bond
    • Find things that you share in common
    • Avoid “one-upping”
  • Disclose some personal things
    • Go beyond “shop talk”
    • Let others see your humanness
  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication
    • Make eye contact
    • Smile!
    • Mirror body language
  • Take some time
    • Avoid always rushing into business topics
    • Make building rapport a part of every day

Invest in building rapport in your relationships, and you will experience better communication through your connection and understanding.

Rapport equals trust plus comfort.

Neil Strauss

Treat your peers as interesting fellow humans, and you may be surprised by what it does for their motivation, dedication, and engagement.

Camille Fournier