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How to Build Rapport – Part 4

Rapport must be a two-way connection between people, so it’s not something that you can create by yourself. You can, however, learn how to stimulate it by following these six steps.

1. Check Your Appearance

First impressions count, and your appearance should help you to connect with people, not create a barrier. A good rule of thumb is to dress just a little “better” than the people you’re about to meet. However, if you arrive and see that you’re overdressed, you can quickly dress down to suit the situation.

2. Remember the Basics

Always remember the basics of good communication:

·         Be culturally appropriate.

·         Smile.

·         Relax.

·         Remember people’s names.

·         Hold your head up and maintain a good posture.

·         Listen carefully and attentively.

·         Don’t outstay your welcome.

These basic tenets form the foundation of great communication. It will be hard to establish rapport without them, as they will help you to establish trust, empathy, and a feeling in people that you are listening to them.

3. Find Common Ground

Identifying common ground can help to establish rapport, so use small talk to find something that you both share.

Most people like talking about themselves. The more genuine interest you show in them, the more likely they are to relax and “open up.” Use open-ended questions to discover personal information: perhaps you attended the same school/madrassah, share the same hobbies, or grew up in the same city, or enjoy listening to the same Qira`ah/Anaasheed. Even just expressing your shared frustration at the traffic that delayed your journeys to work can help you to draw closer to someone.

Tip 1:

It’s important to be genuine and sincere, and to avoid overdoing things. Don’t make up an interest or try too hard, just to create rapport. Not only can this seem desperate and off-putting, but it can also dent your credibility!

Tip 2:

Laughter is a great tool for building rapport, but do use humour with care. Not everyone can tell a joke, and what might seem like acceptable sarcasm to you could cause offense to somebody else. If you think there’s a possibility that a comment might be taken the wrong way, don’t make it.

4. Create Shared Experiences

Rapport can’t grow without human interaction, and a great way to interact is to create new, shared experiences. Shared experiences can be as simple as attending the same conference session together, or as complex as cooperating on a new management process. Working collaboratively to define problems, devise solutions, and design strategies, for example, can help to bring you and the other person closer.

5. Be Empathic

Empathy is about understanding other people by seeing things from their perspective, and recognizing their emotions. So, to understand and share another person’s perspective, you need to learn what makes them tick. As we’ve already mentioned, many people enjoy talking about their likes and dislikes, needs and wants, and problems and successes, so ask open-ended questions and give them space to talk. You need to really hear what they say, so that you can respond intelligently and with curiosity. So, it’s important to be a good listener, and to fine-tune your emotional intelligence.


It’s hard to establish rapport with someone who wants to talk only about themselves, so try to balance the conversation. Aim to share as much as the other person does. You’ll both feel more comfortable as a result.

6. Mirror and Match

Research shows that we prefer people who we perceive to be just like ourselves. Mirroring and matching are techniques for building rapport by making yourself more like the other person.


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