Rapport is the foundation of any successful relationship, whether personal or professional. It helps you connect with others, build trust, and communicate effectively. However, rapport is not always appropriate or beneficial. Sometimes, you need to break rapport and establish boundaries to protect yourself, your goals, or your reputation. Today we will discuss some common rapport-building mistakes that can backfire or damage your reputation, and how to avoid them or correct them.
When to Break Rapport
Rapport is not always desirable or appropriate. In certain situations, it may be necessary to break rapport and establish boundaries to assert yourself, your values, or your interests. For instance, if you are dealing with someone who is abusive, manipulative, or disrespectful, or if you are facing a conflict of interest, a disagreement, or a negotiation, it may be necessary to break rapport. Additionally, if you are in a position of authority, responsibility, or leadership, or if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or uncomfortable, or if you are compromising your integrity, identity, or goals, it may be necessary to break rapport.
It is still possible to establish boundaries and assert your values whilst maintaining rapport. But, it is important to recognise when rapport building becomes a one-way street and adjust your approach accordingly.
How to Break Rapport
Breaking rapport does not mean being rude, hostile, or aggressive; rather, it involves creating a respectful distance, a clear distinction, or a firm stance. To do this, you can change your verbal and non-verbal cues, such as tone, volume, pace, posture, and eye contact. Additionally, you can use assertive language, such as “I”, “no”, “thank you”, and “I disagree”. Furthermore, setting and enforcing boundaries, such as time, space, and expectations, can help you break rapport. Additionally, expressing your opinions, feelings, and needs without blaming, judging, or attacking, as well as asking questions, challenging assumptions, and requesting evidence, can all help you break rapport.
In a way, this can result in an even stronger rapport being built.
If the person you’re dealing with receives clear feedback from you in an un-judgmental, assertive but professional way – they may come to realise that their own approach was unnecessary, and even take learnings from your approach to expressing your thoughts and feelings, without the need to become hostile.
This, in turn, can create a new level of respect and trust – both great bi-products of building rapport.
How to Restore Rapport
Breaking rapport does not mean ending the relationship or burning bridges; rather, it is about creating a healthy balance between connection and autonomy, similarity and difference, and cooperation and competition. To restore rapport, you can acknowledge and validate the other person’s perspective, feelings, and values without agreeing or conceding. Additionally, you can apologize and repair any harm, misunderstanding, or resentment that may have occurred. Furthermore, finding common ground, shared interests, or mutual goals can bring you closer, as can offering support, appreciation, or feedback that can enhance the relationship. Finally, re-establishing rapport by matching or mirroring their verbal and non-verbal cues, when appropriate and genuine, can help to strengthen the relationship.
How to Avoid Rapport-Building Mistakes
Rapport-building is not a one-size-fits-all technique and requires sensitivity, adaptability, and authenticity. To avoid rapport-building mistakes that can backfire or damage your reputation, it is important to be aware of your own and the other person’s communication style, personality, and preferences. Additionally, you should be respectful of the other person’s culture, background, and beliefs, as well as mindful of the context, purpose, and expectations of the interaction. Moreover, it is essential to be honest, transparent, and consistent in your words and actions, as well as flexible, open-minded, and willing to learn from the feedback and the outcomes.