Good rapport refers to positive relationships, often in the workplace or in other work-related settings. By building a good rapport, you will improve your office's atmosphere and strengthen your connections both personally and professionally. In this article we will discuss the benefits of good rapport, how to build it and the best situations to consider building rapport.
Who should I build rapport with?
Firstly, let's look at who to build rapport with. Ideally, you should aim to have a good rapport with everybody you meet in your professional life. However, some specific people with who you should seek out a good rapport are:
- Your boss or manager
- Any employees working underneath you
- Colleagues who you are in close contact with throughout your work or who you see every day
- Representatives from other businesses who collaborate with your company
- Suppliers to your business
This is not an exhaustive list. Often, you will find opportunities with unlikely people. Therefore, it's essential to build rapport with as many people as possible.
Why should I build rapport?
Building rapport can help you in numerous ways. Firstly, it will enable you to foster positive workplace relationships, leading to more productivity in the office. Rapport can also help with business collaboration and communication. Having a good working relationship with other professionals in your industry will help you further your career, such as changing companies to secure a more senior position.
Building rapport can help you feel inspired. The more people you speak to, the more likely you are to meet inspirational characters in your field. These people may inspire your work, help you develop your skills or enable you to achieve your career goals. Rapport can help you get tasks done quicker. If you build rapport with people around you who are involved in your day to day work, you will save a lot of time when it comes to collaborative tasks.
Building rapport with people around you will help you to forge new connections and give you more opportunities. These could be ideas for your company. You could strike up a conversation with a collaborative business representative, for example. Alternatively, having a good rapport with other industry professionals could help you to advance in your career independently.
It's essential to build rapport with those hiring you. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but building rapport will help make the interview more pleasant and increase the chances of hiring. Leaving a lasting impression on your interviewer by building rapport could give you more of a chance of promotion in the future, or if your application was unsuccessful, your interviewers might consider you for future positions.
How to build rapport
Building rapport can be daunting, especially if you are naturally introverted. Here are some useful tips for building good rapport:
While building rapport can certainly have some beneficial elements, as we have explored, it's essential to be genuine when meeting and communicating with people. The idea of building workplace relationships is to help each other, so you should consider that in your approach.
Remember the person's name and other details
If you have already met somebody, try to remember their name and work position, as well as anything else notable that they have told you. If you struggle with this, make sure that you ask for their business card and store them in a book, which you can refer to when you need them.
Ask questions about the person's life
Don't be too intrusive, but don't make all of your questions about the workplace. Ask them about their interests and hobbies and see if you can find any similarities that you can build a workplace relationship on.
For example, if you discover that you are both interested in rock climbing, you will always have a topic to open a conversation with in the future.
Similarly, answer any questions positively and with detail to help the other person to find common ground with you.
Make sure that you speak equally
Ensure that you aren't doing all the talking or not talking enough - find a healthy balance between questions on both sides and statements. Furthermore, try to make the topic as interesting and dynamic as possible.
Use welcoming body language
Face the person you are talking to, make eye contact and smile. Defensive body language, such as folded arms, turning away from the other person or looking away from them will make them feel uncomfortable in the conversation.
Don't worry if you struggle at first
Socialising can be daunting for some people and if you struggle with the above at first, don't let it concern you. Over time, you will learn how to socialise better and feel more comfortable with people.
Remember that nobody can naturally converse with everybody - if you find it difficult to speak to a particular person, respectfully leave that conversation and try again with somebody else.
Best times to build rapport
The best times to build rapport with people include networking events, interviews and during the office workday.
Networking events are one of the best times to build rapport, but they can also be intimidating events. However, most people at networking events experience similar emotions - the idea of these events are to talk to people you don't know. While this can be overwhelming, they also pose excellent opportunities to meet people.
Bearing this in mind, approach people who look interesting - maybe they are standing on their own or are part of a group having a conversation that you can join in. If you have never met the person before, you can start by introducing yourself and asking them some questions about themselves.
Easy questions that you could ask include:
- What is your job?
- What brings you to this event?
- Are you based in this city?
Using their answers, you can try to find some talking points to further the conversation. After the initial discussion, suggest that you swap business cards or contact information.
After the event, send an email to anyone who you enjoyed conversing with, anybody who may be able to help you with your career or anybody who you could help.
Interviews are excellent places to build a rapport. You can strike up a casual conversation with anybody in the office who is eager to chat - from the receptionist to other colleagues. However, it is most important to forge a good connection with your interviewer.
If you find that you have hobbies and interests in common with your interviewer and they can see that you are a friendly, approachable person, you will have a much greater chance of securing the position.
When building rapport in interviews, try firstly to assess the attitude of your interviewer. If they seem busy and are quite blunt, you should answer their questions concisely. However, most interviewers are prepared to talk, often about non-work related topics.
If your interviewer indicates this, you can discuss some of your hobbies and interests in the hope of finding things in common. If your interviewer mentions that they also have a certain interest or another similarity such as being from the same city, it may be appropriate to expand on this a little. However, it's crucial that you listen to your prospective employer and let them steer the conversation.
In the workplace
Most employees of a particular company naturally connect with and even befriend some colleagues. However, some workplace relationships may not be as familiar. Here are some things to consider when building rapport in the workplace:
Show an interest in your colleague's personal life
Make sure that you aren't talking about non-work related topics while you have a pressing deadline, but you could ask your colleague some more casual questions at the start or end of the day or during your lunch break.
Simple questions like asking how their weekend was will show you as a friendly and approachable person and open up the possibility of further conversation.
If your colleague has told you about their children before, ask about them the next time you speak. Remembering little details about the other person and their life will demonstrate that you are a thoughtful person and will help build the conversation going forward.
Keep conversations polite when necessary
While you will likely befriend some of your colleagues, others will command a more polite and professional relationship. It's important to know which situation calls for which type of conversation and not become too casual with people who prefer to be formal.
Avoid taboo topics
You should avoid some topics, like politics and religion, when building workplace rapport, as they can cause tension and even arguments. There are exceptions - colleagues may discuss these topics if they have a more casual workplace relationship, or sometimes the business's nature means that colleagues must discuss these topics.
You will know when it is appropriate to discuss these kinds of topics, but the general rule is not to broach them initially.
Building rapport is an essential part of your professional life. Using this article as a guide, you will be able to deepen your rapport-building skills and make better connections with the people around you.