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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Schneider

How To Create Rapport

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

In this blogpost you will learn:

Why do some people just get along with each other, and others just can't stand each other?

You sure have seen those types, those rare few who seem to connect with everybody around them.

And it all seems to happen so easily and automatically.

Yeah, for them.

Then there is the other side of the coin, when you really want to get along with your new boss, or land a deal with that client but for some strange reasons you both do not seem to connect anywhere.

It doesn’t “click” somehow.

So what is the difference between connecting greatly with people or failing at it?

The answer lies in whether you know how to build good rapport with someone or not.

And whether you are working in sales or any other field of business, getting along with people will always be an important task.

What is Rapport?

There is so much rumor going on about rapport building with people and how important it is. If you work in a field like sales, I am sure you come across this topic again and again.

But in practice, hardly anyone really knows how to create rapport with the other person, instead in real life it very often happens simply by chance and is afterwards declared as mere coincidence or “a good deal”.

But whenever rapport building fails, the description of the situation might sound more like this: “that was just a strange guy” or “they just aren't ready to buy”.

Rapport is the invisible transfer of feelings that Zig Ziglar has spoken about when he said: “a sale is a transfer of feelings from one person to the other.”

create rapport
Some people are easy to connect with - others not.

You can imagine it like an invisible connection that either gets established between two or more people, or it does not get established.

If it is created successfully, we feel sympathy for the other person, we are much more likely to trust them or - wait for it - buy from them.

If rapport fails to be created, we often have the uncertain gut feeling that something is wrong with the other person or what they tell us.

We are thus mentally alarmed deep in our subconscious, which often results in wanting the other person to leave the scene as soon as possible.

Rapport is obviously a major factor in how many deals you will close if you are working in sales, but also how good you will get along with people in general.

And while there is no surefire approach that will guarantee rapport, there are a number of tactics you could use to highly increase your chances of getting rapport.

Here we will show you 6 ways to create rapport that are the most effective we have tested and used:


1. People like people, like themselves

How to build Rapport
The more we have in common, the better our Rapport.

Think for a moment about a person you really liked from the first moment on.

That kind of person with whom you just connected from the start without any effort on either side.

Why did you like them, what was it that made you feel good about them inside?

And then think for a moment about a person you totally dislike.

You know, the guy who has never done any harm to you or otherwise, but you just can't stand this person anyway because there is something about him that upsets you.

What makes you feel that way about the other person?

Why do you dislike them exactly?

And what makes you like one person but dislike the other?

Where is the border between those two extremes?

Without knowing much about you, chances are high that with the person you like there is something you have in common.

It can literally be anything:

Maybe you have been in school together, you like the same kind of music, or you share the same political opinion, etc.

And the opposite may be the case with the person you dislike:

The person comes from another side of town, he or she supports a different football team, they have a totally different style of dressing, etc.

The saying “birds of the same feather flock together” is very true in building rapport, or you probably have also heard the expression that people like people like themselves.

If we perceive that someone is like we are ourselves, it brings us into a different mental state.

The first thing if we meet someone new for the first time, is a mixture of discomfort and carefully observing what the other person talks about, how he or she behaves and how we should respond to it accordingly.

It is almost like two dogs when they see and sniff each other to get to know the other dog, only a little more cultivated.

Subconsciously we try to detect if the other person can be harmful for us or if the situation could be threatening.

This is a survival procedure deeply implanted into the reptile-part of our brain, which unfortunately still today has a strong influence on us and how we behave.

By showing similarity with the other person, you signal them subconsciously that you are a friend, and that in turn brings their mental alertness and defenses down.

To talk about a topic you and your prospect are enthusiastic about, or to have had experiences in common like growing up in the same neighborhood, knowing the same people or sharing the same hobby can create instant connections between you and them.

It helps immensely when you want to build rapport with someone.

You can find common ground by asking lots of questions.

People love to talk about themselves, and this gives you the opportunity to discover a little about their life so far, their values, expectations and more.

Open-ended questions work very well in this regard.

Look for anything that you can relate to, or that stirs up a topic that you can agree on with the other person.

The more things you both have incommon, can agree on or share the same opinion, the easier it will be to establish rapport.


2. Mirroring

buil rapport with someone
If movements from our bodies are similar, a subconscious connections gets formed.

But what to do if you seem to have no common ground with the other person?

Even then there is plenty that can help you to achieve similarity between you and the prospect.

Just look at two people who get along well with each other, like a couple who have been married for years or some good friends who have already been together since childhood.

If you come to observe such people in a public scene, you will find interesting patterns appearing:

If one person drinks from a cup, so does the other.

One of them leans forward in the chair, the other leans forward too.

One person starts to fold their arms, the other person does the same.

Their bodies are in perfect synchrony most of the time, like dancers performing on stage. The interesting thing about this is that it happens totally unconsciously - none of the observed persons will afterwards admit that they behaved like their counterpart.

They are not aware of it, but it still seems to be some kind of a bonding process that links their movements and gestures to each other.

And you can purposefully use this bonding behaviour to build rapport with the other person.

You start acting like a mirror image of the other person, and subconsciously this signals that you are like them.

This little mental trick will help you to create rapport with that person.

Watch how the other person behaves, how he breathes, how he moves his arms.

Does he lean forward in the chair? Then you should lean forward too.

Are their feet in a straight position to each other or crossed? Again you should do the same.

Is he sitting casually or straight? You should have a similar position.

What is the gesture the other person is using, are his arms always moving when he speaks?

By now you probably already know what you should do.

Even if it feels a little awkward the first time you do this, this form of mirroring can cause you to bond with a lot of people much easier than you normally would.

It shows their subconscious mind that you obviously must be a friend as you even move in the same way as they do and thereby appear more trustworthy.

Many people also worry about being detected on what they are doing by the other person.

It sounds reasonable, after all you are acting like their mirror image.

But for some strange reasons, this behaviour will not be noticed at all.

Like the good friends who are not a bit aware that they behave so similarly, your counterpart will have no clue what is going on, but instead the chances are high that he or she will like you.

And that can be used to your advantage for building rapport.

When you begin to do this for the first time, it might feel a bit awkward I admit.

But as soon as you have done it a few times, it will start to come naturally.


3. Mirror the Tonality and Speech patterns

create rapport
On the phone, verbal mirroring is often the only option you have.

This form of verbal mirroring does actually the same as mirroring the body language, only on a different level.

The effects will be quite the same, meaning you increase your chances of being perceived as trustworthy, honest and to be liked by your counterpart.

The next best thing if there is no common topic to talk about is to mimic the other person's tone of voice.

Tone of voice is actually a lot easier to mimic than other forms of behaviour and so you should always try at first to adjust your way of speaking.

That means if the prospect talks fast and with a high pitched voice, you talk fast and with a high pitched voice too.

If the prospect talks slow and with a deep tone of voice, you do the same.

If the other person takes a deep breath before responding, you take a deep breath too before starting your next sentence.

Like mirroring the body language, mirroring tonality has strong subconscious effects on us.

The way we speak is connected to how we think and organize our thoughts, it also leaves clues to whether that person is more linked to visual stimuli or to more kinesthetic, for example.

What makes mirroring the tonality very useful is that you can also do it over the phone, or nowadays in online conferences.

It is therefore not restricted to personal meetings only and gives you a much broader field of use for building rapport with other people.


4. Have a solid physical appearance

Appearance to build rapport
People shouldn't judge on appearance. But they do.

We all know that you shouldn’t judge people based on their looks.

But here's a fun fact:

People will judge you based on your looks.

It is better to get realistic rather than have wishful thinking of a politically correct society.

The world isn’t always like we would like it to be.

Your looks matter, and people will create their first impression largely based on what they see in the first fraction of a second.

This process happens subconsciously and automatically - we all do it and we cannot help it. Our brains are wired that way and send us signals in milliseconds about whether the other person might be appropriate for us or not.

For example if an attractive person of the opposite sex enters the room - how long does it take for you to notice? 2 seconds? 1 second?

You recognise it in an instant and totally automatic.

The same happens when you enter a room as a businessperson or salesperson.

People notice you and make judgements on what they see in a timeframe that doesn’t even allow the blink of an eye.

Therefore, make sure you are properly dressed especially when meeting someone for the first time.

If you are in doubt what to wear, it is advisable to always be a little better dressed than the other person.

Better to be overdressed than under-dressed.

You can always release your tie, roll up your sleeves or leave the jacket in the car.

But it is impossible to hide your flip-flop or that hawai-shirt you are wearing if the meeting happens to be not as casual as you expected it to be.

Of course there are also no excuses for a lack of personal hygiene!

Make sure that for example your fingernails are cut especially when you're presenting something to a client with your hands.

The same goes for bad breath or all similar things that are human and can happen - but not when you want to create rapport.

In short: Be well-dressed, look good and smell good.

This will make building rapport with someone much easier from the start.


5. Create common ground to build rapport

creating rapport
There is always something you can agree on. If not, you can make it.

You and the other person have absolutely nothing in common?

There is not a single thing you can agree or connect upon?

Well, then just make something you have in common.

You could attend the same seminar, watch the same sports events, dine in the same restaurants and then have a conversation about how it was afterwards!

If you asked enough open-ended questions in the first phase, you should have gotten at least some information that will help you to find what the other person likes or is interested in.

This tactic thus only works for a second meeting with the other person, but nevertheless it can be very powerful.

If they recommended only a movie or a nice place for hiking on the weekend, and you actually followed up on it - this already enhances their status in the conversation.

Eventually it makes people feel good about themselves.

It can be a major step in building rapport with the other person.


6. Be interested in the other person

creating rapport in sales
There is no way to fake interest in the other person for rapport.

There are some things in life you can fake or work around them.

But not the sincere, honest interest in another person if we want to create rapport.

The problem is, what if the person is really not that interesting.

In such a case what could you do?

Try to actively listen to what the person has to say, see the world from their perspective. Listen really without thinking about your answer and what you are going to say.

Look for anything that sparks the other person’s emotions and that makes their eyes light up. The more passion you can ignite in a topic, the better for creating rapport.

Ask what they like about things, what they dislike about others and create empathy as best as you can for building rapport.

Also pay attention to your body language. Be open, keep eye-contact and have a smile on your face.

If it is appropriate to the situation, you can bring a joke or some kind of humor into the conversation.

Using Rapport In Your Daily life

Making yourself as much like the other person as you can and showing a high level of empathy will usually be the best chance at creating this seemingly “magic” to create rapport.

This includes your body language, your tone of voice, facial expressions and even the topic of the conversation.

You might want to prepare these things in advance to really max out your chances for building rapport with the other person.

Using only one of these tactics can certainly help already, but to make sure you get the most out of it I suggest you try to combine them and use as many of these tactics as you can at once in a conversation.

Anyway, be aware that there simply exist no “magnetic field for humans” that you could activate and be the other person’s best friend every time.

Some people will also be more receptive to such behaviour, and in other situations it might hardly change anything.

Try it in your own daily life and see what works best for you.

One final hint: you can also use these tactics in your private life as well ;)

Keep your dream alive!

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