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4 Effective Ways to Build Rapport in the Workplace

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Reflect for a moment—who do you get along with best at work?

It’s probably with the colleagues you are in sync with and find them easy to talk to.

This is what rapport is all about. Rapport is what we experience in relationships that are harmonious, full of empathy, and have a foundation of strong collaboration and communication.

When colleagues have good rapport in the workplace, each person can truly do their best work and enjoy the time they spend with each other. It also ensures that they are working together to reach mutually beneficial outcomes, so that all parties walk away feeling valued, heard, and that they achieved their aims.

Building rapport is an important skill to develop. There are four powerful ways to help build rapport at work: demonstrate attentiveness, do some recon work to identify similarities, direct the conversation about them, and develop your appreciation.

Let’s look at each one further in-depth:

1. Demonstrate attentiveness

The first effective step in building rapport at work is demonstrating attentiveness. You want to show your colleagues that the most important thing to you is the conversation at hand. You can do this through both verbal and non-verbal cues:

Non-verbal cues: This refers to what you do with your body. Attentive body language is an open posture (i.e., no crossed arms), eye contact, nodding along, or smiling. These cues are very powerful because they show the “real” you—not just what you are choosing to say.

Verbal cues: It’s important to show that you are fully involved with the conversation by using techniques like paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions. You may also want to converse on a more personal level, but try to err on the side of caution when asking personal questions by looking for signals that they want to talk about their personal life.

2. Do some recon work

No, we’re not talking about spying on someone or invading their privacy! This kind of recon work is just keeping your ears and eyes open about things that they share or demonstrate is important to them. You want to find some commonalities between the two of you. For example, perhaps their children go to the same school as you, or you have similar interests.

When you do this kind of recon work to find commonalities, you can identify what they care about—it gives you a glimpse into their core values. These values are what drives them and informs how they make decisions. It can be helpful, therefore, to keep these in mind when talking and building rapport at work. You will get a better understanding of where they are coming from.

3. Direct the conversation about them

Start by offering information about yourself. To set the tone of the conversation, you can start by sharing something that is a bit deeper or more personal. This gives the other person permission to open up and be themselves; you’ve created a safe and comfortable space for them to speak.

Match their actions. If the conversation is all about them, take their lead. A practical example is when you are out for a coffee or meal, order something similar to what they are. You don’t want to be sitting there with a steak dinner if they just ordered an appetizer! Let them take the lead in both the activity and the conversation.

Connect emotionally. If they are leading the conversation and sharing about themselves, make sure that you are responding. Celebrate with them if they share a win or empathize if they share something difficult.

4. Develop your appreciation

One way to build rapport at work is by approaching each conversation with the mindset that everyone has a worthwhile trait. What is it about them that is worthy of praise? Consider it and find a quality that is interesting, unique, or impressive. Encourage and praise them in that quality. This will establish you as a trustworthy person who is on their side. Appreciating people builds rapport in the workplace because it makes people feel valued.

Remember, rapport doesn’t always come naturally. There may be some colleagues that you find it easy to connect to, but with others it takes some work. Implement these techniques and see how well you do at building rapport at work!

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