As human beings, we are infinitely attuned to one another.
From birth, we were dependent on others for our survival. And so we quickly learnt how to get attention; how to reach-out and connect; how to get the things we needed.
In later life, we can forget or unlearn some of those principles that have previously served us.
We might start attaching to beliefs like “I’m just not a social person” or “I never know what to say”. Or we might start dreaming-up and fearing our worst-case scenarios. Or we might put too much onus on status and feel we can’t connect with someone at that level; or that we simply don’t belong.
And so we forget that, in the end, we’re all still just people. And that we all love to connect.
The first basis of building rapport
Building rapport is about reducing the differences, amplifying the commonality – and all whilst staying true to our own nature and values.
The first basis for rapport is physiology: how we stand and move. When we align our physiology with another person, they feel more at ease with us on an unconscious level. And if that sounds at all contrived or deceitful to you, notice that this is what we all do already, when we like someone.
So here are 4 quick body language checks moves to get you thinking about how you can increase rapport, even before you’ve uttered a word.
1/ General physiology
Notice the overall speed at which a person is moving and talking. There’s no need to “match” them exactly. Just a slight moderation to reduce the differences between you.
If someone stands or sits in a very upright position, you too can become a little more upright.
Meet a firm handshake with a firm handshake of your own. Likewise, gentle handshakes won’t appreciate a vice-like grip in return!
Does your counterpart use a lot of gestures? Are they lively and energetic? Or small and subtle? You don’t need to copy their gestures: but modulating your own gestures to be of similar size, speed and frequency will align you both.
The great misunderstanding of rapport
Rapport can be misunderstood as copying people. It’s not. People don’t like to be copied: it feels like mocking.
Genuine (physiological) rapport is far more subtle than blatant imitation. It’s about minimising differences, not replicating behaviours.
Creating rapport with new people takes practice. But it will quickly stop feeling like work, in the same way it’s no work at all to create rapport naturally with our friends and family.
Good rapport is effortless. Make that your goal.