Building rapport with people is an essential component of work life. Whether you are doing sales, working in a team or negotiating business deals, communicating and interacting with others is inevitable and unavoidable.
An individual's ability to create rapport not only influences the nature of the relationship, it also directly contributes to its desired outcome. Like it or not, the success of many business activities depends on rapport.
Since we cannot stop communicating with others, we should strive to build strong rapport during each interaction and make the conversation, negotiation or partnership more fruitful.
Here are some myths and truths about rapport and communication:
Myth #1: Some people are just born great communicators
Being able to communicate effectively has been perceived as a behavioural trait of a sociable, outgoing and extroverted personality. Hence, it is commonly perceived to be an inherent quality.
On the other hand, people with more reserved dispositions or quieter personalities are associated with being less able to communicate well.
Truth #1: Creating rapport is a skill that can be acquired
Skills can be acquired and regardless of your personality and preferred style of communication, there are surefire techniques of building rapport.
For instance, maintaining eye contact during a conversation is a good way to create rapport. Offer eye contact in moderation so that it appears non-threatening and you are giving attention at a comfortable level.
Myth #2: A person who talks a lot is a great communicator
If you talk about yourself a lot and enjoy dominating a conversation, you may be surprised to find that the person at the receiving end may feel the lack of rapport in the interaction.
Don't be caught off guard with the feedback that the other person doesn't feel "listened to".
Truth #2: Listening is key
You may come across as someone with a reserved disposition or a person of few words who prefers to let others take the driver's seat in a conversation. If you have these tendencies, creating rapport is well within your grasp. If you enjoy listening to others, you may already be a master at bonding with others.
Often, your interest in others shows in powerful and non-verbal ways, such as hearing the person out attentively and acknowledging what he or she says with "uh-huh" or "I see".
Myth #3: Consciously trying to create rapport feels strange
Creating rapport may not come naturally for many people but it gets better with practice.
No one can deny that working relationships and collaborations are enhanced significantly with rapport. Positive communication at the workplace offers many benefits beyond the tangible and immediate ones.
Truth #3: Practice makes perfect -- anyone can master it
Creating rapport is similar to acquiring a new skill and anyone can master it. Keep at it and you will become a master at creating rapport some day.
Building rapport encourages a flow of conversation and you may find yourself enjoying conversations more and making deeper connections. The value you place on rapport will correspond with the emphasis you give it during your conversation.
If you find the spark missing in your relationship with others, it is time to work on your communication skills. Resolve to listen more and make sure you maintain comfortable eye contact with the person you are talking to. As you develop good rapport with others, notice the change in the quality of your conversation.
Try it the next time you are talking to someone at work -- be it your supervisor, colleague, subordinate, client or vendor. Doing it regularly will enable you to have better and more productive relationships at work.