Rapport, so what is it? There are a number of definitions but all are very similar.
Rapport is “A close harmonious relationship in which people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
The Cambridge English dictionary defines Rapport as: “A good understanding of someone and the ability to communicate with them.”
Both of these definitions make sense and seem straight forward. From our years of working with individuals, groups and corporate organisations we can assure you this skill is rarely used and when it is people are using the skills without knowing it.
The one word that we do not always agree with is UNDERSTAND each other’s feelings. Sometimes you can never understand how someone else is feeling as you may never have had a similar experience. We like to say TRY to understand, put yourself in their shoes and try to feel what they are feeling. The famous American proverb states “Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Understanding the Power of Rapport and the ability to influence others is a skill that can be used in everyday situations. Closing that sales deal, negotiating a discount on a purchase, dealing with conflict, having difficult conversations, team performance, salary increase, family disputes to name just a few.
To build Rapport, there needs to be something in common, a connection, a subconscious thought there is something about them that I like. People like people who are like themselves, people do not like people who are not like themselves! A statement that is so very true.
Once in Rapport, we can assure you that no difficult conversation is difficult! If it becomes difficult then you are not in Rapport, start again, gain that Rapport, and continue with the conversation.
We worked with one person who felt they should be part of the executive directors’ board in a large financial institution. He needed to have a difficult conversation with the CEO explaining that he felt his performance and behaviours proved that he was worthy of his place. We worked on his ability to gain full rapport with others, so he was confident to have the conversation. He had the conversation, and the CEO was waiting for him to ask the question. Needless to say, he is now on the board. As soon as the meeting had finished, he telephoned us and said, “you guys are like jedi’s when it comes to communication and influencing others!”
As George Bernard Shaw once said “If you teach a man anything he will never learn.” Most of us learn by doing, so what we are saying, if you want to get that deal, make that difference, influence other people’s behaviours then you need to start taking action from today.
Next time you meet someone make the conversation about them, make them important, listen to what they have to say, look for a name badge and use their name, look to see if there’s something they are wearing that is important to them and refer to it. This will not be easy at first, and will feel strange, take the time to practice and develop the skill. You will be amazed at the difference that it will have your relationships!