Let’s talk about Rapport

by Robyn Forester, CEO AILC


Rapport is one of the more powerful tools that we can have in our communication tool kit.  Rapport is the ability to relate to others in a way that creates a level of trust and understanding.  It is an important feature or characteristic of unconscious human interaction.  We commonly referred to as being in “sync” or on the “same page” as the person with whom you are interacting with. 

 Strengthen your rapport techniques

There are a number of techniques that help build rapport such as matching body language and breathing rhythm; or maintaining eye contact. In addition to the visual cues that we use to build rapport is also important to consider your voice, especially your tone referring to pitch and frequency; tempo meaning speed, pace and rhythm and timbre which is the quality and characteristics of the voice.  So if you are talking with someone who is quietly spoken and at a slower pace than you, it is important to not speak loudly or too quickly as they may feel that you are talking over them.  I am not suggesting that you slow your speed right down or you speak extra soft,  but that you be aware of your delivery.  Using matching and mirroring techniques to establish rapport through body movement and gestures will help as you pace and / or lead a conversation. 

Rapport is understanding, not necessarily liking

It is a common misunderstanding that rapport is all about getting the other person to like you and whilst that is often a nice outcome of having rapport, it is not the core of rapport.  Rapport means that you are demonstrating an understanding of the other person’s model of the world or what we sometimes refer to as their “Map”.  In the coaching arena we talk a lot about ones “Map” recognising that not everyone has the same Map and that we should not impose our Map on others.

 Give rapport a go

So next time you are having a conversation think about Rapport.  Think about what it is that you “do, hear, say and feel” in order to reach a successful outcome. Respect the other person’s time, energy and most importantly their Map.  Just as these are important resources for them, they are also important reminders for you.