How To Build Rapport: The Key To Strong Relationships


How To Build Rapport: The Key To Strong Relationships

Discover the importance of knowing how to build rapport for establishing relationships in life. Learn this vital social skill to connect with everyone you meet.
How to build rapport

As social creatures, we humans have an innate desire to, connect with others, and establish relationships. However, building strong and lasting connections requires more than just a willingness to socialize with new people or engage in social activities.

It requires a fundamental skill: Building Rapport.

Building rapport can involve various techniques, including:

  • Active listening
  • Finding common interests
  • Using similar body language and tone of voice
  • Showing empathy and understanding

The goal of building rapport is to establish a positive and long-lasting relationship with others for the purpose of making friends, advancing your career, or flirting and finding love. Knowing how to build rapport is a critical aspect of achieving success in all of these areas of life.

What is building rapport?

Building rapport is the process of establishing a connection with someone else by creating mutual trust, understanding, and harmony. It involves reading the room and know how to create a sense of comfort and ease between individuals, which can lead to stronger relationships, better communication, and increased cooperation.

When we establish rapport with someone, it’s like two pieces of a puzzle coming together perfectly. Communication flows effortlessly, and we are able to connect on a deeper level. Without this foundation, progress becomes stagnant, and relationships cannot flourish. In short, if you aspire to cultivate meaningful connections, it all begins with the art of building rapport.

How do we build rapport?

By learning to be approachable and developing a sense of comfort in new people you meet, you can establish the foundation for better communication and understanding with others.

Building rapport starts with making a genuine effort to understand and connect with the other person. This involves active listening, being present, and showing empathy.

When you actively listen, you show that you value the other person’s perspective, which can lead to greater trust and understanding. Being present means putting aside distractions and giving the other person your full attention. And when you show empathy, you demonstrate that you care about the other person’s feelings and are willing to put yourself in their shoes.

Another way to build rapport is to find common ground with the other person. This could be shared interests, sense of humor, hobbies, or experiences. When you find something you both have in common, it can be a great conversation starter and can help create a sense of connection.

How To Build Rapport: The Most Important Rapport Building Skills

Rapport building skills refer to the techniques and strategies that individuals use to develop a harmonious relationship with others and help individuals create more meaningful and productive relationships in both personal and professional settings.

The key to building rapport is authenticity. When you’re genuine and authentic, people can sense it, and they’re more likely to trust and connect with you. This means being yourself, being honest, and being open. It also means showing a willingness to listen and understand the other person’s perspective.

Another key to building rapport is to be patient. Building strong relationships takes time, and it’s important to be patient and allow the process to unfold naturally. Rushing the process can come across as insincere and can actually hinder the development of rapport.

By actively listening, being present, showing empathy, finding common ground, mirroring behavior, showing enthusiasm and positivity, and being authentic and patient, you can build strong connections with others that can last a lifetime.

1. Active Listening

Active listening involves giving the other person your full attention and demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Research has shown that active listening can improve relationships and enhance communication (Brownell, 1990). Techniques such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and providing verbal feedback can help convey your attentiveness and understanding.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It involves putting yourself in another person’s shoes and acknowledging their emotions. Studies suggest that empathy is a crucial component of strong relationships and effective communication (Decety & Jackson, 2004).

3. Authenticity and Honesty

Being genuine and sincere in your interactions with others means being true to yourself and not pretending to be someone you’re not. Authenticity and honesty have been linked to increased trust and improved relationships in both personal and professional contexts (Gino, F. Gino, Norton, & Ariely., 2010).

4. Appropriate Touch

Touch can build rapport as it has the power to communicate warmth, trust, and intimacy, creating a sense of connection and closeness. Research suggests that when used appropriately and respectfully, touch can enhance social interactions, strengthen relationships, and even reduce stress and anxiety (Gallace & Spence, 2010). Be mindful of cultural differences and personal boundaries when using touch as a rapport-building tool.

5. Finding Common Ground

Identifying shared interests, hobbies, or experiences with the other person can help create a sense of connection and rapport. Research has shown that similarity breeds attraction, leading to more positive interactions and stronger relationships (Byrne, 1971).

6. Positive Attitude

A positive and enthusiastic attitude can help create a positive first impression and build rapport quickly. Studies have shown that positive emotions are contagious, and people are drawn to others who display optimism and happiness (Hatfield et al., 1993).

7. Humor and Inside Jokes

Humor and inside jokes build rapport because they create a shared experience between individuals and establish a sense of trust and understanding. Research indicates that when people laugh together, they feel more comfortable and connected, leading to stronger relationships and deeper bonds (Kurtz & Algoe, 2015).

8. Open-Mindedness

Being open to different perspectives and ideas can help create a sense of understanding and trust between individuals. Research suggests that open-mindedness fosters better communication, reduces conflict, and contributes to positive relationships (Sternberg et al., 1997). Keep judgment at bay and be receptive to the thoughts and opinions of others.

Learning to effectively build rapport with a wide range of individuals is a valuable skill that can be developed over time. The ability to create a strong connection with others can improve personal and professional relationships, enhance communication, and foster collaboration. 

Is it possible to build rapport quickly?

Very often, building rapport with a new person can take time, but there are ways to accelerate the process. One effective method is to mirror the other person’s behavior. Mirroring involves subtly imitating the other person’s body language, tone of voice, and gestures. It creates a sense of familiarity and comfort, which can help establish a connection. Mirroring can be especially effective in dating and flirting.

Additionally, showing enthusiasm and positivity is also an effective way to quickly build rapport. When you’re excited about something, it’s contagious, and others are more likely to feel the same way. By showcasing your positive energy, you can create a lasting first impression and establish a strong connection with others.

How to build rapport in a job interview

Building rapport in an interview is important as it can help create a positive connection with the interviewer, which can increase your chances of success. Here are some ways to build rapport in an interview:

1. Research the company

Do your research on the company before the interview and be knowledgeable about their mission, values, and culture. Familiarize yourself with their products or services, recent news, and key achievements. This will show that you are genuinely interested in the position and have taken the time to prepare.

2. Show enthusiasm

Show enthusiasm and positivity during the interview. Smile, make eye contact, and use positive language. Demonstrate your excitement about the opportunity and express how your skills and experiences align with the role and the company’s values.

3. Engage in active listening

Listen actively to the interviewer’s questions and respond thoughtfully. Show that you are engaged in the conversation and interested in what they have to say. Engage in small talk, nod your head in agreement, maintain eye contact, and give verbal cues, such as “yes” or “I understand,” to demonstrate your attentiveness.

4. Use the interviewer’s name

Using the interviewer’s name when addressing them can help create a personal connection and show that you are paying attention. Repeat their name occasionally during the conversation to reinforce the connection and demonstrate your interest in building a relationship with them.

5. Find common ground

Identify shared interests or experiences with the interviewer and use them as conversation starters. Whether it’s a mutual connection, a shared hobby, or a similar background, finding common ground can help establish rapport and make the conversation more memorable and enjoyable.

6. Be authentic

Be genuine and authentic in your responses, and avoid giving rehearsed answers. Show your personality and be yourself to help the interviewer get a better sense of who you are and how you would fit into the company culture. Share real-life examples and stories that showcase your skills, experiences, and values, and demonstrate your suitability for the role.

7. Be mindful of your body language

Your body language plays a significant role in building rapport. Maintain a relaxed and open posture, avoid crossing your arms, and lean in slightly towards the interviewer to show interest. Mirror the interviewer’s body language to some extent, as this can help create a sense of connection and understanding.

8. Thank the interviewer 

After the interview, thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to discuss the role and your interest in the company. Follow up with a thank-you email or handwritten note, reiterating your appreciation and interest in the position. This can leave a lasting positive impression and further solidify the rapport you’ve built during the interview.

9. After your interview

Once the interview has concluded, take the time to reflect on your performance, the questions asked, and any feedback provided. Make note of areas where you excelled and areas where you could improve for future interviews.

Consider sending a follow-up email within 24 hours of the interview to reiterate your interest in the position and to thank the interviewer once again for their time. In the email, you can also address any additional questions or clarify points that may not have been fully covered during the interview. This follow-up not only demonstrates professionalism and courtesy but also helps to keep you top of mind for the interviewer.

Stay connected with the company and the interviewer through professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. This can help maintain the rapport you built during the interview and potentially lead to future opportunities, even if you are not offered the current position.

If you receive feedback or are informed that you were not selected for the position, use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Ask the interviewer for constructive feedback on your performance and how you can improve in future interviews. This demonstrates your commitment to self-improvement and professionalism, and it can leave a positive impression on the interviewer, potentially opening doors for future opportunities with the company.

How to build rapport in the workplace

Building rapport with coworkers and team mates in the workplace involves creating positive relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and other stakeholders. Here are some ways to build rapport in the workplace:

1. Be approachable

Be open, be friendly, and be approachable. Smile and make eye contact when interacting with others. Ensure your body language is welcoming by keeping your arms uncrossed and maintaining a relaxed posture. Greet others warmly and remember to address them by their names to create a personal connection.

2. Listen actively

Pay attention to what others are saying and ask questions to show that you are interested in their thoughts and ideas. Practice good listening skills by avoiding interruptions, giving the speaker your full attention, and providing verbal and non-verbal feedback. Paraphrase or summarize what the speaker has said to ensure you understand their message and to demonstrate your engagement in the conversation.

3. Show empathy

Put yourself in other people’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Be sensitive to their emotions and be supportive during challenging situations. Offering genuine understanding and validating their feelings can help to build trust and strengthen relationships.

4. Find common ground

Identify shared interests, hobbies, or experiences that you can talk about with others. Engaging in conversations about common interests can help build rapport by creating connections on a personal level. This can also lead to improved teamwork and collaboration, as it fosters a sense of belonging within the group.

5. Communicate effectively

Use clear and concise language and be respectful of others’ opinions. Practice active listening and be open to feedback. When disagreements arise, address them in a constructive manner and focus on finding a resolution. Avoid using negative language or making personal attacks.

6. Collaborate

Work with others to achieve realistic goals and be willing to share credit for successes. Be open to new ideas and be willing to compromise when necessary. Encourage collaboration by promoting open communication and providing opportunities for team members to contribute their thoughts and ideas.

7. Show appreciation

Recognize and appreciate the contributions of others and show gratitude for their work. Express your thanks in a genuine and timely manner, whether it be through verbal recognition, written notes, or small tokens of appreciation. Celebrating team accomplishments and acknowledging individual achievements can help to create a positive work environment.

8. Be trustworthy

Keep your promises, be reliable, and maintain confidentiality when appropriate. Build trust by being honest, transparent, and consistent in your actions. Admit to mistakes when they occur and take responsibility for addressing them.

9. Be positive

Maintain a positive attitude and look for opportunities to provide encouragement and support to others. Offer praise for a job well done and provide constructive feedback when needed. Foster a positive work environment by celebrating successes, focusing on solutions rather than problems, and promoting a growth mindset.

How to encourage employees to build rapport with customers

Building rapport with customers is crucial for creating a positive customer experience, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business. As an employer or manager, you can encourage your employees to build rapport with customers, by:

1. Setting expectations

Make it clear to your employees that building rapport with customers is important and valued by the company. Establish clear expectations for customer service and rapport-building behaviors, and communicate these expectations regularly.

2. Providing training

Offer training and guidance on how to build rapport with customers, including active listening, empathy, and finding common ground. Provide ongoing support and resources, such as role-playing exercises, workshops, or access to customer service experts, to help employees refine their rapport-building skills.

3. Leading by example

Model the behavior you want to see in your employees by building rapport with customers yourself. Show genuine interest in customers’ needs and concerns, maintain a positive attitude, and handle issues with professionalism. By demonstrating effective rapport-building skills, you can inspire your employees to follow suit.

4. Recognizing and rewarding good rapport building

Acknowledge and reward employees who have successfully built rapport with customers. Celebrate their achievements by sharing success stories during team meetings, highlighting their efforts in company newsletters, or offering incentives such as bonuses, gift cards, or additional time off. By recognizing and rewarding good rapport building, you reinforce the importance of these skills and motivate employees to continue developing them.

5. Creating a positive workplace culture

Foster a workplace culture that values customer service and encourages employees to go above and beyond to build relationships with customers. Promote open communication, teamwork, and a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their experiences and learning from one another. Emphasize the importance of empathy, active listening, and finding common ground in interactions with customers.

6. Providing opportunities for feedback

Encourage customers to provide feedback on their experiences with your employees, and use that feedback to recognize and improve rapport building skills. Solicit feedback through surveys, comment cards, or direct conversations. Share the feedback with your employees, acknowledging their successes and identifying areas for improvement. Use the feedback to inform ongoing training and development efforts.

7. Encouraging collaboration

Encourage employees to work together and share strategies for building rapport with customers, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Create opportunities for employees to collaborate, such as team-building exercises, group brainstorming sessions, or cross-functional projects. Encourage the sharing of best practices, success stories, and lessons learned to help employees refine their rapport-building skills and better serve customers.

Building Rapport is the key to creating strong relationships

Developing rapport-building skills is essential for fostering meaningful and productive relationships in both personal and professional settings.

By mastering active listening, empathy, authenticity, appropriate touch, finding common ground, maintaining a positive attitude, using humor and inside jokes, and being open-minded, individuals can create a strong connection with others. Learning these crucial social skills can enhance communication, reduce conflict, and contribute to more satisfying and lasting relationships.


Eric Waisman

Eric Waisman

Founding Instructor

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