When communicating with colleagues, it is critical to be able to gain a strong sense of rapport to ensure that you establish a high level of trust, confidence and participation.
So what is rapport?
Rapport is when two or more people communicating have mirrored or matched their bodies and words. It has been likened to two people dancing in perfect harmony with each other’s movements directly matching the others persons.
A person’s ability to communicate effectively is broken down into three distinctive parts:
- Voice tonality and tempo
- Body Language
For this reason, it is imperative that a person first build rapport before delivering a message.
In order to accurately interpret someone else’s message, it’s essential to demonstrate Active Listening, where it can be seen that all 3 parts of the other person’s communication is congruent with the message they are trying to convey.
There are a number of ways that people can gain rapport; the main ways are:
1: Matching eye contact
This involves maintaining the same level of eye contact with that of the other person communicating. People should be careful not to maintain eye contact completely as this may make them feel uncomfortable, so it is important to look away occasionally.
2: Matching posture including head position
This is about looking at the other person’s posture and then mirroring their head and neck position as well as their arms, torso and legs. If they have their legs crossed, it is also effective to mirror them but by doing it subtly.
3: Matching voice tonality and tempo
A key part of Active Listening with regards to building rapport is to listen carefully to the pitch, speed, volume and rhythm of the other person’s speech. These should then be matched and maintained as closely as possible.
4: Matching gestures
Similar to Posture and Tonality it is important to monitor the other person’s hand movements in order to mirror them when appropriate but in a subtle manner.
5: Matching predicates
Predicates are the descriptive words and phrases people use that belong to their primary representational system. Each person uses either Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic predicates as their primary representational system.
- “I can clearly see what you mean.” – Visual
- “I can hear what you are saying.” – Auditory
- “I feel I know what you mean.” – Kinaesthetic
Matching and mirroring another person’s body language and tony should be done subtly, and without exaggeration.
While mirroring is important, this doesn’t mean you should move every time they move a muscle. Instead subtly shift to mirror the other person’s body posture and gestures. The same goes for their voice tonality and tempo, maintain a similar pitch and speed. Matching tonality and tempo is a very useful way to gain rapport whilst having a conversation on the telephone.