Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
Have you ever spoken with someone and had the feeling that you were “not on the same page” or “not speaking the same language”? How about engaged a possible romantic companion only to realize very quickly that you were “incompatible”? The chances are you did not have good rapport (pronounced ra - poor) with the other person. The ability to build rapport is one ability to which many great communicators attribute their success.
Rapport is the feeling between two or more people that they can relate to each other. Rapport is vital in just about any communication situation. Couples who have a good rapport with each other have happier relationships, sales people who can build rapport with prospects sell more, and leaders who have rapport with those whom they lead are more effective.
There are said to be three general types of people:
- Visuals. A visual is one who prefers using sight related words, and one who uses these words to express him or herself, such as, “I see what you mean” or “Your proposal looks good.”
- Auditories. An auditory is one who prefers sound related words and uses these words to express him or herself, such as, “I hear what you are saying” or “your proposal sounds good.”
- Kinesthetics. A kinesthetic is one who prefers touch or feeling related words, and uses these words to express him or herself, such as, “I feel for you” or “I feel we can use the ideas in your proposal.”
It is usually not that difficult to pick up which type of person you are dealing with by listening to the words they use. Once you determine which category they fall under, use language that fits in with the type of person they are. For example, a conversation between a salesperson who knows how to build rapport and a prospect may go something like this:
Prospect: It just does not look good to me.
Sales Person: I see. What would make it look good to you?
Prospect: It just does not sound good to me.
Sales Person: I hear what you are saying. What would make it sound better?
Prospect: It just does not feel right to me.
Sales Person: I understand. What specifically does not feel right about it?
Using words and phrases based on the visual, auditory or kinesthetic tendencies of others will help the other person relate to you better, but that alone is not the answer to building good rapport. Here are more suggestions that you can use to build the level of rapport it takes to create successful relationships.
- Match vocabulary level. Would you talk to a two-year-old the same way you talk to a college professor? Hopefully not. Most people tend to have two ways of speaking: one way to adults, and one way to those who are not yet adults. People tend to find it more important to show their superiority and mastery of language rather than communicate effectively. I remember the teachers I had in high school who spoke way over most of the students’ heads. Result: bored kids with poor grades. Today, high-tech salespeople who use jargon that I am not familiar with often approach me. Result: no sale. Do your best to match the vocabulary level of those with whom you speak.
- Match speech patterns. If you are a very fast speaker and the person you are speaking with is a slow speaker, then adjust your speed to match. Likewise, if the person you are speaking with speaks in a deep voice, then lower the pitch of your voice.
- Find common interests quickly. If you keep speaking about the sun and the person you are speaking with keeps bringing up the moon, talk about the moon or change subjects until a common interest is found. One can usually tell when another is interested in a subject by the enthusiasm that is shown in the other person’s face.
- Maintain good eye contact. Good eye contact does not mean a continual glare, like a raging lunatic, but rather the avoidance of shifty eyes, especially when the other person is speaking to you.
- Listen. Be an active listener. Listen with your entire body, not just your ears. Lean in a bit toward the speaker and give an occasional nod. Avoid too many verbal acknowledgments such as “right,” “I see...,” “sure,” “uh huh...,” and other similar words and sounds—overuse of these are both annoying and distracting.
- Ask questions. Without interrupting, ask clarifying questions about something the other person had just said. This is actually just another part of good active listening.
Whether communicating with your children, parents, students, teachers, friends, employees, or boss, build rapport using some or all of the suggestions above. Do this, and it will not be long before you will consider yourself a successful communicator.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)