Building Rapport for More Effective Communication

We all depend on communication with other humans to meet our needs.

Whether it’s to transact business, encourage and support someone, or to express love. Often we need the co-operation of that person to achieve our aims, such as explaining an illness to a doctor, or negotiating the price of a new car. It makes sense then, to ensure that communication is as effective as possible and for that, we need to build rapport.

Rapport can be described as ‘being on the same wavelength’ as someone, or a feeling that you both have a lot in common. They say that people like people like themselves, so developing that feeling with others is key.

Here are a few simple ideas you can try:

Energy level – register and match the person’s energy level as you meet them, are they bubbly and energetic? Or are they calm and relaxed? Coming at someone displaying a lower energy level with your own excitement might overwhelm them. In the opposite situation, where you display lower energy, the other person might think you’re bored.

Breathing – a powerful way of hitting that same wavelength is to match someone’s breathing. By subtly breathing in and out as they do where possible, a deep rhythm is formed that gives those desired feelings of being in rapport. As a guide, when someone is speaking, they will be breathing out.

Vocabulary – people sometimes have phrases they use unconsciously in their speech, such as ‘to be fair’, ‘you know what I mean?’, or they might use single words like ‘literally’, as they interact with you. Repeated words often have a deep resonance for the speaker, so subtly sprinkle them into your own responses – the person won’t know you are doing it but they will feel that connection you are looking for.

Body language – how is the person using their body to help convey what they’re saying? If they’re sat back, you can sit back too, if their legs are crossed, you cross yours. If the other person tends to wave their hands around when they speak, you could use similar gestures when you respond. Obviously, this needs to be done subtly but you’ll be surprised how easily you can follow someone’s movements without them realising it. Mirroring body language can be a good test to see if you have built rapport with another person. If you make a significant shift in your own posture, you will find the other person unconsciously following your move with their own body.

Amazing but true!

These ideas are best used in face to face interaction, but a couple of them will adapt well to a phone conversation (not the breathing one!J). There are lots of ways to build rapport and it’s useful in any area of your life. So have a go and see how building rapport can make you a more effective communicator, improving your interactions and relationships.

All these tips can be found in the wonderful world of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the powerful toolkit I use in my coaching, to help women create the life they want.

Beth Penfold is the founder of One & Only You – empowering women through coaching. You can contact her on the details below –


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