How to Build Rapport in the Workplace

Building rapport is a skill that everyone needs to learn, regardless of their position or industry. When you have good rapport with a person, it means that your relationship is characterized by mutual trust and liking. Rapport can help you:

  • Connect effectively with team members
  • Establish good relationships with suppliers and clients
  • Settle in faster in a new job
  • Garner support for your ideas and proposals
  • Get customers to buy your product

Here are some tactics you can apply to build rapport with others:

1. Check your appearance

To build rapport with anyone, you need to make a great first impression. In this regard, your appearance is very important as it will either create a barrier or make it easier for you to connect with others. For instance, going for an executive meeting dressed in jeans and a t-shirt will make it harder for you to fit in. Therefore, before meeting anyone, find out in advance how you are expected to dress.

2. Find common ground

When you meet new people, the first thing you need to do is find common ground. As you interact, ask open-ended questions to learn more about them. You might find that you support the same sports team, attended the same college, grew up in the same town or share the same hobbies. Having something in common makes it easier to build rapport. However, there is need for sincerity when finding common ground. Don’t lie about your interests just for the sake of building rapport. This can end up denting your credibility.

3. Use mirroring

Here are some of the ways you can use mirroring to establish rapport:

  • Listen to the other person’s language and reflect it. If they use direct, simple words, be sure to do the same. If they use technical jargon, match their style where possible. When making a response, it would be advisable to repeat the main phrases or words they used
  • Keenly watch the other person’s non-verbal communication or body language. This includes their posture, gestures and facial expressions. If the person is sitting on the edge of their seat, mirror this posture. When they sit back, relax and cross their legs, do likewise
  • Observe the other person’s speech patterns, including their volume and tone variation. If they talk slowly and softly, copy them by lowering the volume of your voice.

Though mirroring can be a very effective way of building rapport, you don’t have to copy every gesture or word. When overdone, it can become awkward and irritating.

4. Empathize

Being able to see things from other people’s perspectives allows you to understand them better. Therefore, applying empathy is a great way of building rapport with others. To develop empathy, you need to take time to build your emotional intelligence.

5. Remember the basics

To establish a good rapport with others, remember to apply the following basics of good communication:

  • Smile
  • Shake hands firmly
  • Be sincere
  • Look the other person in the eye
  • Hold your head up

However, when dealing with people from other cultures, find out what is acceptable and what isn’t. For instance, shaking hands is not acceptable in some places.


Building rapport takes time. Applying the above tips patiently and consistently will help you create good relationships with your colleagues, customers and business associates.

Image: Flickr, COD Newsroom