By Greeshma Thampi
When we start a business meeting, we do not directly get into the business discussion. We usually start with some general conversations also known as “Small Talk” or “Breaking the Ice”. This is essential as business at the end of the day is based on a human connect.
In the words of Zig Zigler – “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” We are more receptive to ideas and recommendations, if we are able to trust the opposite person. Rapport is therefore, the ability to relate to others, to build trust, likability and understanding.
How To Prepare:
To be able to build rapport there are a few things we need to do before and during the conversation.
There is so much information about an individual on social media. Read up about the person you are meeting. It will help you understand how to build your conversation.
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If it is a business meeting, you can talk about information from their LinkedIn Profile for example, a recent promotion or award that they received. However, avoid using any information that you picked up on Facebook directly in conversation. It may sound too intrusive especially when it is a first meeting.
You could start conversations based on certain things that you observe. For example, a certificate of a recent training that the person has attended or the décor of the office.
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Another key skills is the art of listening. A lot of times in conversation the person might share something interesting and you can pick up on that topic and add something from your side or ask a follow up question. This will motivate the person to share more.
Four Key Techniques Of Building Rapport:
Four major techniques for building rapport with anyone.
Conversations Should Be Light And Simple
Topics of conversations should be light and simple where everyone can add to. For example, travel, weather, food, décor, books, movies, shopping, etc.Avoid controversial or negative topics like politics, war, and terrorism, to name a few.
2 Cs – Compliments & Commonalities
When someone pays us a genuine compliment, we subconsciously start liking the person.
When it comes to business try and keep the compliments limited to the person’s behaviour or something that you observed in the office like a painting or how well the business is doing.
In a social setting or if you already have a well-established rapport, it is acceptable to give a personal compliment regarding their outfit or if they are looking fit.
Please remember compliments need to be genuine!
Another way to build rapport is finding anything in “Common”. You would have realised when we have anything in common with the opposite person it helps us connect better. It could be the same University that you went to or a common interest or hobby, a certain city that you belong to or even a common language. So focus on finding something similar with the opposite person as we all tend to connect well with people who are similar to us.
I , ME, Myself
If there is one topic on earth that we all love speaking about, it is about our self. When we genuinely take interest in knowing more about the opposite person, it helps us connect better.
We can create rapport by asking the right questions like
- How has your experience been working in such a challenging role
- What really motivates you to work harder?
- How has your experience living in this city
- How do you like spending time beyond work?
Open Ended Questions
Use more open ended questions to get descriptive answers from the opposite person.
For example, if you ask someone “how was your weekend?”, you would often get a response like “it was good”. But instead when you as them an open ended question like “how did you spend your weekend?”, this allows the person to be more descriptive and that is where we can build on conversation
If the person says, “ I visited this really interesting restaurant on the other side of town.” You could add by saying, “yes I have been really looking forward to going there, have heard so much about the restaurant. ” and that’s how you build the conversation?
To sum it up, rapport is
- Look at building rapport between humans without the focus on business or the outcome of the discussion
- Use the techniques depending on the comfort and rapport that you already have with the opposite person
- Personal questions should be initiated by the senior or client
- And remember, while you use these techniques take genuine interest to listen with eye contact and a smile to engage better.