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7 Quick Tips to Build Rapport in the Workplace

If there is a skill that will help you develop mutual trust, friendship, and understanding, that is building rapport. This communication skill is crucial for anyone working with other humans, but particularly for professionals in sales, customer service, and leadership roles.

In this post, we give you 7 quick tips that will help you build rapport with customers and coworkers.

What is rapport?

​​Rapport is a friendly and harmonious relationship between two or more people, where there is mutual agreement, understanding, empathy, trust, and respect. Communication flows well and people feel comfortable working with each other.

Is building rapport the same as small talk?

Small talk and building rapport are not the same. They share some similarities, but the biggest difference is that small talk is forgettable, more superficial.

Building rapport entails developing a connection around a shared interest, and that is shown over multiple interactions.

Benefits of building rapport

  • Establish long-lasting relationships
  • Build mutual trust with colleagues and potential clients
  • Improve team collaboration
  • Boost team loyalty
  • Close more deals
  • Develop effective workplace communication

7 quick tips to build rapport

Based on extensive research, here are 7 quick tips that will help you establish rapport with customers and coworkers.

1. Make a good first impression

Building rapport starts with making a good first impression. Start with the small things – smiling, being polite, making eye contact, taking care of your appearance, and being a good listener.

2. Active listening

Listen with your ears, but also with your eyes. Active listening requires not only focusing on what the person says but also on what they don’t say.

3. Ask open-ended questions

Asking questions is an art that will open many doors, and it’s a skill you can learn. In general, open-ended questions invite the respondent to share more information about themselves. They help to open the conversation and often help people feel more at ease.

Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. They usually start with the words “what”, “why”, “when”, “where”, or “how”.

For example, instead of “Did you like the event?” try “What did you think about the event?”

Your goal when it comes to building rapport is to find common ground (friends in common, educational background, hometown, similar hobbies). Think about what sort of questions will allow you to set a strong foundation for a relationship.

Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. Even if a person initially looks like they are your polar opposite, look for some sort of shared experience, characteristic, or perspective.

4. Try the labeling technique

Labeling is a subtle technique that will help you gain better insights during conversations with prospects and clients. It is used to give voice to the other person’s feelings.

When you notice the other person expresses an emotion, label that emotion by using the sentence “It sounds like you…” or “It looks like you…”.

To label effectively, avoid using the first-person pronoun (e.g., “What I’m hearing…” or “I think…”). Instead, make it about them. Your goal with this technique is to let them know that you understand their feelings and you are willing to help build the relationship.

5. Be aware of your body language

Body language plays a big role in communication. How you move and look greatly influences how others perceive you. If you work with people from different countries, you may have noticed that there are cultural differences when it comes to body language. But there are basics that you can apply wherever you are.

Avoid crossing your legs and arms and show yourself welcoming, relaxed, and open.

Nod along and make encouraging sounds and gestures.

Don’t check your phone when you are talking to someone -unless it’s an emergency.

Maintain eye contact. In most cultures, looking at people in the face and holding a soft gaze when they are speaking shows that you are interested in what they are saying. But don’t stare!

6. Lead with empathy

Empathy and respect are key components to building trust. Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, see things from their point of view, and imagine being in their place.

Building rapport is about mutual understanding. To develop this skill, work on listening to people without interrupting. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Try to understand people, even when you don’t agree with them. Check for biases you may have and how they affect how you see others. Be willing to be vulnerable.

7. Remember people’s names

Remembering people’s names and faces shows that you care about them and are interested in getting to know them better.

Use the other person’s name when you address them –without overdoing it.

Personalize your emails. After a meeting with a small number of participants, consider following up individually, and include their name in the subject line.

Communication skills for the workplace

Keep improving your communication skills for the workplace. Explore Talaera’s professional English training, for you or for your organization. Get in touch with us at for a personalized program tailored to your budget and needs.

Business English Training for Non-Native Speakers - Talaera

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