How To Build Rapport With Almost Anyone

Here's everything you need to know about forming deeper connections with anyone

Getting to know someone is one thing, but breaking through the friendship barrier is something else completely.

For a big chunk of my life, I felt lonely because I lacked the social skills to create any sort of meaningful connection with people. The learning curve was long, but after realizing that building rapport is a skill set, my social life transformed in beautiful ways.

Everyone longs for deep connections, new friends, and exciting new experiences. But most people have the same fear that you do. They don’t know how to move beyond small talk or form a real connection with people.

For me, learning how to build rapport is not just about making life generally more enjoyable, but it’s also out of necessity. There have been one too many times when I’ve been caught in a tough situation, and the solution was always through others.

It quickly became obvious just how important rapport-building is in my everyday life. I can assure you, I wouldn’t be living the life I am now without having developed this fundamental, yet often overlooked skillset – to naturally, and genuinely connect with people.

You might be good at the usual formalities, but how many people can you call true friends? Knowing how to build rapport with people is a crucial social skill because it is the bridge from being an acquaintance to a friend.

Building rapport is the act of establishing a deeper and more substantial connection with someone. Rapport is established when you get beyond small talk and the usual formalities to create a more personal friendship with someone.

Rapport: The gateway to genuine friendship

Friends building rapport with one another

When I first left Australia to live in Brazil, I was worried about winding up alone in a foreign country. Onboard my plane from the UAE to São Paulo, a young lady sat down next to me. In an awkward attempt to get the engine started, I asked her where she was going.

We chatted for most of the flight, and she gave me the ins and outs of the culture that I was soon going to be living in. We traded information and suddenly I had a valuable contact.

The next day while I was in a hostel in Curitiba, I bumped into a man from the US who was passing through. So I took the initiative to start a conversation with him and show some interest in his life. It led to an interesting conversation, and he offered to show me around the city. I learned a lot from this man, and he quickly became a staple for me.

The next day, I would meet some other students at the hostel who were getting ready for the same exchange program I was in, and we quickly became friends throughout the semester. Months flew by and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to everyone I became so close with.

So I continued traveling, and eventually, it became more than an adventure. It became my entire life where I was constantly meeting a stream of new faces. In every country I end up in, this outgoingness and ability to connect with people has made the entire experience for me. But it didn’t come naturally at first.

That’s why I want to pass on what I’ve learned so that you can easily build rapport with almost anyone, and bring the magic of yourself wherever you go, and to whoever you’re with.

The importance of rapport

Rapport building is the process of cultivating deeper and longer-lasting friendships with people. It’s the ability to enter someone else’s world, connect on mutual interests, and see one another as three-dimensional people.

Without building rapport, your social connections tend to be more distant. You might hover around small talk and pleasantries, and the conversation usually expires after a short period.

Rapport opens up a window of transparency that creates space for a more intimate connection. When you have a rapport with someone, you feel at ease around the person, and they feel at ease around you. You can let your guard down and be your authentic self without fear of being judged, or feeling like you need to make a good impression. Conversation flows, and you create an emotional bond as you naturally socially calibrate with the person.

As your social life is deeply rooted in your life experience, your ability to build rapport influences every aspect of it. from the quality of your social circles, your dating life, your career, and avocations, to the amount of opportunities that open up for you.

Rapport is necessary for some reasons:

  • It humanizes the interaction: When you establish rapport with someone, you see beyond the mask that they wear and get a glimpse into the person’s true character. You gain a deeper view of who the person truly is, and this humanizes the connection.
  • You feel closer with people: Building rapport allows you to get closer to someone, as you connect on a heart-to-heart level. This is usually when they will consider you a friend. This opens up the door for lasting friendships, invitations, new experiences, and a whole lot of fun.
  • It helps you professionally: Building rapport in the professional world is the crux of networking. Instead of making vague connections, those connections become high-quality. Real connections are generally valued higher in the professional world than competence.
  • You become more trusting (and trustworthy): When you build rapport with someone, you start to trust them more. Part of this is because of the transparency aspect that comes with rapport building. With that said, people also tend to trust you more. It’s important to break down this barrier to form more fulfilling connections, otherwise, it can be difficult to be set apart from just another person.
  • Communication improves: Sometimes it can be hard to fully express yourself and convey your ideas to someone you don’t know. You might hold back, feel nervous, or not trust them enough to speak about more personal matters. When you have rapport with someone, communication becomes more effective as you find yourself speaking honestly and freely.

How to build rapport with people

Women playing together

There’s no formula for establishing rapport with people, as these connections are cultivated differently. Some people might just want the companionship of sitting together and watching a movie in silence. For others, you may need to navigate deep into their psyche, talk through their issues, and earn their trust.

That’s why it’s important to treat everyone as a potential friend, simply because you don’t know who you’ll establish rapport with, and who will remain as an acquaintance. Either way, here are some tips to help you build rapport with people.

Be genuinely interested in knowing the person

After showing a genuine interest in people, I started to notice how it translated into my social relationships.

Most people never really get an audience to talk about themselves, as everyone wants to be the center of attention. When meeting someone for the first time, acknowledge that you are speaking to this person to understand them. Any self-centered demeanor is like a bad smell. Your intentions will be exposed, so make sure that they’re positive.

Your interactions should revolve around discovering the other person and getting to know them for who they are. When you genuinely want to learn about them and listen to them without injecting your agenda, that’s when people feel acknowledged.

Ask the right questions

Mostly, rapport is formed through stimulating, lively, and interesting conversation. If you’re only making small talk with people, you’re not going to be breaking that friendship barrier anytime soon. This is why it’s important to ask the right questions.

Ask open-ended questions that encourage the other person to share more about themselves and their experiences. This means paraphrasing what they’ve said in your own words, to make sure that you’ve understood them correctly. Make the conversation interesting and dynamic, and you’re going to stand out from the crowd.

Be your authentic self

Rapport is established by being authentic. People can’t connect with a false image because there is no substance backing a façade.

By being authentic, you will attract more like-minded people into your life while others will fade away. With that said, express your true identity, and don’t be ashamed of it!

Your shyness, awkward tendencies, and offbeat personality might be what draws certain people to you in the first place. Don’t pretend that you’re someone you’re not because this seldom works in your favor.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable

We tend to wear masks because we’re afraid of what other people might think of us. So we put out a persona that isn’t exactly calibrated with who we really are. But people like to see that vulnerability. It’s what actually triggers positive emotions that make them feel like they’re talking to a real person.

So allow yourself to be vulnerable. Some people might not resonate with you and that’s fine. But other people will resonate with your own unique style, and that’s what matters. That’s where the real friends are made.

Seek out like-minded people

Aim to meet people who are similar to you, regarding their values, interests, beliefs, personality, and identity. If you are seeking out people who are similar to you, it’s going to be easier and feel more natural to bridge deeper connections, because your personalities overlap.

Of course, generally talk to everyone regardless of who they are. But it is easier to build rapport with someone who has some sort of commonality with you, and something to connect over.

Be inviting to others

People are attracted to your energy (or repulsed by it). Therefore, have a vibe that makes people feel comfortable with you. This means that you should radiate an uplifting, positive energy that people associate with good feelings. Therefore, people will associate you with good feelings!

If you can get the energy right, this is a game changer. I would say that my energy is my biggest asset when it comes to creating good connections with people. They pick up on my relaxing judgemental free energy and often open up to me because of that. People may not know who you are, but they will feel you out, so make sure it’s good.

Prove to people that you can be trusted

People need to know that you can be trusted before they let you into their life. Many people have been taken advantage of, exploited, and hurt by other people whom they thought they could trust. You need to make sure that this isn’t you.

Establish trust by keeping everything you speak about confidential, taking care of them, and showing them compassion. Consider them as a real person who has feelings and emotions. Never take advantage of people.

Offer value in some form to the relationship

People want to have others in their lives who can contribute positivity to it. You can offer people value through interesting and fulfilling conversations, make them laugh, help them out, console them if they need it, and show them that you care about them.

Be someone who can make that person’s life a little better in some form, and they will really appreciate it. When you offer value through your social interactions, you become a valuable friend.

The basics of building rapport

Woman being a people pleaser

When you cross paths with someone and interact with them, imagine the different experiences they have gone through to get to where they are. Think about what their life journey may have been like to have led them to this point in time, with you.

Curiosity is key, and there’s no better way to get to know someone than showing genuine curiosity about their life. This is where the conversational spotlight technique comes in handy. Part of rapport building is to understand that everybody has a life story, despite how different their lives are from yours.

From a clean slate, work to see everyone as a potential friend who you would like to know. If you build a healthy social mentality as a foundation, you will find people from every angle naturally drifting into your orbit, as you do with theirs.

Building rapport in everyday life

Imagine that you go to a local store, whether it’s a library, supermarket, or whatever it may be. You see the shop clerk regularly and have a small chat every time you do. He knows who you are, you know who he is, but there’s still a disconnect.

Perhaps you want to keep it as a professional relationship, perhaps you just don’t really care that much. Even though you know the person, you haven’t built rapport with him because you know very little about their personal life, and haven’t formed any sort of bond.

Now imagine if you hit off this with the person and caught up occasionally outside of the work environment. You are completely transparent with one another, and enjoy each other’s company.

As you’ve had time to chat and open up to one another, he knows all about you, and you know all about him. There is no awkwardness in the communication because you’re not trying to set an impression.

Instead of a shop clerk, you see him as a friend who happens to be working at that particular shop. This is an example of having a rapport with someone because you have a deeper bond.

Rapport building questions

The questions you ask should incite curiosity and give the person something to chat about. They should be open-ended questions that offer that space for something to really talk about what they find interesting.

Generally, your questions should be casual, and similar to something you would ask your friends. Conversation starters are okay, but you want to get a little more personal, otherwise, you’ll be put in the category of small talk. Here are some common questions I ask to get people engaged in conversation:

  • Where are you from?
  • How long have you been living here?
  • What have you been doing today?
  • Do you have plans for the weekend?
  • What do you do with yourself?
  • How is work treating you?
  • Do you enjoy what you do?
  • What do you usually do outside of work?
  • Did you hear about _________?
  • What do you think about ________?

People love to talk about themselves, so make sure your attention is directed at them, and not yourself.

What to avoid

While building rapport can be a powerful tool for creating strong relationships, there are some common mistakes people make that can blow the interaction including:

  • Don’t be too eager: While it’s important to be friendly, being too eager can come across as needy which will trigger the person’s red light. Try to strike a balance between being friendly and being respectful of the other person’s boundaries.
  • Don’t focus on yourself: The harsh truth is that nobody cares about you before you create some sort of connection with them. You’re a stranger to them, so realize that and don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, why should they? Focus on them instead to break through that first barrier.
  • Avoid being negative: While it’s important to be honest, being negative can create a bad impression. Simply put, you’re not going to be enjoyable to be around if you’re constantly complaining or being negative. Try to focus on the positive aspects of your experiences and avoid dwelling on the negative.
  • Don’t forget to follow up: Building rapport is an ongoing process, and it’s important to follow up with the people you’ve connected with. Get their social media handle or number. Message them. Take the time to follow up which can help strengthen your relationships over time.

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