Episode #28: How to Build Rapport and Strengthen Work Relationships

This episode is part of the Career Advancement Series that has been curated to help you become an exceptional communicator.

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • The importance of being open to influence
  • Conversational essentials and effective interpersonal skills
  • Vital interpersonal skills shared by influential people
  • How to establish rapport with someone you just met

Be Open to Influence

Being open to influence is the overarching mindset and attitude in order to really utilize all of these communication skills in a masterful and consistent way. When we’re open to influence we are connecting without judgment. We’re engaging and listening to what others are saying, rather than preparing for what we want to say next. When working with others it’s essential that we cultivate an open mindset and embody curiosity in order to deeply hear what others are saying without filtering it through our own agenda.

Being open to influence is the foundation for building rapport and strengthening our personal and professional relationships.

Our Brains are designed to be social and the need to belong is more powerful than the need for safety. When we feel rejected it activates our fear networks in our brain and increases the levels of a stress hormone, cortisol, which shifts us into a protective guarded behavior.

When we focus on inclusion and appreciation we reduce the level of cortisol and increase the levels of the bonding hormone, oxytocin.

Did you know that when we move from judging to appreciating we activate our sense of self and feel more connected and confident overall?

Let’s minimize the types of conversations that trigger fear, power plays, uncertainty, and a need to be right. Let’s reinforce the types of conversations that inspire transparency, relationship building, understanding, a shared vision of success, truth, and empathy.

The need to connect is the most powerful force than any other in the universe. It is our nature to connect and choose belonging over safety.

How do you build rapport? It is not listening to understand, but listening to connect. How do you listen with non-judgment?

The Importance of Listening

  • Transformational listening begins with the practice of listening to connect not judge or reject
  • It’s bigger than listening to understand, which is more about listening to confirm what you know.
  • It’s a way of listening to the other person with a focus on them not you.
  • This releases a high level of the bonding hormone oxytocin into our body.

Listening to connect moves you to a more compassionate space as you focus your attention on the other person:

What are they trying to say? What are they thinking? What are they hoping you will help them explore?

People thrive on connection and affirmation, not criticism and judgment.

When we listen to connect we improve our ability to connect, navigate and grow with others. We make better friends, better parents, better partners, better leaders, bosses, supervisors, and co-workers.

Effective Interpersonal Skills 

Having strong interpersonal skills can magnify your personal power. Interpersonal communication describes the way we relate and connect with others, whether one-on-one, in small groups, or even one-to-many. This encompasses a wide variety of factors, including what we say, how we say it, and how we behave while we’re saying it.

It’s a combination of the content of our speech and the nonverbal communication (body language, vocal tone, etc.) that affects, whether we’re able to get the intention of our message delivered and understood.

Several studies have been done and though the exact percentages vary, it’s generally accepted that when communicating face-to-face, about 7% of the communication is verbal meaning the words that you use that inform WHAT you say, and the rest is 55% visual (body language) and 38% vocal (tone of voice).

When communicating over the phone research found 84% of communication is vocal and 16% is verbal.

15 Vital Interpersonal Skills, Shared By Influential People

Note how you measure up?

  1. Ability to work with people
  2. Social poise, self-assurance, and confidence
  3. Ability to be considerate of others
  4. Communicates with professionalism, diplomacy, and tact
  5. Has high emotional intelligence
  6. Ability to analyze facts, understand and solve problems
  7. Ability to make decisions
  8. Ability to maintain high standards
  9. Tolerance and patience
  10. Honesty and objectivity
  11. Organization and time management
  12. Ability to delegate effectively
  13. Enthusiasm and positivity
  14. Persuasiveness
  15. High concern for communication

How did you measure up?

Red Flags

Here are some important interpersonal red flags to be aware of. As I share them please note which, if any- you’re challenged with:

  • A weak or tentative handshake
  • Nervous laugh or giggle
  • Constantly apologizing
  • Closed posture
  • Inconsistent eye contact
  • Nervous gestures, twitching, or rocking/swaying side-to-side
  • Failure to speak up
  • Extensive vocal pauses and filler words (um, uh, like, ya know, so, etc.)

If you find yourself challenged with any of these red flags, consider how you start to make improvements.

The first step is to be aware of what you’re doing by paying attention to aspects of your interpersonal communication style. Then you can make small adjustments than dramatically increase your personal power.

I’d like to share another way you can initially diminish your personal power, yet also recover quickly. Have you ever experienced an embarrassing communication moment where you put your foot in your mouth? I think we probably all have experienced this. It’s inevitable that if we choose to communicate, at some point in time, we’ll say the wrong thing at the wrong time. If we give in to the fear of saying something wrong, it’ll become a barrier to communicating effectively.

You’re not alone. Most of us will do this at some point. What’s important is that we learn from it and move forward.

4 tips to recover from an embarrassing communication experience

  1. Assess the damage. Quickly assess the potential damage; if the effect is minimal, make a quick apology and move on. If more damage control is necessary, schedule a private face-to-face meeting to formally and sincerely apologize.
  2. Take responsibility. Determine what action you need to take to acknowledge the mistake publicly, to appease the offended party.
  3. Take action if necessary. Keep your reaction in line with the scope of the offense, and don’t make a bigger deal of something than you need to, because the truth is, people often quickly forget.
  4. Review your communication behaviors and make adjustments.

Keep in mind that sometimes we all speak before we think, but that’s not a reason to shut down. Instead, I encourage you to develop recovery strategies to regain your confidence as an effective communicator.

How to Establish Rapport with Someone You Just Met

One of the first aspects of becoming an exceptional communication is building rapport with others. Until this aspect of communication is established – little else will be accomplished. People generally won’t listen well to someone they don’t feel a connection with. As I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, the connection is the bond on which trust is built and you have credibility once a person trusts you.

The common goal in communication is a mutual exchange of ideas. You don’t need to know a person well to share that common goal.

6 important tips to improve your chances of being accepted

If you would like to increase your chances of being accepted into a group of people, even if you’re unsure if you have anything in common with them, apply these 6 tips:

  1. Be open to a mutual exchange of ideas
  2. Let go of your fear of not being liked or being different
  3. Take a chance and say hello!
  4. Think of what you want to learn from this interaction
  5. Don’t be on the defensive because your body language or voice tone will repel rather than attract – maintain a relaxed and open body posture
  6. Smile

Communication in conversations is about patterns and energy not just about information.

You’ll bring change into the world that will empower more transparency, stronger relationships, deeper understanding, broader and more profound and shared success, and most of all the ability to tell the truth – to close the gap that separates us – one from another.

Listen to the Full Series:

If you would like to explore any of these topics further and receive additional support and coaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by sending an email to support@teenaevert.com