Building Rapport

Published: January 2, 2019

Some people subconsciously build rapport upon meeting a new person, whereas others have to make a conscious effort to remember to do so. Building rapport helps to develop trust and understanding, and is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Whether it is with your significant other, a business partner, or with your kids, when there is rapport in a relationship, there is total responsiveness and connection between both parties.

Tony Robbins teaches that rapport is power, people like people who are like themselves or who are like how they would like to be, and rapport is created when there is a commonality. In business, rapport can help you create deeper relationships with clients and team members, and attract other opportunities.

There are many ways to build rapport within your relationships, our team has listed a few below:

Match & Mirror

Rapport is not only created by having common views and thoughts as another person, but also by emotions, attitude, and how you present yourself. This is where mirroring and matching can be powerful. Whether you are face-to-face or on the phone, you want to exercise mirroring and matching. When you can mirror someone vocally and physically, you will be able to get on the same page. You can do this by matching their tone of voice, or pace of speaking. For example, people from the east coast may be accustomed to speaking at a fast pace, so you may choose to speak more quickly that usual. On the contrary, someone from the South or Midwest may speak more slowly, so you might slow down your speaking. When face-to-face, you can also choose to mirror another person’s body language, posture, or gestures. For example, if the other person speaks with a lot of hand gestures, you may also incorporate hand gestures when you speak to them. You can also practice mirroring through eye contact, breathing, temper, volume, or overall vibe.

Ask Questions, Then Stay Quiet

People love talking about themselves and they are always looking for someone to listen to them — believe it or not, this actually helps you build rapport. Another way to build rapport with others is to practice the art of active listening. What great listeners do is create the time and space for other people to think out loud. In fact, you can actually lead and control this type of conversation by asking questions and then listening to what the other person has to say.

Repeat and Rephrase

We now know that just by listening to someone, you can build rapport. That being said, when you practice active listening, you are actually retaining what the other person is telling you. Whatever the conversation is about, as you are listening, make mental notes about what you are hearing – what is important to that person, what are the challenges, what are the goals, etc. After the other person is done speaking, repeat and rephrase some of those key “mental notes” that you made. By doing so, the other person feels reassured that you were actually listening to them which, more or less, makes he or she feel important.


As anyone in the sales business knows, building strong rapport (with clients and prospects) is a critical element in business success.  For this tip, I’d like to focus on what I believe to be the most important component in building rapport – asking powerful questions. Many are familiar with the concept of open-ended and closed-ended questions.  Here are some quick definitions:

Closedended questions are those which can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no,” while openended questions are those which require more thought and more than a simple one-word answer.  

It goes without saying then that open-ended questions are what we aim to ask when aiming to spark more powerful conversations.  It’s not that you should never ask closed questions. Oftentimes they are necessary for soliciting specific information. And they’re typically how you begin a conversation in the first place. For example, Where are you from? What do you do?

It’s once the other person responds to your initial closed questions that you begin to ask more open ones that seek to clarify and expand on the things they tell you.  Here is a good list of open ended question starters to implement into your conversation repertoire:

  • What was it like to…
  • What was the best part of…
  • What was the hardest part about…
  • How did you feel about…
  • How did you know…
  • What brought you to…
  • What’s surprised you the most about…
  • In what way is that similar/different from…
  • Why do you want…

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