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Build Rapport with Six Critical Skills

Some people are extroverts; others are introverts. Some people have expressive communications styles; others get their points across quietly but with authority. There is no right way to be. The only right thing is to appreciate the other person and make an effort to build rapport.

In my last two blog posts,  I discussed the importance of building rapport in the articles, Five Tips for Building Rapport and Building Rapport with WIIFO, not WIIFM. To be honest, building rapport is one of those concepts that often can’t be explained, but you know it when you see it. You hit it off with someone or get along well. Rapport is about building understanding and harmony with another person in a way that supports easier and more effective communication.

At Richardson, we often talk of the Six Critical Skills for consultative selling. They also are useful skills for rapport building, which is essential in differentiating yourself in a sales situations and establishing a personal connection.

  • Presence: Ability to project confidence, conviction, and interest in body language and voice
  • Relating: Ability to use acknowledgment, rapport, and empathy to connect
  • Questioning: Ability to explore needs and create dialogue
  • Listening: Ability to understand content and emotional message
  • Positioning: Ability to leverage client needs to be persuasive
  • Checking: Ability to elicit feedback

The first two skills — Presence and Relating — come into play immediately upon contact. This is the “breaking-the-ice” stage, where showing empathy and reducing tension is key.

The next two — Questioning and Listening — are layered on top when you begin a dialogue. Nonverbal communication plays a key role here, building a connection subconsciously through body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

The last two — Positioning and Checking — reinforce your approach and strengthen rapport. These involve asking open-ended questions, summarizing what you’ve heard, and building on the ideas presented.

The point is:  You’re building rapport with a person, not an organization. You’re interacting with a human being who is likely more emotional than logical. EQ, or emotional quotient, is more important than IQ in establishing rapport.

Sometimes, acting as if you already have a good rapport is a good starting strategy. Talking as if the other person were a close friend with mutual trust sends subconscious signals to the other person to view you in the same way.

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