4 Ways To Build Instant Rapport With Anyone Anytime

Have you ever met someone that immediately rubbed you the wrong way? Of course you have.

For whatever reason, that other person did not know how to establish rapport with you. And their lack of rapport skills may have gotten in the way of you two doing business together or even having a pleasant conversation.

Unfortunately, the same thing might be said of you. You may not know how to establish instant rapport with everyone you meet.

It’s critical, because in today’s time-crunched world you no longer have the luxury of spending days and weeks around one another, gradually getting acquainted and eventually building some trust. You’ve got to make things “click” now. Here are a few of the ways you do it.

►1. Make an enthusiastic first impression.

You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. First impressions tend to linger on, even if they’re incorrect.

So make your first impression a positive one by exhibiting enthusiasm. Smile and make eye contact when you greet someone. Shake hands firmly

Show enthusiasm for what you do. That was a key characteristic of Tommy Lasorda, the retired manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When he appeared on the Larry King show the night after his team suffered a crushing loss to Houston in the National League playoffs in 1981, you would have thought his team won. When Larry asked him how he could be so happy, Tommy replied, “The best day of my life is when I manage a winning team. And the second-best day of my life is when I manage a losing team.”

If you project your enthusiasm to the people you are talking to, you will not only make a great first impression, you will also draw those people towards you. I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve had a certain amount of success in my career as a professional speaker and leadership coach; people can see that I love what I’m doing.

Rapport is only the first step in relationship building. You’ve also got to create a high level of trust. So I invite you to my new five-week virtual master class called The TRUST Connection: How to Build Stronger, Empathic, Engaged Relationships.

► 2. Use the other person’s name.

People love it; they absolutely love it when you remember and use their name.

It happened to my wife and I a couple of weeks ago when we were attending services at a very large church on Maui, a church we had attended a half dozen times in the last dozen years. And even though it had been four years since we were last there, the pastor, Dr. James Marocco, warmly greeted us by name. We were both blown away.

When you meet someone, ask for their name. And use their name during your conversation. After all, as human relations expert Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

If you forget someone’s name, that can be embarrassing. You could use my grandfather’s technique. When he was about to talk to someone and could not recall the name, he would simply say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.” When the other person responded with their first name, such as John, my grandfather would respond, “Well, of course I know your first name, John. I meant your last name.” That way he got someone’s full name with a minimum of embarrassment.

► 3. Affirm an obvious strength in the other person.

People love to be liked and admired. So find a positive trait in the other person and comment on it. It may be her keen insight on a topic, her sense of humor, her leadership skills, or it may be his choice of colors, or his calmness under pressure, or whatever.

Certainly some people are easier to like than others. But you can always find something in the other person that is worthy of a positive comment from you.

Just remember there’s a difference between schmoozing and sincerity. People can discern a fraud; so don’t be one of those scumbags.

► 4. Find a topic that turns on the other person.

There’s always something that the other person would LOVE to talk about. Find it and bring it up. It works like magic.

On a cruise my wife and I were seated with an elderly couple, just the four of us, for seven days. My first attempts at building rapport and conversation totally failed. No matter what I asked, I got one-word responses.

When I asked about where they lived, they answered “Florida.” When I asked about work, they said, “Retired.” When I asked about children or grandchildren, they said, “None.” And so forth went the entire first tortuous evening.

However, I was not deterred. I believe the best conversationalists have an endless curiosity about everything and I am always curious. My wife has even nicknamed me “Curious George” after the little monkey cartoon character. And I know that everyone has a story they’re itching to tell. I simply had to find the right topic.

I found that topic at our second evening meal. I asked about the work they did prior to retirement. And their faces lit up. They had been flower merchants in Holland, loved the work, and missed the work. And thus started an intriguing conversation about the flower industry that lasted the entire week. Indeed we built so much rapport that we continued to send Christmas cards to each other for several years afterwards.

Of course, when I talk about bringing up a topic that turns on the other person, I’m not advocating one-way communication. You will obviously have to tell the other person some things about yourself and answer some questions he or she may ask. However, don’t go on too long about yourself as you are attempting to build rapport. Turn the conversation around by asking, “How about you?”

Final Thought: Relationships can be fun, energizing, helpful, and profitable, but none of that will ever happen if you fail to build rapport first.