5 tips for mastering the art of communication and building rapport

SBMs must be masters of building rapport; from relationship management with other schools and external partners, to the dynamics of their own teams, success in the role is dependent on good relationships. With this in mind we caught up with Warren Cass, speaker, entrepreneur and author of Influence – How to raise your profile, manage your reputation and get noticed on how SBMs can better communicate and establish great rapport

Rapport is a state of harmonious understanding that makes communication easier and, usually, more productive. It’s the development of a stronger connection, which results in mutually positive thoughts and feelings towards each other, mutual respect and attentiveness and even a synchronicity in body language.

Being in rapport allows you to influence, listen, teach, educate, and learn. It also builds trust and confidence.

However, there are times where you don’t feel this same connection with people; at these times rapport can also be established, even mastered, by using a few simple techniques. Building rapport is one of the essential skills for great communicators.

Here are five techniques to help you master the art of rapport building.

First impressions count
Do you know why they count? Simply because human beings judge, often subconsciously. You can’t change the way people think – at least not during the first communication – but you can make the best possible first impression.

How you look, dress, your personal hygiene and facial expressions all have an impact. A smile goes a very long way.

Remember the basics
Pay attention to the communication basics; actively listen and demonstrate you are doing so. Make good eye contact, show agreement through nodding and verbal confirmations, be relaxed and transparent.

Find common ground
Finding things in common is a great way to build a connection. What passions and interests do you share? What experiences might you have in common? What causes might you support? What values do you share?

When you find common ground, you’ll feel like you ‘know each other’ and your barriers will drop.

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Be authentic
Honesty is key. Being true to who you are is important as people will, typically, pick up on unnatural behaviour. Try to relax and be genuine.

Be attentive
Pay attention to both body language and the words people use. You can often tell how someone thinks from the words they use and whether they have a visual, auditory or feelings preference. Understanding this means you can use language which speaks more to them.

Observing how people feel will allow you demonstrate empathy. Putting yourself in their shoes, and seeing the world through their eyes, will make them feel understood.

Building rapport is not complicated at all, and the more we practice, the more effectively we communicate. Everyone wants to connect and experience more meaningful interactions in their lives; great communicators do this by putting the needs of others first by using all of these skills.

Warren Cass, shortlisted in the 2018 Business Book Awards for his book, Influence – How to raise your profile, manage your reputation and get noticed, published by Capstone

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