by Arielle Essex

How to get rapport on the phone

You get less than 90 seconds to achieve rapport during a phone call. Therefore, the way you answer, including the tone of your voice and the choice of words, is crucial. In a business situation, it works to assume everyone you speak to has little time. Be clear, polite and straight to the point. Most people answer calls either with their name, their department or ‘how can I help you?’

Match the energy and type of response you receive from the other person. Sound relaxed and willing to offer assistance. Sounding stressed or upset will put your reputation and competence at risk. People may misconstrue the meaning of your state and attribute it to the wrong cause.

Give the person your complete attention. Sit straight or stand up for important calls; you can even walk around – this improves your voice quality.


  • Voice speed
  • Volume
  • Breathing
  • Content – how friendly and approachable or how business-like and credible should you be?

Although a voice on the phone provides less feedback than you would get in a face-to-face conversation, where body language contributes enormously to the total input, you can still tell whether or not rapport has been reached. The signals to listen for are

  • The conversation flows easily
  • Each person has space to speak fully
  • You succeed in giving or receiving the message
  • Few interruptions; no awkwardness
  • You conclude the conversation gracefully.

For more on this, see the topic on Telephone Skills.