Rapport

by Arielle Essex

The business case for rapport skills

Why bother developing rapport in business situations? Quite simply, rapport greases the wheels of every interaction. When you take the trouble to develop good rapport skills, every communication will go more smoothly. You’ll not only get better results, but also speed up the whole process. People will listen to what you say and pay attention to your message. They’ll be more willing to be agreeable. Rapport will help you to

  • Convey information
  • Get buy-in to an idea
  • Motivate your team
  • Make more sales
  • Influence decisions
  • Have happier customers
  • Persuade people to share your point of view
  • Obtain thorough data
  • Communicate clearly
  • Get compliance
  • Have better relationships
  • Ensure loyalty and trust
  • Win friends and contacts
  • Gain political advantages
  • Get agreement
  • Enjoy your work
  • Get promoted.

Isn’t it enough just to do a good job?

Some people think that it is enough to just do a good job. They don’t believe that they need to pay attention to personal relationships. Instead they rely too much on their intellect and expect their expertise to speak for itself.

Those same people wonder why their ideas often don’t get adopted, or why they can’t seem to get everyone to agree with or follow their plan. They may wonder why other people get listened to more than they do. They don’t understand why other people get promoted instead of them when they worked so hard and did such a good job. Learning how to develop rapport – or, more precisely, the specific type of rapport you need for each particular situation – leads to much better results.

When a leader lacks rapport skills, he will be ineffective and will have to resort to excessive amounts of force in order to achieve results. Without being able to win people’s agreement, trust and loyalty, he will have no followers, no assistance and no support. He will constantly have to watch his back. People will not willingly contribute their time, energy or creative ideas. No matter how good his ideas and plans, it will be difficult to get buy-in. There may even be attempts at sabotage. No one will be inspired by his message.

Example

A senior manager was very proficient at his job, but completely lacked rapport skills. After six years, he was mystified by the changes in his department. Everyone else in the department had moved on to other roles. He now answered to a new director. All the new people had good rapport skills and got along well.

He felt left out, but doggedly decided to put his energy into working even harder and delivering even more thorough and impressive reports. Because these took him so long, and because he couldn’t even enlist cooperation from the secretary to type up his reports, they were always late as well as too detailed. No one wanted to read his in-depth reports, even though they were done perfectly. The new director wanted to exit him because he was a misfit, even though it was clear he had more knowledge about the department than anyone else.

When asked whether he was willing to change his ways and develop better rapport skills, he at first answered that he liked being the way he was. He followed in the footsteps of his father, whom he admired. He felt it would be disloyal to change his ways and he wouldn’t be ‘himself’. Looking more deeply into his values around doing a good job and delivering value to the company, he finally realised it was in his best interests to learn how to interact with more charm.

In extreme cases, where a leader lacks rapport skills, the options will be limited to ruling by force, instilling fear and enforcing a tyranny. While this can sometimes create results on a short-term basis, the long-term consequences for everyone involved are dire: increased stress levels, a fall in creativity, loss of trust, sabotage and subterfuge, and the creation of enemies, as well as poor communication, leading to mistakes and missed opportunities.

The advantages of charismatic rapport

Tip

Advanced rapport skills form the building blocks of charisma.

Rapport skills are also needed as building blocks for creating credibility, authenticity, gravitas, charisma and leadership. These form powerful ploys for managing political situations. There’s no doubt that the most effective leaders have developed high levels of charisma. It makes no difference whether they are naturally gifted, learn it by modelling others or consciously acquire the skills. A leader’s appeal is only as captivating as their level of charisma. In order to inspire, motivate, influence and direct their people to achieve the vision, a leader must master the art of charisma.