Building Rapport with Words

Some days, when I type to my friends, I don't feel like they're getting what I say. They seem argumentative and don't really "listen" to what I am saying. Of course, other days, it's like they're psychic and truly get everything I'm writing to them, with very little explanation. We mesh on the same wave length and our communication and ideas flow like we share one brain. I'm sure you've had days where you felt this way too. Want to know a secret to making this connection happen all the time? It's actually rather easy and I'll let you in on the secret with the admission price of reading this article. It's all about rapport.

Rapport is the art of building harmony, trust and corporation in a relationship. It's that feeling of being in-sync with another person. Building rapport with others sounds tough. But it's not; it's actually not that hard. All it takes is imagination and a keen observation sense. Start by picturing yourself as that person. Pretend you're living inside them and begin matching their every being. Observe how they walk, talk, breathe, write and what style they have. Enter their world by assuming a similar state of mind. Matching and mirroring is a powerful way of getting an appreciation of how the other person is seeing ad experiencing the world. Doing these things shows others, that you're on the same wave length and you pay attention to every minute detail of their personality.

While building trust and rapport works best when you are in the same room, you can build rapport via IMs and emails and blogs. Words become your key to mirroring and matching others. In this day and age where we're communicating and working over long distances with one another, our written words become our voice and personality. Therefore, it can be even more important to be on the same page with others. Building rapport on the page or via email can be just as easy as building trust with another in person. The only difference is medium.

Learn the lingo and language of your audience. If you're writing for your boss, learn how to tailor your words and style to suit his. Simplify your writing style. Catering to the audience is not trickery; it's showing that you've done your homework, that you have listened to them and want to connect with them on a personal level. Technical writers do this all the time, as we're taught to write for the audience. Why not adapt this technique to build trust and harmony with your friends and coworkers.

Years ago, I used to have long conversations with my friends back home via email. I would write these long and verbose emails filled with details and little stories about things taking place in my life and how I felt about them. On more occasions than none, I would receive one word or one sentence responses to what I was typing. This frustrated me. I wanted my friends to open up to me and feel like they could share their world with me. So one day, I experimented with how I responded to emails. When a friend wrote me an email of a few lines, I held back and wrote them the same amount of lines, trying to match their tone. I expected to get a short response 2 or 3 hours later. Instead, they responded immediately. And after a few more emails of this nature, they opened up writing long paragraphs that discussed things that only a close friend would know.

Yes, this simple little experiment, as cheesy as I thought it to be at first, actually worked. I had used email and words to rebuild and carry my relationship momentum forward to get my friends to open up with me.

Try this experiment the next time you converse with coworkers or friends via email. The next time you receive an email from them, try and match the intensity and the length of their email. If your friend writes a one-liner, you write a one-liner back. If they write a paragraph, then you mirror it by writing the same amount of lines back.

The art of building rapport helps explore the ways we connect to people and the world around us. It's an easy skill to learn and integrate and sometimes we forget that it's there and it could help solve some communication issues. Building rapport helps you gain trust in people you care about and work with but yourself as well. Developing this skill promotes cooperation; it enhances your relationships with others and develops your ability to influence others to see your perspective. Adding this skill into your writing by mirroring length and word count, helps you to build trust with others.

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I read an article by a

I read an article by a psychologist that said most people fall into three camps in how they express their ideas: in visual terms ("I see what you're saying but" and "It looks to me like" and "Look at it from my point of view), or in auditory terms ("I hear you" and "It sounds like you want" and "Are you listening to me?"), or in abstract thought/emotion terms ("It feels like you" and "I think that" and "It seems to me".)

The psychologist suggested paying attention to which sort of terms a speaker used and deliberately using those types back. He said that this would make the other person more open to what you were saying.

I've heard that too...

or did I see it somewhere. Oh heck, the whole topic makes me feel funny.

It's the first time that

It's the first time that i've read this... now that i think of it, it makes alotta sense... if a conversation is made on these lines of mirror matching your colleague, the conversation does get interesting and could possibly take a different turn...

This are things that we do but never realise... this is great...

I'd like to build rapport with you

... but I can't think of a reply as long as your post.


nice comment

That's funny... and so very true. hmm...guess we start with your comment?


thank you

this was indeed helpful, thanks.
how would it aply into communication verbally? could you say something about that?

ps! sorry for not commenting in the same length as your article :-)


the first comment..

i see noe that i skipped down to commenting, without reading the other comments, usual mistake i guess.. but still it stands there, the question, could you say some more about communicating with voice? or maybe you got some ideas about how to communicate with a website in this manner?


Great advice

I'm going to try this as soon as I can! I have that problem of being very verbose (just can't stop myself, I feel I need to explain a lot if the message should get through) and only getting short sentences back. Very frustrating.