I spent last week traveling across the state meeting with people at newspapers, radio, and TV stations. In all cases, the success of my visit was based on how well we connected from the start.

Sometimes rapport happens naturally and you just “click” with someone. For some reason, they have quickly displayed themselves to you as someone you can trust; someone you find credible and likable.

How does that work?

The main reason that people connect right away is that they immediately find a common interest. Friends are chosen by what you have in common with them – age, economic status, family make-up, and personal interests. You will have similar opinions and mannerisms – outgoing, shy, fast talker, etc. You will find things you differ on, but in most ways, you will have much in common.

And, if you don’t Click?

Sometimes you won’t have an instant natural rapport with someone. No matter how hard you try, with your boss, your date, the officer that just pulled you over, you just aren’t connecting.

Build Better Rapport

To build rapport, you must find how you are similar and build on that. Here are 5 tools that will instantly help you build better rapport.

1) Choose your attitude.

Your attitude proceeds you, especially in a face-to-face interaction. Begin with a smile, an open mind, a positive attitude, and make it your responsibility to find a connection.

2) Observe the other person’s behavior.

Watch their mannerisms – how they sit, how fast they talk, whether they lean in, talk with their hands, shuffle their feet, etc.

3) Mimic the body language you’ve observed.

Deliberately, but subtly, alter your body language and behavior for a short time. Establish a physical connection. Adapt to their mannerisms and communication style. People like people like them. Use open body language. Your body doesn’t know how to lie and any contradictions in body language will interrupt rapport.

4) Find some common ground.

What do you have in common?  Keep digging until you find something. Is it the way you like to sit? The color of your notebook? The pictures of their kids?  Your hobbies? Where you live? Work to find something in common that you can both relate to. I connected with the two men in this picture (both younger than my own kids) by discovering that we all went to the same university.

5) Listen.

Practice your active listening skills, the most powerful connector of all, and make the initial interaction all about them. Be curious and find out who they are and what makes them tick.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in improving interpersonal communication skills, building and leading teams, training supervisors, career coaching, solving human resources issues, and working with different communication styles and generations.