Making a powerful first impression on someone has the power to set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Quickly building rapport in the first conversation you have with them is another influencing factor in how the relationship will pan out.
So, I’m here to share some communication skills that will assist you in building rapport with someone you just met. Let's get into it!
1. Initiate the conversation with a positive attitude and a smile.
There is nothing better than an introduction made with a genuine smile. This is the first step to building rapport with someone you just met.
By bringing a positive mentality to the conversation, you not only eliminate some of the awkwardness that may or not be there, but you also give them a warm welcome to the dialogue you’re about to share with them.
It’s vital that you smile as well! This is one of the physical ways that we can articulate ourselves without having to say a word.
However, I should remind you to do what is comfortable for you. If you fake a smile, people will be able to tell that something is off.
2. Identify areas you have in common.
By asking questions about the other person, you’ll eventually stumble upon an area of their life that you relate to. This is where you can really start to show off your communication skillset.
Don’t be afraid to just let them talk! Often times, people love to talk about themselves and what they are interested in. Use this to your advantage by encouraging conversation while learning bits and pieces of information about who they are and what they like.
Draw from the area that you both have in common as your main talking point (without overdoing it). You want to engage them in mutual conversation that goes back and forth like a ball in a tennis court.
3. Encourage conversation by showing respect and interest in what they are saying.
It’s important to show people that you care and you’re listening. Building rapport with someone indicates gaining their trust and liking.
How do you expect this to happen if you don’t appear genuinely interested?
Try using some nonverbal ways to communicate your commitment to the conversation. Head nods, smiles, and eye contact are all great ways to do this.
4. Try to synchronize your behaviors and mannerisms with theirs.
I learned this from a class I had taken during my time as a Communication Studies major. People will subconsciously notice if your behaviors and mannerisms match theirs. When we learn to do this consciously without appearing like we are mocking them, we are able to build rapport much faster.
Try to mimic their hand gestures or postures in slight ways. If they stand open, stand open. If they talk with their hands, talk with your hands. They will subconsciously take note of how you are similar to them and like you more as a result.
There is a fine line between mimicking and mocking, so remember to be subtle and always genuine (noticing a theme yet? Hint: genuine!)
5. Be open and make eye contact.
Your nonverbal communication often is more powerful than your verbal communication. The thousands of ways you use your body to speak for you is highly prevalent when working to build rapport with someone.
Keep your body open and your posture upright. Confidence in your appearance reflects in your conversation.
It’s important to remember to never be closed off. Crossing your hands, sitting away from people, and so forth are all negative influencers that don’t bring you any closer to building rapport with someone you just met.
Don’t forget about eye contact either! This is one of the best ways to not only show your interest in someone and/or the conversation but also to display your intentions as well. Are you looking away from the person while they’re talking? If you are, they probably notice - and it’s not a good thing.
Keep your eye contact simple and focused on them while they’re speaking. Not only is this out of respect, but it also helps you to build rapport with them much faster.
I hope that this helped you gain a better understanding of how I personally build rapport with people I just meet! This is applicable to any area of life, and I hope you take this advice and start applying it to random strangers you meet while waiting in line, new business clients, and even relationships interpersonally as well!