Building rapport with an employee is crucial to the success of the relationship. Without good rapport, you will struggle throughout the coaching process and potentially not achieve the company goals. Rapport can be defined as follows:
- Relation of trust between people
- A feeling of sympathetic understanding [synonym: compatibility]
- In accord, harmony
- Having a mutual understanding, especially a private one
Fundamentals of Rapport Building
Be aware of verbal and nonverbal cues. Rapport is built more on the relational level than on content—through gestures, voice tone, gaze, speech pauses, etc.
Match communication styles. Get in sync with each client’s communication style. This will encourage a cohesive employee-manager relationship that “clicks.”
Pace behavior. Tune in with the client’s present state of being. Observe how he or she relates to the world.
Put clients at ease. When people are in a state of rapport, they tend to respond easier to stimulations, proposals, and advice.
Levels of Rapport
There are four levels of rapport that managers should be aware of for building effective rapport with their clients. These include (1) observation, (2) light rapport, (3) broad rapport (extrinsic), and (4) intimate rapport (intrinsic). The four levels are outlined below with helpful hints.
Level One: Observation
Observe clients. Make a mental note about employees’ nonverbal gestures.
Assess clients. How are they dressed? What is their posture? Do they make eye contact? How do they react to their environment? Try to understand where they are coming from.
Level Two: Light Rapport
Get in tune. People trust those who are interested in them. When managers pay attention to their employees, they feel safer and less isolated.
Be a good questioner. Ask about the employee’s life, family, career track, hobbies, dreams, etc.
Be an active listener. When asking a question, deliberately pause, allowing the client to respond. This is a sign of respect, which builds feelings of safety and trust.
Be honest. Disclose personal information when it is appropriate.
Level Three: Broad Rapport (Extrinsic)
Create a shared reality. Exchange simple ideas and perceptions. Additionally, find things in common.
Be a flexible mirror. Mirror your employee’s demeanors. If they are slow and deliberate, they will feel most comfortable if their manager behaves the same way.
Make empathetic statements. Demonstrate an understanding of employee’s situations and needs.
Find deeper connections. Ask questions about employee’s views, problems, or their reservations.
Level Four: Intimate Rapport (Intrinsic)
Engage in harmonious communication. Accelerate the process of knowing employees by reaching deep down, past their social masks, to find out who they are.
Take interest. Show interest in the whole person and his or her wider abilities. Do not only show interest in the current challenges.
Be charismatic. Managers should address the employee as if they are the only person in the world by focusing intently on him or her. This makes them feel like a priority and makes it easier for that person to trust you.
Be understanding. Express sympathy and understanding with the staff. Acknowledgment of employee’s feelings shows them that they have been heard.