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How To Build Rapport With People And How Not To Build Rapport

Written by: Richard Hilton, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


There are times when dealing with people that you want to have a deep rapport with that person. There are other times when you don’t such as the annoying colleague or relative and if you are working with someone that is suffering from depression it is probably the best option not to build rapport too deep a rapport with them as you get yourself into a depressed state.

Cropped shot of a group of unrecognizable people fitting puzzle pieces together on the floor

Dr John Grinder says that if you what to have a deep rapport with someone “treat them like they are the most important person that exists”. Really listen to what that person is saying and be mindful that you are not going to have your own response ready to that person’s problem as listening is a really hard thing to do. I did hear someone once say when someone comes to you with a problem “do you want me to listen or do you want me to help you fix it? Which one?”

5 ways how to build rapport

1. Ritual greetings: such as handshakes or bowing or whatever the local custom is, or if lost asking “Excuse me, can you tell me how do I get to…” The person you are dealing with may most likely think “you are trustworthy and possibly safe to be around”.

2. Small talk: This shows the person that you are interested in them or how they are. It is also a safe place to figure someone out and set boundaries. It is best to stay off topics such as politics & religion as these can be hot emotional buttons.

3. Big talk: the small and engaging in deep and meaningful conversations, the boundaries are being set and you are getting to know the person that you are talking with. An example of big talk instead of asking, “what hobbies do you have?” Ask instead, “What is the most interesting thing about that hobby?” Or “What do you enjoy most about that activity?”

4. Work talk: is similar to Big Talk this is where valuable information is in an exchange of ideas, in finding out what makes the person do what they do and, in a therapy, setting it is where the magic happens.

5. Exit: this is where you may want to meet the person again and continue the discussion and setup for next time. You can achieve this by ending the conversation in an upbeat manner reinforcing how much you enjoyed your time together and would like to continue the conversation later if that is the aim.

How to not build rapport

1. Skipping the big talk: going straight from small talk to work talk.

2. Being too nice: originally nice meant, ignorant, and stupid. Being too pleasant and agreeable gets you walked over as it shows you don’t value yourself and the person you are dealing with won’t value you as much either.

3. Trying too hard or being too pushy: comes off as being desperate and not many people like being around desperate or needy people. The salesman that focuses on the sale and not on the customer’s needs, that customer can smell it a mile away.

4. Disinterest: For the person that you are talking to, you haven’t noticed that their eyes have begun over and missed the cues like being fidgety or not engaging with you they keep asking you to repeat yourself. The conversation isn’t a conversation it is a monologue.

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Richard Hilton, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Richard is a former member of the British Army. Upon leaving the military he studied extensively in self-defense, Conflict Management. Due to going through a difficult period on leaving, he realised that he needed to make major changes in the direction of his life He then began to study NLP and Hypnosis. He is now helping veterans and first responders with the difficulties and challenges that they are facing on a daily basis. He has also self-published his first book "Whispers over Windermere"



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