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How to Build Rapport With Other People

Updated on April 18, 2010

All About Building Rapport

Rapport is the deepest level of relationship, and different people move from initial connection to rapport in different ways. Since different people reach rapport by different routes, your success at building rapport with someone can be somewhat hit-or-miss.

Fortunately, there are some general patterns you can follow to make building rapport a little easier to accomplish. Using the principles in this lens, you can learn to build rapport more quickly and more predictably.

My friends Jean Brun and Jim Carty helped to develop these concepts.

What Exactly Is Rapport?

Rapport is a deep level of relationship. defines rapport as:

relation; connection, esp. harmonious or sympathetic relation

In a business setting, the state of rapport represents the stage of relationship where people will refer business to you and ask for your recommendation of others.

In a team setting, the state of rapport represents the stage of relationship where people can focus on the work without really worrying too much about relationship issues. Team members know each other well and seldom question the motives of other members of the team.

If you want to build a strong team or develop your business based on great word-of-mouth marketing, rapport is your goal.

"rapport." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 23 Aug. 2008.

Pictures courtesy

A Video To Help You Use the Info On This Page

You can see more videos on this topic at my YouTube channel.

You can also get more on this topic at my blog The Recovering Engineer.

The Rapport Ladder

How Different People Build Rapport

The rapport building process has four stages:

  • Connection: At this stage of the process, people know each other. They work in the same office, they have traded business cards, etc. Somehow they know each other.

  • Trust: At this stage of the process, people trust each other. Different people tend to have different ways of looking at trust:

  • Task-oriented people tend to view trust transactionally.

  • Do you do what you say you are going to do?

People-oriented people tend to view trust relationally. Do you treat people nicely?

Do I believe that you will treat me nicely.

Relationship at this stage of the process, people have something of a relationship with each other. You have not reached rapport yet. You do have a relationship.Task-oriented people tend to view relationships transactionally as well. They tend to move into the relationship stage of the process after they decide if they can trust you based on how you handle tasks.

People-oriented people tend to move to relationship quickly. They often decide if they like before they decide if they trust you.

Rapport this is the deepest, strongest form of relationship. It usually takes some time and effort to get there.

Because task-oriented people tend to view things transactionally (based on how you handle tasks), they generally move through the steps like this:

  1. Connection
  2. Trust
  3. Relationship
  4. Rapport

Because people-oriented people tend to view things relationally (based on how you handle interactions with people), they generally move through the steps like this:

  1. Connection
  2. Relationship
  3. Trust
  4. Rapport

Notice that the two different types of people move through the process in different ways. To build rapport with a person:

  1. Recognize how they probably see things, and
  2. Focus your efforts appropriately.

If they more task-oriented...

...How you handle your time and tasks will be the first thing they notice about you.

If they more people-oriented...

...How you speak and interact with others will be the first thing they notice about you.

How To Tell The Difference Between Task and People Orientation

People who talk about what they "think" or "how things are" are often task-oriented.

People who talk about what they "feel" or "how things seem to me" are often people-oriented.

3 Tips for Building Rapport With Task-oriented People

  • Get to business quickly. They don't want to "waste time" talking about personal or unrelated matters.

  • Deliver on-time every time. They will trust you more quickly and more completely if they know that they can count on you to get tasks done correctly and on time.

  • Focus on results and logic. They don't really care how you feel about a subject. They want to know what results you can deliver and the logical, factual basis for whatever you say.

3 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make With Task-oriented People

  • Arrive late for a meeting. They tend to view your punctuality with them as a measure of how much they can trust you. So, don't be late!

  • Fail to deliver a proposal, return a phone call, or respond to an email in the agreed to time frame. They often view trust through a "transactional" filter. If you don't deliver on time, you can't be trusted. So, always deliver when you say you will!

  • Ask too many personal questions. Early in your relationship with them, they probably don't want to share personal details. They'll let you know when they're ready to talk about their family. So, be friendly, but stick to business!

Remember that task-oriented types view almost everything through a lens that says:

1. “How does this affect time?” and

2. “Is this reasonable and logical?”

3 Tips for Building Rapport With People-oriented People

  • Smile and relax. They want to know if you like them or not. They really care what you think of them personally.

  • Ask about and listen to their stories and experiences. This act of personal concern shows them that you care about them.

  • Answer their questions about your family and personal experiences. This sharing of personal experience helps them to connect with you better.

3 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make With People-oriented People

  • Get straight to business. They tend to evaluate you based on your interest in them as people. So, smile and relax. Give your meeting a little time to "warm-up."

  • Ignore them. People-oriented types generally want you to notice them for who they are more than for what they did. Pay attention to them as people.

  • Speak rudely or harshly to someone else while you are in their presence (on the phone, to a waiter, etc.). They tend to evaluate you by how you treat people. Be careful!

Remember that people-oriented types view almost everything through a lens that says:

1. “How does this affect people?” and

2. “How does this impact relationships?”

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What insights can you offer? What would you like to see here?

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    • profile image

      EffectiveCommunicationAdvice 5 years ago

      I like how you divided the tips for approaching task-oriented and people-oriented folks. Also, the Rapport Ladder is an interesting topic I had not heard about.

    • Duglaiglas profile image

      Mr. Douglas L. HIll 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Really wonderful information... As a truly dominant person, sometimes the dominant portion of the person is not visible or made clear initially... so, in getting to know them - you may ask: What have you been working on lately that's really important to you?? (BUT... I advise, DO NOT ask this question if you really don't care). You've just lost a friend should they see your inquiry as trite or insincere.

    • profile image

      MervynGoh 7 years ago

      hi, thanks for sharing this comprehensive list and i agree that building rapport is the essential key to sell yourself to the others.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I don't hate you I just like you allot. the ore get to know you the more I like you.

      Note: In the "Resolving Conflict in Teams Blog" area...the third entry would require to be moved to the left - just because I know you care.