READING PEOPLE: DEVELOPING RAPPORT

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Now let’s take a quick peak at the basics of developing rapport with others. In a nutshell, what it takes is to ask questions, have a positive, open attitude, encourage an open exchange of communications (both verbal and unspoken), listen to verbal and unspoken communications and share positive feedback. Here are a few details on each step.

Ask Questions – Building report is similar to interviewing someone for a job opening or it can be like a reporter seeking information for an article. Relax and get to know the other person with a goal of finding common ground or things of interest. You can begin by simply commenting on the other person’s choice of attire, if in person, or about their computer, if online, and following up with related questions. For example, in person, you could compliment the other person on their color choice and or maybe a pin, ring or other piece of jewelry and ask where it came from. In online communications, you could compliment the other person’s font, smile faces or whatever they use, mention that the communication style seems relaxed and ask if he or she writes a lot. Then basically follow up, steering clear of topics that could entice or cause arguing, while gradually leading the person to common ground you’d like to discuss.

Attitude – have a positive attitude and leave social labels at home (or in a drawer, if you’re at home). Many people can tell instantly if you have a negative attitude or if you feel superior. So treat other people as you would like to be treated. And give each person a chance.

Open Exchange – Do encourage others to share with you. Some people are shy, scared or inexperienced in communicating and welcome an opportunity to share. So both with body language and verbal communication invite an exchange. Face the other person with your arms open, eyes looking into theirs gently (not glaring or staring), and encourage a conversation with a warm smile.

Listen – Be an active listener. Don’t focus your thoughts on what YOU will say next. Listen to what the other person is saying and take your clues from there, while also noting the body language. For example, if the other person folds his arms and sounds upset, you may need to change the subject or let him have some space and distance; maybe even try approaching him later on and excusing yourself to go make a phone call (of head to the buffet table or somewhere to escape). On the other hand, if the other person is leaning towards you, following your every word and communicating with your as if you were old friends, BINGO. You’ve built rapport!

Share – People like compliments. So hand them out freely without over doing it. Leaving a nice part of yourself like a compliment is a good memory for the other person to recall – -numerous times. That’s good rapport. But do be sincere! False compliments aren’t easily disguised.

FUNDAMENTALS OF FINESSE

Basically using finesse in handling relationships means use subtle skill, tact or diplomacy when handling a situation. This doesn’t mean you need to use fancy, flowery phrases or lengthy 10-letter words or anything. It means focusing on the positive in a friendly way, and not embarrassing the other person.

For instance, finesse means not telling a host that he or she has body odor or that his or her house is looks and smells like a trash dump. Instead, it means politely excusing yourself upon entering, and informing the host of an unplanned meeting that came up or family member who dropped by unexpectedly, and that you wanted to drop by for a quick “Hello” to thank the host for the invitation before rushing off to your appointment. Keep things simple here, smile and think, “James Bond” with that English gentleman concept.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

How do you handle conflicts? If you can put your ego aside pretty much and try to keep friction to a minimum, your relationships should move along fairly smoothly. Where you feel disagreement, if you can “agree” to disagree on certain things with the other party involved, that will help, too. In short, conflict resolution means to pretty much deal with others as you would want them to deal with you.

For example, let’s look at fictitious John and Mary, out on their first date at a restaurant. A drunk man passes by their table and accidentally spills Mary’s glass of water. John gets upset and says something along the lines of, “That makes me mad! I hate drunks. They should all be put in jail.”

Mary, on the other hand, who has an alcoholic father (unknown as this point to John), may feel embarrassed and saddened by John’s revelation and get quiet, giving only brief “yes” or “no” answers from that point on.

Hopefully, John picks up on this. He can use finesse and conflict resolution and say, “Mary, I’m sorry for my outburst and really didn’t mean that. Actually, a drunk driver caused an accident that I read about recently, and I’d really like to learn about alcoholism and understand it more.”

A statement like this could help ease the conversation into a more productive stage. Then instead of having an argument about social versus addictive drinking and possibly ending or breaking up the relationship because of conflict, the relationship between two people could actually develop a little farther along or deepen. And John and Mary could both learn more about each other and broaden their perspectives in the process.

SUPPORT CO-OP

Relationships may begin with just two people, but more people eventually become involved. Work friends and associates, family members, old school chums and various other assorted persons interact daily, so gaining the support and cooperation in working towards a common goal is a plus in relationship building.

To put this into perspective, we can look at John and Mary again. If John gets along fine with Mary, but can’t be in a room for 10 minutes with her dad or the rest of her family and friends, the relationship will probably eventually bottom out; i.e. not grow. However, if John can help build some type of relationship with them as Mary does, like joining and participating in a holiday meal celebration, that is a plus and can help build and grow a more solid relationship.

In summary, by learning to use more of these “nuts and bolts” of relationship building, focusing on some of these basic techniques can help build and grow relationships. More can be learned about each technique by simply heading to the local library or typing in the technique into your favorite search engine. Forget that, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” saying. We’re not dogs. And humans CAN learn – at any age!

Posted in: Love & Relationships

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