Rapport is one of the most important concepts you will learn in understanding social relationships. It is creating liking that will help you in many ways with people, anywhere from getting better service from your waiter to solidifying a relationship with a romantic partner.

Definition of Rapport

Rapport is defined as close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well” (source). In short, it’s a key building block of relating with other people.

Importance of Rapport

At the heart of rapport is this: understanding. Every human being wants to be understood. And those who do understand them will inevitably gain favor with them, whether it is as a lover, a friend, or a boss.

When you develop a good rapport with people, they are likely to describe you as likable, trustworthy, charismatic, or friendly. All of the above are terms you want to be described as if you want to really improve your social skills and become a Social Shiner.

How to build rapport

Building rapport is a fairly simple task. You simply need to understand a person’s feelings and points of view.

If you cannot understand a person, all is not lost: you can emulate understanding by simply mimicking body language and terms used by those in a state of rapport:

  • nodding
  • smiling
  • mirroring (your body language reflects theirs)
  • focus on similarities and not differences
  • develop empathy

These are very simple ideas, but they are very powerful. The last one, in particular, is something that a lot of adults, even those who have had nice upbringings have difficulty understanding.

Rapport is a subconscious element. With understanding of rapport however, you can purposefully inject rapport actions when you feel necessary in order to try and generate rapport with a person. This is something that good salesmen are constantly aware of: they understand that sales are often made based on feelings toward a salesman and rarely based on logic alone.

What an informercial conman can teach us about rapport

Kevin Trudeau, an infamous entrepreneur/conman and late-night infomercial celebrity, has been repeatedly fined and imprisoned for repeated attempts to defraud the general public (source). He is probably a psychopath who lacks compassion for people and has committed credit card fraud as well as created pyramid scheme businesses. Yet, he has made a tremendous amounts of money. How? Because he is an amazing salesman who understands rapport.

In his infomercials for his book about natural cures, he claims that there are natural cures for serious illnesses such as diabetes, AIDS, and cancer. Normally, any claim of such would be met with skepticism from anyone. Trudeau sells himself well though.

Remember the keys to developing rapport? One of them is to understand the person you are talking to. For a lot of people interested in this infomercial, they are probably not very well educated and they themselves or someone they know are suffering from an incurable or expensive-to-treat illness. Trudeau gives them a great line they cannot resist: drug companies choose not to give out the cures because it is more profitable to develop medicine that treats symptoms.

The truth is that Trudeau developers rapport with his words… through a TV! And he has made an illegitimate fortune based off lies and rapport (also, as a business side note, companies do not withhold the cure for illnesses… however, they are concerned with profit, so they will look to develop drugs that could be profitable).

Now, the point is this: rapport is power. Unlike Kevin Trudeau however, you are not using this power to defraud people — you are using it to better interact with people and to ultimately enhance your life.