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The Power In Rapport

At Human Interactions Australia we are passionate about enhancing the quality of human interactions in the workplace. This starts with trust. To build trust in a team we need to be in rapport with each other. We need to connect effectively and maintain this connection to share ideas and work productively.

To explain rapport, most people have heard the saying “People like people who are like themselves” and this can extend to include “or are how we would like to be”. The opposite is that we are repelled by people who are not like us or not in line with what we would like to be.

This all means we all make judgements and assumptions almost immediately on a variety of factors when we meet someone new. A new leader, a new team mate or a new client, etc. Most of our feelings of whether we trust someone is using an unconscious mind rather than a conscious one. Dr Milton Erickson an American psychiatrist and psychologist, helps us understand this through his concept that we match and mirror each other while we develop rapport. So the science tells us that we will be picking up clues to decide if we trust and believe in the other person. You will know you have rapport if both parties are totally responsive to each other.

The idea here is that rapport is created using common ground. Some people think that this is done using the same words as others, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Science tells us the communication is only 7% reliant on words to get your message across. If we only rely on words we are missing 93% of other communication ingredients to build rapport. 

Here are 3 ways to use the match and mirror technique to boost rapport:

Instant impact and connection

  • “The best present you can give someone is your presence” – focus your energy on the other person, especially in the first few moments. Consciously clear your mind of past or future planning thoughts and mindfully be there with them. You can even breathe with them at the same pace or adopt their general posture.

  • Eye contact – keep appropriate eye contact with others, this will show them you are focused on what they are saying.

  • Handshake – match the style and intensity in this contact with others. 

Pacing with voice and body language

  • Creating a reflection of another person’s body and voice can be quite powerful to boost rapport. You can do this by changing the Tone, Volume, Key words, and Pace of your voice and posture, gestures, facials, proximity, and breathing in your body.

  • Consider trying this with friends and family to see if you build closer connections – it takes practice to observe and practice being in the moment. Over time you will fall into sync with others easily and can even lead others in some behaviours.

Listening with a curious mind

  • People love to chat about themselves – ask questions to understand them more and what makes them tick. When people chat about their passion points they are usually more open and honest and “in flow”. Often they will appreciate being asked about topics that make them feel good. This helps build rapport and trust.

To find out more about how you can improve rapport and trust in your workplace, contact us at or call us on 02 8279 6955.

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