Building rapport and demonstrating empathy are two great qualities which makes our communication with others more effective. Building rapport is the first step to building relationships both socially as well as in our work life; a reaching out to recognise likeminded people.
Most people are naturally good at building the rapport but we need to look out for when the careless use of the wrong word or phrase can break the connection.
The first thing to do in building rapport is easy. It is to listen. There is no opportunity to understand the other person’s point of view, attitudes and motivations if we talk more than listen. Talking too much can be seen as manipulative in that you are forcing your view on them or you are just plain boring.
The language we use can be seen as very old fashioned or formal. Modelling the language used by your customer helps to build rapport and makes the conversation comfortable. This does not mean adopting the latest slang. That too would quickly reduce rapport and damage your credibility. However you should watch out for unnecessary formality such as ‘I will’ instead of ‘I’ll’ and ‘cannot’ instead of ‘can’t’. Steer clear of clichés or longwinded statements like ‘At the end of the day’ or ‘in the present situation’. Short words are best like ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’ ‘pay’ instead of ‘remuneration’.
We sometimes use certain words and phrases in the mistaken belief that they make our case when, in truth, they irritate the other person to such an extent that they break rapport which weakens our point. How do you feel when someone says ‘with respect… or worse ‘with all due respect’? I know am about to be insulted. Does ‘I hear what you say’ mean they are really listening? I don’t think so.
Avoid ‘Let’s be honest’ or ‘let’s be reasonable’ as well because you’re effectively saying the other person being dishonest or unreasonable. Even the repeated use of the word ‘obviously’ has the potential to irritate.
The art of questioning comes to the fore again when we ask the customer what they are thinking rather trying to out-think them. If you want them to change their view it is easier to do by questioning them to help them rethink their position rather than telling them what you want them to do or say.
Once rapport is established great communicators demonstrate empathy. This means getting into the customers’ shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Not difficult when their world doesn’t impinge on our own but harder when we come to handle complaints or criticisms about us or our business. When the customer complains they had to wait two weeks for their goods which were promised to come within 24 hours, will be more mollified and may feel calmer if greeted with “That must have been a frustrating experience” first rather than simply “Give me your reference number so I can look it up.”! Use language that shows you care and can begin to imagine life in their world.
Quicklearn works with organisations to improve the way they communicate with their staff and their customers. Our workshops are designed to enable participants to experience first hand the importance of rapport and empathy and to practice the skills in a safe environment for use in the workplace. Call 07962 149074 for a no obligation chat about the communication issues you may face.