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Ep #19: Replay: Five Easy Ways to Build Rapport That You May Not Be Using

Mastering The Power Skills with Kathy Dockry | Replay: Five Easy Ways to Build Rapport That You May Not Be Using

This week’s episode is a flashback to one of the most popular episodes of this podcast so far, and it’s especially relevant as we head into the holiday season. You’re probably juggling multiple work and personal commitments at the same time, and this episode is going to make your life a little easier as you near some well-deserved time off.

When you have easy and effective tricks up your sleeve that you can apply in the workplace, relaxing and enjoying this time becomes so much more possible. And on this episode, you’ll hear five fun, easy, and simple ways for you to build rapport so other people feel at ease and receptive to your brilliant ideas. 

Listen in this week to discover why building rapport is essential for growing the power skill of influence, and five ways to do so that you may not be using. You’ll learn how this not only accelerates the process of others knowing, liking, and trusting you, but why this is personally rewarding work for you too. 


If you’d like some personal guidance on how to use the power skills of influence, persuasion, or presence in your workplace, we’ve got your back. Email us explaining your situation, and we’ll feature your inquiry on an upcoming episode, making sure you have tips and strategies to help navigate your situation skillfully, all while keeping your identity anonymous of course!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why building rapport is vital for growing the power skill of influence.
  • How to accelerate the process of building rapport with someone who doesn’t already know, like, and trust you.
  • Why the language you use in building rapport with others matters. 
  • One question to ask that will make it easy for someone to open up to you.
  • What it means to take people out of the present and instead to the past and to the future. 
  • 5 easy and fun ways to build rapport. 

Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:


You are listening to episode 19 of Mastering The Power Skills. What if you always had a simple way to help other people feel more at east and more receptive to your ideas? Well how about five simple ways?


Today’s episode is a flashback to one of our most popular episodes so far. And I think it’s especially relevant as we head into the holiday season and are juggling so many work and personal commitments. When we have some easy and effective tricks up our sleeves we all can relax a little and enjoy ourselves. And if that sounds good to you, then let’s dive in.


How much more could you accomplish if you were 25% or even 50% more influential and persuasive? Welcome to Mastering The Power Skills, the podcast that provides you with the tips, strategies, and the inspiration to grow your own power and win support for your ideas. And now here’s your host, C-suite leadership coach Kathy Dockry.


Well, hello, my friends, I hope you’re in the mood for some simple tips you can use right now because that’s what I have for you today. In this episode, we’re going to talk about some fun and easy ways to build rapport.


I don’t know about you, but those two words, “fun and easy” are music to my ears. The work world can be hard and complicated place, even when you love what you do. We all deserve a little fun and easy sometimes. But even more so, when fun and easy things also are powerfully effective, wow, why wouldn’t we be doing them and creating some good results for ourselves?


But before I get to those fun and easy tips, let’s talk a little what rapport means. The dictionary definition of rapport is this, a friendly, harmonious relationship. Especially a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy. In other words rapport is that comfortable feeling among people where you like each other and often feel that you get each other, even when you disagree about particular issues.


Building rapport is one of those skills we call the influencing skills. And you can learn more about what influencing is in Episode 2 of this podcast, the one called The Tools That Will Grow Your Power. That episode explores each of the power skills, the skills of influencing, persuasion, and presence, and it explores them in depth.


But for today, let’s just say influencing skills are all about creating a supportive environment where people know, like and trust you. And when you have that environment of know, like and trust, then it’s easier for you to propose an idea and gain the approval or buy-in of other people.


They aren’t skeptical of you and they want to be helpful. So clearly, the ability to build rapport is a valuable influencing skill to have at your fingertips. When you have rapport with someone, they kind of get you and you kind of get them. You feel like you’re on the same page.


When you have to make a presentation, for example, to a room full of people with whom you have rapport, it’s a good feeling. You know you’re likely to get a good reception for your idea. And that’s so much of a better feeling than making a presentation cold to a room full of strangers. And when you have rapport with someone, it’s also so much easier to ask for a favor, isn’t it? When you don’t feel in sync with someone, it can be uncomfortable to ask for a favor.


So, at this point you might be saying, “Yeah, I get it, Kathy. Having good relationships is really helpful when you want to win support for an idea or proposal. And I’m a friendly person, I already know how to build relationships.” Well, yes, you probably do. But you also are probably building those relationships slowly over time, the way most of us do.


Wouldn’t it be helpful to accelerate that process, to build rapport faster with someone who doesn’t already know you? And that’s where these tips come in. They’re certainly no substitute for building a deep relationship. But they can definitely accelerate the process of feeling in sync with someone, and they make it easier to build that deeper relationship, if that’s what you want.


Okay, time to get to the good stuff, the 5 easy ways to build rapport. Tip number 1, notice which word the person uses all the time, either the word think or the word feel, and use that word too.


So it’s a really interesting but little known fact that we each have a preference for one of those words when we’re talking about something that we’re processing. You might say, for example, “Kathy, I think we should do this.” And I might say back to you, “Oh, no, no, no, I feel we should do something else.” So what just happened there?


Well, each of us just revealed a preferred way of delivering information and opinions and making decisions. You used the word think, so it’s likely that your preference is to express your opinions using objective logical terms. And I used the word feel, so it’s likely that I have a preference for expressing my opinions in subjective in feeling terms.


Once you know this fact, you begin to see this everywhere and you can try this out for yourself. The next time you’re in a lengthy meeting, you can entertain yourself by seeing who says “I think this” all the time and who, in contrast, says “I feel this” all the time.


Now, if you do that you may see more people who say “I think” than people who say “I feel.” And that’s because corporate cultures tend to attract a lot of people who are likely to express themselves in objective, logical language. But I guarantee you’ll start noticing the ones who say “I feel” as well.


And, of course, neither style is inherently right or wrong. They are both useful styles for reasons we can get into at some other point. But both you and I naturally feel more comfortable and on the same page with someone who has the same style. So, a quick way of getting in sync with someone is to use their preferred style when you’re talking with them.


You’ll say “I think we should do this” when you’re with someone who has a preference for expressing themselves in that way. And then you can change that to “I feel we should do this” when you’re with someone who has the “I feel” preference. When you do this with someone, they’re going to feel that you get them in a very basic way, that you and they have some rapport going on.


Okay, tip number two, remember to use the words we and us a lot, versus the words I and me. Now, this is so easy, right? It’s almost ridiculously easy. We know often that we should use the word we versus I, but do we remember to do this regularly? No, we do not. Even I can forget about this one, and I should know better.


Using the words we and us send a message to the other person. The message is “You and I are the same page. We have a similar value or a similar point of view. We’re in this together.” And the message really is “We have rapport.”


Okay, let me give you an illustration of how this looks. Imagine saying to someone: “I’d like to see fewer meetings. I’m juggling too much now and these meetings are distracting me from the priorities.” Okay, now imagine saying basically the same thing to someone but instead phrasing it this way, “We should probably have fewer meetings. We are all juggling a lot right now and these meetings are distracting all of us from our priorities.”


See the difference? The first version was you simply expressing your opinion. The second version was you saying, basically, we’re aligned and we have common interests. So your takeaway should be using the words we and us helps to build rapport.


Okay, onto tip three, take people to the future. What? Well, of course I don’t mean literally. But I do mean look for opportunities to ask people about their positive views, their hopes and their dreams for the future. Now, these could be their personal hopes and dreams, for example. For their family, for their career, for their dream trip or their hobby. But it could also be a work-related hope or dream. For their dream job or how they would like to make the organization better.


And take a little time to explore that future with them. What are they doing and why? How do they feel about it? How is it impacting others? The reason for this is when you get people out of the day-to-day issues that are occupying their minds and take them to a more interesting and energizing future, it’s like you just gave them a mini vacation.


They feel more light-hearted and at ease. And you are the one who gave them that mini-vacation and shared it with them. Kind of cool, right? It’s a little moment of instant rapport.


Which leads us to tip number four, take people to the past. Okay, stop rolling your eyes out there. I promise you I’m not some closet time-travel geek. There is actually some pretty solid evidence that taking people out of the present, where they’re feeling the pressure of their day-to-day commitments and deadlines, and bringing them into the future or back to the past is a fantastic way of relaxing them and having a shared experience that builds rapport.


When you take someone to the past, it’s less about connecting around their sense of anticipation, their sense of who they can be in the future, and it’s more about connecting with their reflective side. Their thoughts about where they came from, what their important experiences were, and what shaped them into the person they are today.


Taking someone to the past can involve their positive experiences, but also negative ones as well. You might ask them about their childhood or their first job. What was it like? What was the best part? What was the worst?


Or you could ask why they did they made certain choices in their lives? Who was the most important person and why? What things might they do differently and why? What is the luckiest thing that ever happened to them? What was the most challenging thing? What did they learn from all of that?


Be sure to convey openness, respectful curiosity, and empathy when you take someone to the past. They are opening themselves up and sharing some part of who they are with you. That’s a gift and you should show respect when that happens.


And don’t rush in to talk about your past. Give the person time to talk about himself or herself. When he or she is done with that, well then perhaps you share something about your own past with them. But you don’t want to inadvertently hog the stage. Give the person the space to feel that you’re sharing the experience with them, not just trading stories.


And finally, easy tip number five for building rapport, ask some variation of this question, “What’s the one thing we can do that will make the most difference to you?”


So what does that look like? Well, lots of time in the workplace, we are meeting with someone to do some mutual problem solving. It could be a boss, or a peer, or even a direct report. It’s a pretty common activity for all of us and this is an opportunity for a little tension to arise.


We may be having thoughts like these, that person and I have different opinions, will we end up having conflict? Or that person and I seem to be on the same page, but will I get stuck doing most of the work? There are a lot of ways in which these little sort of mutual problem solving sessions might get tense. But this is also a great opportunity to build rapport and that sense of a shared experience.


So when you ask the question, “What’s the one thing we can do that will make the most difference to you?” you are sending a message. You are saying, “I see you, I get you, and I want to find out what’s your most important need.” You are also saying, “I want to know and share your priorities.”


The other cool thing about this question is that you are making it more likely that the person you are talking to is really going to open up to you. Some of you may know that before I was a leadership coach and before I was a corporate executive and even CEO I was, wait for it, a trial attorney. And one thing that you learn when you’re a lawyer questioning witnesses, is that you never know what answers you’re going to get when you ask an open-ended question.


There’s a time and place for those sorts of questions, of course. But at other times, open-ended questions can inadvertently lead to confusion, irrelevant information, and even answers you don’t want to hear. But on the other hand  if you ask a more focused question, that’s when you’re more likely to get pure gold. The witness is so much more likely to give you the really relevant piece of information that will move things forward.


And the same is true outside the adversarial world of the courtroom. When you ask the question “What’s the one thing we can do that will make the most difference to you?” you make it easy for the other person to open up. You make it easy for him or her to tell you the one thing that will move things forward in a helpful and productive direction.


And that person generally is grateful to you for having done that because you’ve made their life easier as well as your own life. So hmm, a grateful person who feels seen. There you go, another little moment of building rapport.


So, there you have it, 5 easy ways to build rapport that you may never have heard of before. They’re certainly not the only ways of building rapport, but they are great options for starting out. Why don’t you try one or two of them out, and see what you think?


I bet you’re going to find that building even greater rapport with your colleagues is fun and enjoyable, and even sometimes personally rewarding. And because rapport is one of the influencing skills, when you grow your rapport you’re also growing a more supportive environment for you. One where you’re taken more seriously and your ideas are more likely to get heard and approved. And that’s not a bad outcome, right?


Okay, so go out there and have a great week, my friends, and I’ll see you in our next episode.


Hey there, would you like some personal guidance about how to use the power skills of influence, persuasion or presence on a particular situation in your work place? Well if so, we’ve got your back. Just send us a note explaining your situation to, we’ll drop that email address in the show notes. We’ll feature your inquiry in an upcoming episode, keeping your identity anonymous, of course, and make sure you have some tips and strategies to help you navigate your particular situation skillfully.


Thanks for listening to this episode of Mastering The Power Skills. If you like what was offered in today’s show and want more insights and resources from Kathy, check us out at



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About the author

Kathy Dockry is the Managing Director of Significa Group LLC. Our clients are CEO’s, senior management executives, functional leaders, and fast-rising high potentials in complex organizations. Significa helps them hone the leadership, influence and navigational skills that takes their career success to new levels and brings meaningful change to their organizations.