Lessons in Building Rapport from Tony Robbins


Tony Robbins is a renowned motivational speaker and self-help guru – his talks and advice surrounding many topics can be transferable to both your personal life and your professional success.

When it comes to building relationships, whether you’re trying to win over your interviewer or simply make a new friend in a colleague, he wants you to know one thing:

“Rapport is power.”

Rapport itself can be defined as a relationship in which the parties “understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” And it’s your secret weapon when it comes to being successful in your professional endeavours.

Got a big interview coming up? Building rapport with the interviewer increases your chances of getting the job – they’re not going to hire someone they don’t get along with! Need to bag that new client? You guessed it, you’ll need to build a rapport with them first; people are more likely to do business with people they feel like they know and trust.

Sometimes rapport can be instant, we’ve all experienced that click when you meet someone you can get on with straight away, it feels easy. However, we’d be naive to think that we can just ‘click’ with everyone, sometimes it can take a bit of work. Luckily, learning to build rapport with almost anyone is a skill you can hone and develop.

Back to Mr Robbins, he believes that building rapport begins with a feeling of commonality. Which makes a lot of sense – think about the people you get on with best, we bet you have things in common, right? Of course, it’s great to use probing questions to try and find some common ground with the person you’re trying to build rapport with, but Robbins reminds us that the words we say only convey 7% of our communication.

He believes that a really successful way of building rapport is to employ the “matching and mirroring” technique. Let’s consider an interview setting as an example, here are some great ways to help you build rapport using this method:

Handshake – This is your opportunity to get things off to a good start; your interviewer is likely to offer you a firm handshake, start your rapport building mission by matching it. However, remember that it isn’t a competition – no crushed hands, please!

Voice – Exercise caution with this one, you don’t want to mimic the interviewer’s voice or accent – it won’t go down well! However, mirroring the speed, volume and tone of the interviewer’s voice may help to build a bond with them.

What you say – We are by no means saying repeat what your interviewer says, they want a person, not a parrot! However, if you try to use similar terminology and language to them, your interviewer is more likely to feel like they’re interacting with an equal. This will make building rapport much easier.

Body language – Using similar gestures or adopting similar body language or posture to someone can also create a feeling on commonality. So, in your interview, you could watch what your interviewer is doing – are they using their hands a lot when they speak? Are they folding their arms? Crossing their legs? These are actions you can mirror throughout the interview – just don’t do it at the same time as them! It’s also really important to match their eye contact, too.

Like with most things, when you’re using the ‘match and mirror’ technique, use your common sense. The other person is bound to notice if you copy every little thing they do (and they’re likely to be a little freaked out about it, too). The key is to be natural and be subtle, otherwise you may do a better job of scaring people off rather than building rapport with them!

You don’t have to do everything at once, either. Incorporating a couple of aspects of the technique into a particular situation can have a profound effect on your abilities to build rapport.

We trust Tony Robbins’ advice, for the full low-down on building rapport, watch his TED talk on the subject:

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