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Effective Communication and Building Trust

Communicating effectively with others is the way to build rapport. Being in rapport with someone is the route to forging a mutually sustainable relationship. Rapport comes from showing other people, by your behaviour and the words you use, that you understand and accept their model of the world. This creates the basis for mutually co-operative communication. Once the other person feels that they’re being listened to and understood, then you’re on your way to a successful relationship.

Being in rapport is not the same as agreeing with a person all the time. It’s possible to disagree and maintain a good relationship .This is an essential feature of building the mutual trust that will sustain a relationship.

So how does this work? What do you need to do? We communicate and influence through three main channels – our body language, our voice tone and pace, and the words we use. If you can match these aspects with the other person, then they will feel more at one with you. They will have a sense of being more listened to and understood. This occurs on a sub-conscious level; it’s very subtle.

Immediately noticeable on a first meeting is your dress and appearance – dress appropriately and blend your appearance in with your client’s reality. You must be aware of any cultural issues that may have a bearing - for example, if you’re talking to a couple should you address your remarks mostly to one party or to both parties? If you can gather any information beforehand then great, if not, be aware and pick up on indicators as you go along.

You need to be aware of your client’s posture and movement, and you should match them in a subtle way e.g. if they fold their arms, then you might cross your wrists; if they fold one leg over the other, then you could cross your ankles. Use the same amount of eye contact as they do - but keep looking at them even if they’re not looking at you, because this will give you clues. It’s important that you don’t believe that a certain body position means something e.g. if they fold their arms they’re shutting you out – you don’t know - just match them, and you will gain rapport.

Amend your voice tone and pace to be more like them. Listen to the words they use and use some of the key words back to them e.g. client: “I want something that’s reliable” you then might say: “Yes it’s important to you that you have something reliable”. This shows them that you are listening to them and understanding their model of the world.

We cannot fail to communicate with others in any situation, even saying nothing is communicating! We thus need to be very aware what’s going on at any time, so that your client feels understood. Remember, we’ve got two ears and two eyes and only one mouth, and we should use them in that proportion! The matching of posture, gestures, eye contact, voice tone and pace, will enable your client to feel that they are in a relationship that they can trust and that they can maintain in the future.

Is any of this manipulation? The answer is that this entirely depends on your desired outcome and what you want for your client and for you. If you want the best outcome for your client and a mutually profitable and sustainable relationship in the future, then the building of good rapport will only help both parties to achieve their goals.

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