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Rapport is a powerful state to strive for in any relationship. More so in relationships during a difficult or crisis situation.

Establishing genuine rapport with a complete stranger can be achieved in as little as 5-10 minutes. As a Lifeline crisis supporter I (attempt to) do this with every single call. It requires an authentic desire to understand. This is crucial to just about any human interaction that needs to achieve an outcome based on collaboration and trust.

When we have successfully created enough rapport with someone,  even a complete stranger,  we stand a much better chance of communicating effectively and authentically. This leads to trust,  and will make doing business much easier and less stressful. In crisis support situations,  establishing rapport saves lives.

Empathy is the core skill we use to develop rapport.  Empathy is the intention to truly understand the other person’s situation. Without judgement, collusion, or with a need to control or fix the situation.

Empathy is manifested through:

  • Listening
  • Showing attentiveness
  • Focusing on the other person
  • Being with the other person
  • Asking questions (to understand; not to judge or to tell)
  • Echoing their words and body language
  • Checking your understanding (not making assumptions)
  • Reassurance
  • Compassion

Empathy can be developed by learning and practising these skills. The first step is to simply shut up and listen – it can be incredibly hard until you get used to it!

The ability to build rapport is one of the most useful and helpful skill I’ve ever learnt. If you work with people I would strongly recommend acquiring this skill.

There are plenty of resource online that can teach you how to listen. You can also take courses.  Or sign up to volunteer at your local crisis support line!

Image: Colourful Hands via Shutterstock.