How to Start and Continue Good Conversations
Building rapport is one of the best ways to get the most out of your relationships, and it’s a win-win situation for all parties involved. In this post I’ll go over several easy techniques you can use to start developing good conversations. If you try even one of these simple methods, you’ll quickly notice the many benefits.
Open your ears, not your mouth.
Often, we become so focused on speaking, we forget to listen. I bet you can think of someone who talks so much they barely have time to take a breath. How would you describe what it feels like to be around someone like this?
When you think of a person who talks non-stop without taking the time to listen, you may think of them as being self-centered, shallow, uncaring, or downright rude. Don’t be that person!
Communication is a two-way street, and if you want others to take you seriously, you need to be a good listener. Don’t fall into the trap of being so focused on your own message, values, or beliefs that you miss out on everything that’s going on around you.
This is especially important if you’re in a leadership role, because you won’t always get honest, direct feedback from others. Keep your eyes and ears open and be alert to what’s being said.
When you talk with your people, really try to listen to what they’re saying. Try to glean info about what they value through what they share with you. Then use what they’ve shared to identify the values that are important to them.
You’ll find that identifying the values of others goes beyond basic listening because you’re listening for what is not being said. Take what you learn and paraphrase it.
If one of your team members tells you that he is very involved in his children’s educational activities and shares details about how important education is to him, say something like, “It really sounds like you value providing learning opportunities to your kids, and you love watching their knowledge grow!”
If you want to build rapport, show a little curiosity in the other person. Click to Tweet!
Think about the last time someone took an interest in you. What did that feel like? Chances are, it felt pretty good when someone else expressed interest in something about you.
Do the same for someone else. Above all, be authentic with this. If you’re working in a business environment, take the time to get to know everyone on your team. Find out who they are as individuals. What are their interests? Values? Goals?
You don’t have to go crazy with this – even just a couple minutes can make a difference. Above, we talked about the importance of genuine listening. I’d like you to try taking this a step further by referring back to earlier conversations when you’re talking to people.
In the example I gave earlier about the importance of listening to identify values, you learned that your team member really values education for his children and is actively involved in their scholastic endeavors.
At a later date when you speak to him, remember to ask him about his children. Be specific. If he told you one of his kids was applying for a scholarship, ask, “How is your daughter’s scholarship application going?”
Your team WILL KNOW when you are genuinely interested. When you refer back to a previous conversation, you let the other person know you heard them and you care.
Be Actively Engaged
It almost goes without saying that being actively engaged – seeking out social interaction and making connections and introductions – is key to successfully building rapport.
In an article on BrainBlogger, author Simi Argarwal, DDS says leaders who promote social interaction within their organization are able to engage a larger range of human intelligence, which is integrated in a natural way to accomplish individual and organizational goals.
As a forward-thinking leader, part of your job is to create a culture where your team feels supported and appreciated. Providing opportunities where your team can interact and collaborate provides clarity and meaning.
Building a team environment that encourages social interaction is an integral component in boosting productivity, efficiency and motivation. But don’t forget about yourself!
In addition to in-person events and interactions, consider using social media. Social networking is very similar to “real life” networking, so remember to be professional while remaining true to your values.
Several big things happen when you build rapport. You learn more about yourself. You learn more about the other person.
Best of all, when you build up your relationships, others are more likely to come through for you when you need help. The other person might be willing to go the extra mile or even to do a task she isn’t fond of – all because you’ve built up a good relationship over time.
What do you do to build rapport with others? What techniques do you find work best? Share your thoughts in a comment below!