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Rapport-Building Activities

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Everyone who has ever had to make a presentation, close a sale or make a friend has had to build rapport to be successful. Learning how to quickly create an open and receptive relationship with strangers is something most people can do. The activities suggested in this article can help.

How Are We the Same?

Rapport is based on a sense of familiarity and trust. One of the easiest ways to establish rapport is to focus on the ways in which you and the person or people you are working with are similar. Perhaps you come from the same country, city or state. Perhaps you share a profession that gives you a similar set of aptitudes or common experiences. When you meet people, make it a practice to see several ways in which you are similar to them. As an exercise to teach others how to build rapport, have groups of five or six people sit in a circle and over a period of five minutes identify 10 ways in which they are similar to one another. Similarities can range from all being parents to all having cell phones. By exploring similarities, the group members will build rapport with one another very quickly. This will illustrate the skill they have mastered.

How Do We Differ?

Another way to build rapport, particularly in difficult circumstances, is to identify ways in which we differ from the person or people we are talking to. Recognizing those differences reminds us that everyone is an individual and yet there is a way to work together. In fact, it is our ability to work together that allows us to remain individuals. Talking about the differences in one another that we find attractive is a great way to acknowledge individuality while building rapport. As a rapport-building activity for a group or class, have groups of five or six people quickly build a list of ways in each person is unique. Each member much have a trait or skill that no other member shares. It may be the ability to fence, it may be coming from a foreign country or it may be owning horses. The key thing is that each person share enough to find out what sets them apart. In the process, the group members will build rapport with one another and will see how they are united in their differences.

How Can We Help?

Most rapport is based on the idea that people are in a position to help one another. Sales presentations, classes, friendships and a hundred other relationships based on rapport are based on the idea of helping one another. As an individual, moving into a room and looking for ways to help people is a great way to build rapport and also help to establish authority. Hosts are responsible for ensuring that people have a place to sit, food to eat and a place to hang their hat. When you begin recognizing and meeting those needs, you establish rapport and you establish yourself as a leader. As a group exercise, allow groups of five or six people to sit in a circle. Ask each member to identify a way they like to be of service to others. They may describe how they always like to make sure children in a group have something to eat. They may talk about how they like to bring food to events or how they like to pick people up and take them home from events. In reviewing these examples of service, each member of the group shows how he takes authority and builds rapport naturally.


Nancy Fulton is a professional writer with more than 20 years experience writing articles, books, business plans, marketing materials, website content and training products for schools and fortune 500 firms. She has also taught for UCLA and produced multiple films. As a serial entreprenuer she has worked in many industries and with a variety of government agencies.

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