Rapport: 10 Ways to Communicate More Effectively Without Changing What You Say


Coach and communications expert Kate Taylor lets us into the secrets of using rapport to get ahead. Rapport. That feeling of harmony, being in sync and just “getting” each other. Meeting someone at a dinner party and feeling you could talk for hours. Finding a kindred spirit at a networking event. It can seem so simple that we often take it for granted. But what about those times the rapport is clearly missing; when the vibe is downright tense and no-one seems to be on the same level? Is that just the luck of the draw or can we actively influence the level of rapport we have with someone else?

Rapport - the essence of non-verbal communication - is an art. Not only can we learn to build it, but to be successful, we need it. It makes up over half of how we communicate and it’s essential across the work board from networking to sales. Rapport creates feelings of commonality, it helps to build trust and respect and gets you on the same wavelength – and quickly. So, here are 10 simple, but highly effective ways to actively build rapport:

Matching & mirroring

Matching and mirroring is the ‘dance’ that goes on between us when we’re in rapport. To get into rapport with someone start by following their cues – sit in the same way they sit, follow their gestures and hand movements. But make sure you’re doing it subtly as there’s nothing more damaging for rapport than someone who thinks you’re copying their every move.

Pacing & leading

It takes between 5-10 minutes of pacing to fully get into rapport with someone. You can test you’re in rapport by doing something different, like putting your hand through you hair. If you’re in rapport you will notice the other person unconsciously lifting their hand to do the same thing. You can then become the rapport leader, which means that you can change the energy of the interaction and get the other person to follow your cues.

Rapport is part of successful relationship building: Read more on the importance of female relationships at work here.

Eye contact

To maintain good eye contact simply take notice of the colour of the other person’s eyes are, or by imagine an inverted triangle around both eyes and their nose – shift your gaze from eye to eye and nose.

Body language

We give constant messages through body language; arms should be open not crossing the body, hands should be on show not hidden in pockets, face in towards someone – all are welcoming, not defensive.


We all talk with our hands so you can match the other person’s hand movements and gesticulations. Or, if they’re a foot tapper you can move tap your hand or a pen gently at the same pace as them.

Tone of voice

Follow the other person’s tonality, volume and speed of how they talk. If it’s too much for you remember that you can pace and then lead to bring them to where you feel comfortable. Match their style and content of conversation.


From the handshake to a hand on the shoulder, or a gentle hand on the back, match what the other person is doing. Be aware that they will have their own level of comfort when making physical connection with other people so only do as they do.

Personal space

Again, we all have our own levels of comfort with this, but if someone likes getting up close then stay there for a moment longer than you would normally to get into rapport. Conversely, if they like to be further away then don’t encroach on that space.


Make an active attempt to remember someone’s name, look for commonality to break the ice, give a compliment, ask an open question to open up a let conversation flow. When people felt listened to they feel empathised with – this is great for rapport.


By matching the way someone is breathing means that you will feel completely connected to the other person. Be aware that breathing should be steady and deep so if the other person is nervous and shallow breathing you can help them by consciously breathing slower and they will start to do the same.

So try out a few techniques and see what works well for you in different scenarios. It’s never one-size-fits-all and some will work better than others depending on where and who you are with. Once you’ve taken on some of these tools it quickly becomes the most natural thing to do and you will become a master of rapport. Which tips have worked for you? And how have you used rapport to build career success? Let us know in the comments below.

About Kate Taylor | Up Coaching: Kate Taylor from Up Coaching is on a mission to save the world one gorgeous person at a time. She works with women in the creative and tech sectors to help them design and create their best lives through purpose and passion.

Contact Kate on kate@upcoaching.co.uk