Use Active Listening Skills to Build Rapport Effectively

5 ways to build rapport | Names are important | Use an eyebrow flash | Smile! | Active listening | Clear jargon-free communication

Active listening as during sign language conversation.One of the most important aspects of building rapport is being a good listener. This was first pointed out to me by a classic Dale Carnegie book called How to Win Friends and Influence People published 1936 and is still a worthwhile guide to rapport today! He said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming [… obviously …] interested in other people [… using active listening …] than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Active listening skills allow you to engage with the person you are talking to, demonstrate your interest in what they are saying, and make them feel heard and understood.

Actively Give Your Full Attention & Eye Contact

To actively listen, it is important to give your full attention to the person speaking. This means avoiding distractions like checking your phone or looking around the room. You should also make eye contact and use nonverbal cues like nodding and leaning in to show that you are engaged.

Repeat Keywords & Paraphrase

Build rapport with paraphrasingAnother key aspect of active listening is reflecting back what the other person has said. Part of this is, without interrupting, simply repeating keyword used by the other person, occasionally. This can also involve paraphrasing their words back to them. So, given they have finished their point, saying the same thing they just said in a different way, or asking clarifying questions to ensure that you have understood them correctly. By doing this, you show that you are truly interested in their perspective and want to build a strong relationship based on mutual respect.

Mirror Their Body Language Subtly

Mirroring someones body language can aid rapportNon-verbal communication is an active ingredient in all conversations when you can see them. It tells you if the person is feeling comfortable or not. If their arms or legs crossed or their body of face muscles look tense they are likely to feel uncomfortable at the moment. If there arm and legs are uncrossed, if they are animated but, not aggressively so, they are likely to be feeling comfortable and relaxed in your company at the moment.

Fortunately if you mirror somene’s posture and body language subtly while in conversation with them, you can change how they are feeling. If they have crossed their arms in front of you or legs, slowly move to the same posture as you are talking with them. Then after a few minutes, slowly and more subtly uncross your legs and arms to a more open, friendly posture. They may in fact follow your lead. If you do change their posture, the open nature of the stance can allow them to relax more. This is a boon to achieving good rapport.   

Active Listening is Critical to Achieving Good Rapport

Overall, active listening is a critical component of effective rapport building. By showing that you are a good listener, you can establish trust and deepen your connection with the person you are talking to. This can lead to stronger relationships, better communication, and more successful interactions in both personal and professional contexts.


Carnigie D (1936) How to Win Friends and Influence People (p. 58). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.


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