Building Rapport

Friends Around WorldIntroduction from Alana:

Today, I’m so excited to introduce you to the incomparable, Karah Maloley.  I met Karah several years ago when she came to Kansas City for Kauffman FastTrac Facilitator certification.  At that time, we had opportunity to have dinner together.  It was a remarkable experience for me as Karah is a wonderful conversationalist who is also helpful and insightful and bright and bubbly and super fun to be with!  Last November, she facilitated the life-altering Vail Leadership Institute (“VLI”) retreat I attended at which I made the decision to jump into Coffee Lunch Coffee full-time with both feet.  I credit her with planting the seed for where I am today and am immeasurably grateful.

Karah serves in many capacities:  In addition to being Program Director for VLI, she and her husband, David, founded Vail Valley Dental Care in 2009 where she is Business Director.  She and David also have a wonderful weekly podcast, The Relentless Dentist, on which I was privileged to be a guest about a year ago! 

Karah is one of the most sincere, engaging, loveable people I’ve ever had the privilege to call friend.  I’m not alone.  Through her Love in Practice Movement (look for it on Facebook!), she aims to inspire one million heartfelt connections.  From my perspective, she’s already significantly exceeded her goal!  Through her tips on building rapport, I am confident she will inspire you, too, and you will be well positioned to make heartfelt connections at home, at work and in your community.

With honor, I give you Dr. Karah Maloley…

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Dr. Karah Maloley, DM

Karah MaloleyMost people enjoy having a “great conversation” the first time they meet a new person. As humans, we want to feel a connection to other people and link ourselves to their interests. We wonder, “What do they like that I like?”  It with this question that friendship begins. You know, instinctively, if you can make a new person feel comfortable and break down walls, this can be magical!  That’s how rapport is built.

In our daily lives, we meet people, share our names and then chat. Rapport building initiates in those first few moments when you are connecting and exchanging ideas. It feels great when you connect in a positive way. You experience a sense of connection and feel invested in the other person. If you know anything about emotional intelligence, with rapport, you are using empathy and social skills.

We should seek to establish rapport with everyone we encounter.  The question to ask yourself is:  How can I feel thoughtful, interested in and interesting to those around me?  

I began thinking about this concept early in my career as a therapist working with children. Most of my little clients were not excited about having to talk with a therapist, but they were required to attend weekly appointments with my by their parents.  My going approach focused on being kind, asking them about their interests and doing fun activities with them. It was not about me during the session, it was about them. I knew I had to use my empathy. It solidified my belief that rapport is about others, especially when you are trying to make relationships come alive.

In my own life, I enjoy creating friendships. I tend to see what people are interested in and create conversation so I can learn something from them. Given this tendency in my personality, rapport building is just part of my life – it plays a critical role at the beginning of relationships and throughout them. As I often share with my four-year old son, a great way to get started is simply to be kind to others. And, of course, what we tell our kids, we should practice ourselves as adults. Kindness is the most important component to building rapport.

We can all be proficient at building rapport – and, thus, relationships – with others.  Here are a few tips for building rapport with people you encounter:

  1. Smile!
  2. Establish eye contact (while smiling!) at the other person.
  3. Be sincere.
  4. Use kind words and ask questions.
  5. Find one thing about the other person they are interested in and generate conversation on that topic.

I’d love to learn about ways you have successfully built rapport with others. Please take a moment to comment below.

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