Blog entry by Alan Chapman

Anyone in the world

Rapport Building: Essential for engaging social interaction towards effective communication outcomes

Having the knack to get along with people is always an asset in building human relationships. More so if you work in a field that deals a lot with people, such as sales and marketing. Being able to ‘hit it off’ or ‘get on well’ with someone easily is about rapport building; an underlying communication skill for people to experience during personal interaction with strangers, acquaintances, colleagues, and family members.

A quality that cannot be seen or measured although the impact can be felt when doing it well or otherwise, describing rapport building in the context of communication can be likened to warming up the engine a few moments before driving a car. Think also about the few minutes of heating an oven to a right temperature before baking in the kitchen. Even in sports, athletes are advised to warm up their body first. Within these example of daily life routines, the idea of rapport is simply about naturally warm people up to you first to pave a way for you to get along easily with someone or a group. In a way, it is like a prelude to the main music in orchestra or an appetite before the main course of a meal.It is an elegant introduction to the next heavy part of anything important, and in this case, it is the entry point facilitated by social interaction to the main communication goal.

"Instruments sound interesting, not because of their sound, but because of the relationship a player has with them. Instrumentalists build a rapport with their instruments, which is what you like and respond to."

                                                                                                       Quote by: Brian Eno

An extended definition of rapport within human interaction was offered by Oxford Dictionaries (2018) through "A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well." Many definitions share key concepts within aspects of social interaction, interpersonal relationship, trust, respect, communication effectiveness. and harmonious environment.

"Many believe effective networking is done face-to-face, building a rapport with someone by looking at them in the eye, leading to a solid connection and foundational trust."

                                                                                            Quote by: Raymond Arroyo

On close association with interpersonal communication, many professions emphasize building rapport as a foundation to influence others for developing business and professional relationships towards a achieving a common goal. Further reference to research paper by Bakić-Mirić and Bakić (2008) urged medical practitioners to form a mutual bond and respect with patients to better relate with them. The authors even declared that "a successful rapport is the single most important factor in building a relationship"(p..74) (page.74) . Similarly, Placencia (2004) studied informal corner shop transactions in Quito, Ecuador and went on to identify that positive rapport or friendly relation is enhanced when aiming to achieve a pleasant and even an entertaining experience in service transactions. Later, another extensive study on retail employees in 388 service encounters by researchers; Gremler and Gwinner (September 01, 2008), supported the existence of a close connection between rapport and trust in a service context..Even Campbell, White,and Johnson (2003) recommended to promote rapport management as essential for leaders' interpersonal communication strategy to lessen any competing values in teams so as to clearly establish the importance of relationship building in effective management.

Gaining a better understanding of the factors that contribute to relational constructs, Campbell and Davis (2006).categorized rapport into non-verbal and verbal behaviors.Another study by Gremler and Gwinner (September 01, 2008) on customer and service provider in retailing for enjoyable interactions and personal connection managed to identify rapport building behavior in three areas of uncommonly attentive, common grounding, and courteous behavior. In addition, the researchers revealed new findings for rapport building in factors related to connecting and information sharing behavior. This confirmed an earlier study by Campbell and Davis (2006).about "Increasing levels of rapport builds a deeper sense of loyalty in customers and inspires a greater amount of information "(p.43). Within the framework of increased openness due to rapport building, Jap, Robertson, and Hamilton (2011).cautioned that their study found high levels of rapport may lead to a higher incidence of misbehavior in negotiation; resulting in high degree of conflict in the core values held by the negotiating partners, As such, the study quoted that rapport may be misused from findings in experiments about cases of "misleading negotiation partners and forsaking the interests of employer."(p.17).

Studies offering opposing views on the benefits and shortcomings of rapport building in line with different perspectives do not deter a general consensus from popular books to training courses that depend on rapport building as a central theme to hold content together. A strong positive position is further cultivated in the context of "When two people are able to relate to each other, they form a mutual bond and respect – rapport. Building a successful rapport is the single most important factor in building a relationship".(Bakić-Mirić, & Bakić, ,2008,p.74) So much so that professionals from field sales to medical practitioners are reminded about rapport building to form a basis toward fostering human interaction to communicate effectively.

Being a much researched subject matter, the selection of studies is only a small representation of the extensive value placed on rapport building as a factor related to ability to influence communication outcomes. Further on, Haryati Shaikh Ali and Oly Ndubisi (2011). reinforced implication of rapport building leading and moderating relationship management in different work and social settings.This study.attributed rapport to support in developing respect towards building quality relationship with customers for healthcare service providers. In this regard, rapport building is elevated to become an essential skill for relationship success. Still, some people may find connecting with others does not come naturally. Except for selected few of us being comfortable to bond with people instantly due to inborn ability, the general population needs to receive more social and career incentive to learn about rapport building through proper training couple with attention to real world practice in daily situation.

Studies often connect underlying meaning of successful rapport with influencing results of others, regardless of claims that it is one single most important factor in building a relationship. As with any life skill that enhances human interaction, the key to achieving quality rapport can refer to a few good conversational practice from the service industry. Mainly used by sales and customer service professionals in constant touch with other humans, relational strategies to pursue as part of skills building come in the form of being able to assess: 1) the quality of current relationship in terms of rapport level; 2) the face value of interaction influenced by threatened position and its mitigation; and 3) the social standing if rapport interaction is jeopardized. Attending to concerns on rapport building aspects at the onset communication helps people to decide during early stage of interactions on rapport management strategies.

To summarize, a growing interest in research has supplied an increasingly extensive collection of findings on rapport building with better implications to practical application.Rapport-building process facilitates communication competence to change perception. It aims to demonstrate respect to improve effectiveness of interactions toward strengthening trustworthy relationships.Known as one of many key skills for any individual to demonstrate during social interaction, the three aforementioned rapport building strategies concerning determining quality of existing relationship to determine face value, moderation of perceived threat, and positioning of social status or reputation are worth further exploration in order to achieve communication effectiveness at interpersonal level.


Bakić-Mirić, N. M., & Bakić, N. M. (2008). Successful doctor-patient communication and rapport building as the key skills of medical practice. Facta Univers, 15(2), 74-9

Brian Eno Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Campbell, K. S., & Davis, L. (2006). The sociolinguistic basis of managing rapport when overcoming buying objections. The Journal of Business Communication (1973), 43(1), 43-66.

Campbell, K. S., White, C. D., & Johnson, D. E. (2003). Leader-member relations as a function of rapport management. The Journal of Business Communication (1973), 40(3), 170-194.

Gremler, D. D., & Gwinner, K. P. (September 01, 2008). Rapport-Building Behaviors Used by Retail Employees. Journal of Retailing, 84, 3, 308

Haryati Shaikh Ali, S., & Oly Ndubisi, N. (2011). The effects of respect and rapport on relationship quality perception of customers of small healthcare firms. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 23(2), 135-151

Jap, S., Robertson, D. C., & Hamilton, R. (2011). The Dark Side of Rapport: Agent Misbehavior Face-to-Face and Online. Management Science, 57(9), 1610-1622.

Oxford Dictionaries. (2018). rapport | Definition of rapport in English by Oxford Dictionaries. In Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved from

Placencia, M. E. (2004). Rapport‐building activities in corner shop interactions. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8(2), 215-245.

Raymond Arroyo Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Wong Siong Lai (Alex Wong)

A Man of Thoughtful Action

I work with leaders and organizations to integrate people resources with learning, performance, and development interventions to achieve profitable business results. My passion to establish meaningful learning interventions through feasible human performance technology enables individuals, teams, and organizations to develop respective dynamic growth paths as a competitive edge to lead the marketplace.

As a human performance technologist and professional educator practising blended offline and online education approach with vast work life experience, my philosophy is:

Personal learning is borderless, mindful practice is endless, and continuous development is limitless!!

Lastly, my articles and postings are a result from years of accumulative functional experience as a HRD practitioner. My background in educational content development and L&D program architecture provides additional dimension of research-based resources to complement my work-related observations and personal reflections. Thus, I welcome your comments and sharing of experience for collective learning.

Also, do help to share with your connections and acquaintances so that many more may benefit from this topic. Thanking you in advance

[ Modified: Wednesday, 16 January 2019, 5:50 PM ]