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You spend a lot of time interacting with your coworkers, but that doesn’t mean you inherently share a tight-knit relationship. In fact, 41% of Americans say their coworkers are just that: coworkers.
That’s understandable when the bulk of your conversations centre on work. You talk about projects. And timelines. And status updates. And meeting agendas. You’re on a team together to get a job done, after all.
All of that collaboration becomes a whole lot easier (not to mention enjoyable) if you share some rapport with the people you work with.
Officially, the word rapport is defined as a friendly, harmonious relationship. Especially: a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.
Rapport goes further than simply talking about the weather or doing small talk over the water cooler.
A few telltale signs that you share a good rapport with a colleagues:
Tighter bonds and relationships: Science says that we all share a basic human motivation to affiliate with other people, and rapport helps us feel closer to the people we work with.
Increased happiness and job satisfaction: Those more tight-knit and comfortable relationships at work do more than combat loneliness and isolation—they actually boost our happiness and our overall engagement levels.
Improved collaboration: When you build that solid foundation and mutual understanding with the people you work with, you’re able to work together more effectively.
In all honesty, almost everything you need to know about building rapport and being a good colleague you likely learned in kindergarten with this golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
It sounds basic, but it’s important. You can bring in donuts or make an effort to ask someone about their kids—but that can only do so much. It won’t make up for the fact that you continuously shirk responsibilities or miss deadlines, for example.
Ask yourself this: Are you asking them out of a sense of obligation and politeness? Or are you asking because you’re genuinely curious about how they’re doing? There’s a big difference—and most of us can usually sense which category someone falls into.
This tactic for building rapport is about going beyond the general niceties (you know, the ones you hope to get through as fast as possible before moving into what you really want to talk about) to authentically touch base about how someone is feeling.
Recognition at work is so often talked about from the top-down—as if it always has to come from senior leadership or a manager.
People want to know when they’re doing well, and hearing that (especially unprompted) from their own team members can carry a lot of meaning.
How much do you really know about your coworkers? You might know little quirks like that Arial is their preferred font or that they can’t stand when someone doesn’t clear the cooking time from the break room microwave.
But, much like you, they have entire lives—families, hobbies, experiences, goals, and other priorities—outside of working hours.
For those who are, expressing an active interest in those topics can help you establish and maintain an even deeper rapport.
Rapport isn’t about engaging in trivial small talk with someone once or twice—that might make for an acquaintance, but not necessarily a colleague with whom you share mutual trust and understanding.
Real rapport is about putting in the elbow grease to genuinely connect with the people you work with. Do that and you’ll have a tighter bond, a comfortable dynamic, and a way easier time getting great work done together.
Spending a large amount of time with someone literally causes you to pick up their habits. Choose your friends wisely.
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