Keys to Developing Rapport During Negotiations

Rapport is a powerful predictor of how well negotiators trust one another in order to reach an agreement. When there is a strong rapport between negotiators, you are likely to find a greater willingness to cooperate, more honest communication, and willingness to share important information. A good rapport also prevents misunderstandings, hostility, and frustration at the bargaining table. The ability to connect with people is the key to a successful negotiation, so here are some tips for developing rapport during negotiations. 

Earn Their Trust

Building a strong rapport with someone begins with establishing trust. Trust is the catalyst that pushes two parties forward to work together in a mutually beneficial way. You can earn the trust of someone else by taking a genuine interest in their needs. Rather than trying to come in and establish your position, you try to listen and understand the needs of the other person. This sincere effort immediately creates a feeling of trust between you and the other party. Rather than looking for an opportunity to advantage yourself at the other person’s expense, relationship-focused negotiators seek win-win solutions. This will help to build a legacy of trust between you and your counterpart which in turn will strengthen your rapport. 

Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

You can also improve your rapport during negotiation by paying attention to your non-verbal body language. Maintaining eye contact, smiling, nodding your head in agreement, and leaning in to listen can all be indicators of openness and interest. Avoid crossing your arms, looking down, or furrowing your eyebrows as these nonverbal cues can indicate disinterest or frustration. 

Meet in Person

Whenever possible, it is always best to meet in person. It is much easier to build a rapport with someone through face-to-face interaction rather than through email or over the phone. Although the current pandemic conditions can make this more difficult, you should always try to connect via Zoom or another video conferencing tool if you cannot meet in person. It is still important to see each other and make that connection through more personal interaction. 

Learn About Them

Before just diving right into the discussion, spend some time making small talk with the other person and learning more about them. Talk about common interests, your family, or anything else that might help you connect with them. The more you know about one another, the easier it will be to find a commonality that builds trust. Besides, everyone wants to do business with someone they like, and asking about someone and taking a vested interest in them personally will help to strengthen your rapport.