Building Rapport and Connection

I loved the Olympics – not only the drama of the sporting events, but also the interviews with the athletes after their event.  Observing their physical energy and style of communication gives insights into their personality.  If you pay attention to someone’s style, you can adapt how you respond, to build rapport and connection with them. 

For example, a good way to build rapport with someone is to match their physical energy.  If they are coming across as animated and energetic, or calm and reserved, then matching their speed and tone of voice, and their body posture helps to build rapport. 

Have a look at these clips of some of the athletes in their post-event interviews.  What strikes you about their personalities and how would you build rapport with them?

Here is my take, based on the Interaction Styles framework. 

Laura and Jason Kenny, both cyclists, are “very different in personality and character”, according to the commentator Clare Balding.    

Laura Kenny displays the Energiser style of interaction – even after losing the women’s omnium, she looked lively, spoke quickly and was animated and expressive.  

If you want to build rapport with someone like Laura, then showing interest and enthusiasm is a good way to start. Energisers like to collaborate with others, so invite them to join in with you, encourage them and praise their ideas (as long as its genuine). 

Jason Kenny shows the Synthesiser style.  He was described as “laid back” by Chris Hoy, and even after winning his Gold medal, his celebrations were subdued, and he spoke quietly in an unassuming manner. 

To build rapport with someone like Jason, take a low-key approach, be open and friendly and leave some pauses for thinking.  Synthesisers like to take lots of factors into account before reaching a decision, so give them time to consider and credit for their efforts.   

Adam Peaty, the swimmer, shows the Mobiliser interaction style.  He speaks quickly and sounds confident and determined.  He often appears to be in charge and has a commanding manner towards others. 

If you want to build rapport with someone like Adam, then get to the point quickly and use a fast pace with direct eye contact.  Mobilisers like to make quick decisions and move on, so tell them what you are doing and when.

I haven’t found a clip to illustrate the Navigator interaction style at the Olympics – let me know if you find any! 

The Interaction Styles framework is a great way to get insight into how you come across to other people, and how to adapt your style to communicate more effectively with them.    

Why not explore your style through my book or take a look at the Resource Hub on my website?