How To Click With Someone Different From You

Learn how to skip the awkward silences and quickly connect with someone you have little in common with.
Learn how to adjust your communication style and body language to build rapport with anyone.

In any job, having good relationships with co-workers is important. This goes beyond keeping a professional relationship, to building a rapport with others.

Rapport is the sense of affinity or harmony we have with someone else – it’s the feeling that we “click” with them. When we have rapport with someone, communication is smoother. We understand each other’s ideas better.

With some people, this feeling comes naturally. With others, rapport may seem difficult to establish. They may come from a different socioeconomic background, generation, industry – or have a contrasting personality or working style.

Nevertheless, connecting with someone different from you is possible. Follow these tips to learn how to build rapport with anyone:

Know How They Prefer To Connect

It’s good to use language and communication styles that the person you are talking to understands and prefers. If you are talking to someone who is less fluent in English or from a different generation, for example, avoid using slang they may not be familiar with.

When talking to someone from a different generation, use the communication style they prefer.
When talking to someone from a different generation, use the communication style they prefer.

Baby boomers value background information and details. Gen Xers like to be blunt and direct, while millennials prefer honesty and meaningful interaction.

Slow Down To Prevent Slip-ups

When meeting new people, we may make assumptions about them based on what we immediately observe. Having these biases may affect how we act or talk to others. To avoid making blunders, resist the urge to answer immediately so that you have time to assess your response and catch yourself.

In the same vein, we should refrain from judging too harshly any mistakes or misinterpretations made because of our lack of familiarity with each other’s background. Try to remain open-minded and keep things light-hearted if you know the other party’s intent was not malicious – and be swift and sincere with an apology if you commit a faux pas.

When making small talk, listen for shared experiences or circumstances so that you can find more things to carry the discussion forward.

Build Up Your Conversation Skills

As with all new relationships, making conversation is a good way to get the ball rolling. Aside from asking good questions, you can direct the conversation to topics the other person is knowledgeable about, such as their field of work. When making small talk, listen for shared experiences or circumstances so that you can find more things to carry the discussion forward.

Another good conversation skill, according to social interaction specialist Patrick King, is being able to follow the “breadcrumbs” in a conversation and set aside our own interests.

For example, if the other person appears excited about a topic, or asks many questions about it, that’s a sign that they want to keep talking about it. Being a good conversationalist in this context means continuing to ask them about that subject, instead of shifting the discussion to something we are interested in.

Remember the Small Details

Building rapport will take time, especially with people who are very different from us. For a start, showing that you remember the small details about others will delight them. Being an active listener can help you notice and memorise these details.

If you already meet regularly at work, building bonds will be easier. Outside of work, you can build rapport in small ways – send them articles they might find interesting or that remind you of a conversation you had with them.

Remembering the little things others share about themselves will come in handy here. If you know that they have young kids, for example, sending them suggestions of family-friendly places to visit is one way to grow your connection with them.

Match Your Body Language and Vocal Tone

Nonverbal communication is an understated but important part of building rapport with someone.

When we talk to someone we like or are interested in, we tend to copy their body language, speech patterns and facial expressions. This phenomenon, known as mirroring, can also be used to show someone that you’re interested in what they have to say.

Match your body language and vocal tone

Mirror their body language such as posture and hand gestures. Adjust your energy level to match theirs – if they speak less animatedly, for example, you should not sound too energetic when you reply.

You should also match the volume and tempo of their voice, and even their accent (speaking more colloquially or enunciating better).

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    Mar 21, 2023
    Hidayah Md Sham
    Lei Ng
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