What Is Rapport And How Can A Negotiator Get It?

by drjim on November 15, 2013

Without rapport you are going to have a hard time reaching a deal

Without rapport you are going to have a hard time reaching a deal
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When you spend time thinking about what it takes to reach a deal with the other side of the table no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used, something becomes clear very quickly. If the other side is not comfortable dealing with you, if they don’t trust what you tell them, then it’s going to take a much longer time to reach a deal with them. What this all boils down to for you is that you are going to have to find some way to reach rapport with the other side of the table during your next negotiation.

What Is Rapport?

If you are going to want to reach a level of rapport with the other side of the table, then you are first going to need to know just exactly what “rapport” is. I think that we’ve all heard this term before, but that does not mean that we know what it means.

I like to define rapport as being something that is above and beyond simple trust. The other side of the table has to trust you before you can start to try to develop a sense of rapport with them. Rapport really comes down to both sides of the table having a level of mutual respect for each other.

In fact, it goes just a bit beyond this. You both have to actually like each other. Yes, you are engaged in a business negotiation; however, you are going to have to like the other side enough to be willing to make changes to the deal that is being discussed for your friend on the other side as the negotiations move along.

How Can You Reach Rapport With The Other Side?

Knowing what rapport is can be an important first step. However, now that you know what it is, you’re going to have to figure out how you can establish it with the other side of the table. To make this happen you are going to have to engage in some serious “out of the box” style thinking.

Building a foundation of respect and friendship with the other side of the table is going to require you to spend time with them outside of the negotiations. You are going to have to identify something that they like to do and then you are going to have to do it with them.

By doing this, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in the small talk that friends have with each other. You’ll both share small details of your lives and what you want to achieve. No, this probably won’t have anything to do with the negotiations that you are going to be engaged in, but it will help both of you to better understand where you are coming from.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

As negotiators, our goal is to get the best deal as quickly as possible from our next principled negotiation. In order to make this happen, we need to build a sense of rapport with the other side so that we can more easily work with them and we can both quickly make progress towards a deal that we can live with.

Rapport is something that is built on a foundation of trust that we already have with the other side. Having rapport with the other side means that we actually like them, they are our friends. To make this happen we need to invest time in building this type of relationship outside of the negotiations.

I suspect that like most negotiators, there are not enough hours in the day for you to get everything that you have to get done, done. Working on developing rapport with the other side might just seem like too much work. However, it can pay off with such great benefits that the extra time and effort that it requires is well worth the effort. Give it a try and you just might be surprised.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: How do you think you can tell when you have achieve rapport with the other side?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Have you ever suspected that there was some secret negotiation styles or negotiating techniques to negotiating that the really good negotiators knew that you didn’t? Well, I’m not going to guarantee that they knew the one secret that you have to know if you want to be a success at negotiating; however, I am willing to share it with you and thereby make you a much better negotiator…

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