Two people looking at each other and talking

Have you ever wondered why people sometimes behave differently with various groups of friends or family, or in a variety of environments and circumstances? Personally, I know my interactions are not the same. As an example, the way I greet my extended family and work colleagues vary, and I also display different energies with them. Despite the distinctions, I feel confident that I am still being me while also creating a strong level of rapport with others.

That authenticity is essential to building positive, productive relationships whether in the workplace or outside of it, as is a willingness to honour the people around you. Yet, I have often heard that some individuals find this concept challenging. After all, if a person is making adjustments to their behaviour to support others, are they being genuine?

In my opinion, the answer is yes, they can be. This paradox begs the query: How can one build rapport without sacrificing authenticity?

What Is Rapport?

The definition of rapport, according to Lexico powered by Oxford, is:

A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.

In essence, establishing bonds is reliant upon cultivating harmony by appreciating different approaches and inputs. When many people think about the word harmony, they may perceive that the term means to gloss over differences. I invite you to use its meaning in music, where the combination of different notes produces a pleasing effect.

This outcome happens even (or perhaps especially) because the sounds are unique, and together, they generate beautiful music. That definition of harmony is very much in line with effective group dynamics, which come from raising varying insights to arrive at brilliant results.

In addition to considering what rapport is, it can be equally helpful to reflect on what is not stated in its definition. Specifically, you are not required to change your personality or yourself. As I shared in my blog regarding misconceptions about authenticity, when you alter who you are, you may diminish trust if people cannot get to know the real you.

Creating connection encourages individuals to promote understanding and communicate thoughtfully, which you can do by practicing empathy and appreciating the validity of other points of view. All of that is possible without ever being inauthentic.

How Can You Create Genuine Connection?

To develop rapport, I invite you to adopt five practices.

1) Heighten your self-awareness.

Before you can improve relationships with others, first reinforce your understanding of self. You can enhance self-awareness by utilising assessments like the Emergenetics® Profile as well as exploring the experiences that have influenced and impacted your life and perspectives. It is also important to consider how and in what circumstances you naturally flex.

Let’s consider the Emergenetics Profile. Everyone has a preference for more than one Attribute, and they work in concert. For example, I’m first-third Assertive and an Analytical thinker. If I hear inaccurate data, there is a greater chance that I will push back and make my opinions known even though I am likely to be a peacekeeper in other situations. While I do not always act the same, I am not being inauthentic because I’m suddenly more direct. I am simply navigating the spectrum of my genuine self. By having a more holistic awareness of who you are, you can understand how your preferences, experiences and identities work together and recognise how you may naturally adapt in different situations.

2) Embrace active listening with curiosity.

When you approach all conversations as an active listener who seeks clarity, you are demonstrating your commitment to learning about the thoughts and feelings of others. This behaviour is also useful for effective communication. Before you can accurately and appropriately give a response, it is vital to comprehend what your counterpart is saying and intending.

Grow your active listening skills by making a commitment to stay curious and avoid jumping to conclusions about what a person may be insinuating. Ask open-ended questions to clarify meaning. You may also re-state your colleague’s sentiments to ensure your own comprehension.

3) Use flexing to support perspective-taking.

Putting yourself in another person’s shoes, so to speak, can help you develop rapport by enabling you to reflect on an alternative point of view. With this insight, you can identify opportunities to reduce assumptions, communicate more effectively and address their needs.

There are many situational and personal factors that might influence a colleague’s perspectives, and tools like Emergenetics can serve as one starting point. Our framework empowers you to consider a situation through the interests of each Emergenetics Thinking and Behavioural Attribute. In doing so, you can amplify your grasp of colleagues’ perceptions and consider what additional information or actions could improve understanding.

4) Acknowledge differences without judgment.

It is important to note that you can embrace perspective-taking and still have different opinions. Remember: Flexing does not ask you to change who you are. It asks you to consider and value varying viewpoints. When you respectfully share your own point of view and explain areas of congruence or difference, it allows others to get a better sense of who you are.

The key is to exchange ideas with honesty and without passing judgment on different inputs. Taking this approach builds two-way relationships, allowing you to demonstrate your appreciation of the needs of your counterparts as well as sharing more insights into your own perceptions.

5) Respect your colleagues and your boundaries.

Lastly, I invite you to embrace seeking a balance between honouring others and yourself. Generally, when a person flexes to support their team members, they are not compromising themselves or their authenticity. As an example, if a person in the first-third of Expressiveness is trying to demonstrate care for their third-third Expressive counterpart, it is not disingenuous to speak up to share an opinion. However, in rare instances, you may find that a coworkers’ interests do not align with your sense of self.

As an example, perhaps a colleague believes the best way to connect is through regular happy hours after work, yet that practice feels scratchy to you because your family time is core to your identity. In these circumstances, consider how to honour your and others’ interests. Ask questions to learn what your coworker believes can be gained at happy hour (likely an opportunity to get to know people on a personal level). With that knowledge, brainstorm opportunities to bond that resonate with both of you, such as sharing a coffee at the start of the workday or making team building part of standing meetings.

Creating connections does not mean you must alter who you are or behave inauthentically. Instead, by remaining curious, consciously considering alternative viewpoints and respectfully sharing your honest inputs, you have all the building blocks you need for establishing productive relationships.

Interested in improving helping your employees communicate and collaborate with authenticity? Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with a team member today.

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