Rapport is one of those obscure words you would likely have to look up in a dictionary, and if you don't, then you are one step ahead of the game, at least regarding the understanding of this basic idea. And I say that you are ahead of the game if you know the meaning of the word rapport because the spoken language we use is vital to the context and the outcome of our daily conversations.
Now, I want to state before I proceed, that it is true that language is more than our vernacular or the words we use; it is a suite of behaviours through which we communicate our minds to the world around us. Our language is a group of tools that include the tonality and physical movements through which we attempt to transfer our thoughts and emotions to those with whom we have our daily conversations. However, I also want to assert that our language being an amalgamation of behavioural devices does not diminish the value of the words we use. The truth is that the more flexible our vocabulary is, the better we can use it to represent ourselves to others.
With that said, let us look at five nonverbal techniques you can use to establish a good connection with other people. The dictionary defines rapport as a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. In essence, this concept is an excellent example of good influence and leadership.
It is important to note that these techniques require subtlety of execution; overdoing any of them may have adverse effects, opposite to what they intend to accomplish. Also, these gestures are more useful in clusters; any of them alone will show incongruent behaviour and confuse your interlocutors.
1: Position, position, position.
How you stand, or your posture can indicate good self-confidence and physical health, and precisely the opposite if it's wrong.
Remember to assume an open stance when facing a potential new friend - straight shoulders and relaxed arms with the palms of the hands (slightly) towards the person you intend to meet will signal trust, acceptance and a subtle desire to interact with them. Ensure that your feet are pointing in the direction of your conversation partner, lest they perceive you as wanting to walk away from them.
Proper posture is likely the best way to signal confidence and willingness to be wherever you are.
2: It's in the eyes.
Study someone's eyes when you meet them for the first time, it will ensure adequate eye contact, making you seem interested in the person you are meeting. People enjoy the attention given to them by most people, and a quick scan of their eyes will indicate your investment in the experience of getting to know them - it will make them feel special - even if for a few seconds.
3: Proper handshake.
It sometimes feels, whenever I speak about the topic of handshakes and first impressions, that most people should understand why this is important to rapport; unfortunately, it is too often a point of failure in establishing good connections.
I can write a four-hundred-page book on the social consequences of the handshake, and I will mention here that you can communicate a plethora of emotions and conditions when shaking hands with another person. You can show your new friend power and control, but worse, insecurity, and weakness or even sadness by holding their hand for only a few seconds. Know that a confident handshake is an indication of authority, but one that is too strong may show low self-esteem.
Ensure that your hand exerts enough pressure for enough time to make theirs feel comfortable and not want to pull away. Most successful business people admit that one or two sharp shakes are optimal to a good first impression, and any more than that my come across as creepy. And, as I said before, this is a topic for much longer work.
4: Say yes, because it is good.
Offer an approving head nod when you meet someone for the first time, especially as you shake their hand, this will project enjoyment of the interaction - it will signal to the other person that you are happy to meet them.
5: Smiles sell.
I also wish that this went without saying, but the power of a good smile is lost on many, most especially on young men, who tend to believe that a serious, angry face is attractive all the time, it isn't.
A real enjoyment smile can change minds; this is why advertisers use it often to sell us products we don't need. Notice how you feel when you look at a photo of a smiling face - pay attention to the eyes and how the muscles around them are engaged in the gesture. More importantly, realise how your face feels when you are fully involved in enjoying an experience that makes you want to smile and if you can project that the person you are meeting, you will have started to establish rapport with them.
As I said in my second paragraph, language is a suite of tools, and nonverbal communication is important; likely the largest part of all language, but it is made more accessible by the words with which we match it or mark it. The correct phrase delivered in the right tone will enhance the effect of the techniques I have shared here.