Two Words That Kill Rapport

Two words that kill rapport

The ability to build rapport is the hallmark of successful people everywhere. It plays a vital role in virtually every aspect of our lives.  Customer service, workplace relationships, negotiations, our personal lives, etc. It requires skill. Contrary to what some will tell you, the ability to build rapport isn’t just something you’re born with.

One of the most important skill sets to develop is how to use language. There are better and worse ways to say everything – and there are some things you just shouldn’t say at all. If you are looking to improve your ability to build rapport, here are two great examples of things to avoid:

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The “No” Reflex

Fred:  “Can I get 300 of these printed up for next Thursday?”
Printer:   “No, that usually takes at least a week.”
Fred:  “This is really important.  Can you check?”
Printer:  “Okay, give me a minute.  (a minute goes by) Okay, it looks like we can do it..”


Susan:  “I love doing aerobics.  It’s a great way to take my mind off of things and look after my health at the same time.”
Fred:  “No, Yoga is better”

There are some people who just instinctively respond “No” to everything. (see the post on the “NO Bar” on the MSC Preziosa).  The problem with saying “no,” of course, is that it instantly creates an argumentative position, which, in turn, instantly damages rapport.  You’re far better off with a non-argumentative approach, such as:

Fred:  “Can I get 300 of these printed up for next Thursday?”
Printer:  “I think so.  Let me check.”

Susan:  “I love doing aerobics.  It’s a great way to take my mind off of things and look after my health at the same time.”
Fred:  “I agree.  aerobics are great. Yoga is very good as well.”

Actually… You’re An Idiot

Susan:  “I think I’d like to try the Riesling (pronouncing it ‘Rise-ling.’)”
Fred: Actually, it’s ‘Reesling’

Susan:  “I really like this new ZIP-42 computer – it’s so fast!”
Fred:  “Actually, it’s not that good compared to the other new ones out there.”

The word “actually” at the beginning of a sentence is almost always a Very Bad Thing.  Inevitably, it is followed by you correcting someone.  You might as well just go ahead and say the word “idiot” afterward – because that’s what people will be hearing anyway.

“No” and “Actually” are rarely productive, and are almost always avoidable.  So, unless you are a committed contrarian who wants to alienate the people around you, make sure to avoid them!

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