How to achieve great rapport for your hospitality business

Yesterday, we looked at why rapport is important. Today we’ll discuss how to get into rapport with your customers be they a hotel guest or restaurant diners or anyone else you deal with to a run a successful hospitality business.

Think of people with whom you already have great rapport.  What is it you do, how do you communicate and what do you talk about?  All these factors can give us a clue to the key aspects of building rapport.  But what can you do in business if it doesn’t occur naturally?

Firstly show your interest. It’s more important to be interested than trying to be interesting! Show that you’ve been listening by using their name and asking appropriate questions. Sincerely. Most people spend 95% of their time thinking about themselves. They love it when you show genuine interest in what they’re doing. Use this as an opportunity to find common ground from the beginning of the conversation. Generally, people like people who are like themselves.

Smile and make eye contact. And hold it for longer (without the mad staring eye routine). Make your body language open. Uncross your arms, avoid covering your heart and turn to face the person you are talking to. This encourages openness and trust.

Listen for verbal thinking preference clues. Is the person you are talking to Visual (I see what you’re saying…), Aural (I hear you), Kinaesthetic (How do you feel about?)…

Step into the other person’s shoes and try imaging life from their viewpoint. Not a single person on the planet has exactly the same perspective on life, yet we often imagine other people see things exactly the way we do.

We need to pay conscious attention to matching or mirroring (not mimicking) those elements that are part of natural rapport.

There is often quoted research that suggests that as much as 55% of the message we convey comes from a person’s appearance and physiology. That a person’s tone, volume, pitch, emphasis accounts for a further 38%. And that only 7% of our communication comes from the words that we use – for example the use of common expressions, terminology, etc. Although this research was applicable to a slightly different context, there’s no denying that body language and non-verbal communications is by far the most powerful.

So how do we make use of these factors?  Well, the closer we can match these (not mimic) to the other person the more likely we are to build rapport.

Tomorrow we’ll take each in turn.

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