Is it fake to build rapport?

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Many believe that building rapport (that is – adjusting your behavior to the person you talk to) makes you less authentic because you compromise the real “you”.

I was also sure this was the case a few years ago. This belief kept me from improving my rapport building skills which in turn hampered my social life.

For example, I often used to think that “Being energetic in social settings is just who I am” and I sometimes annoyed people because I didn’t adapt to the setting. When I finally realized that I could also be a chill person without compromising who I was, my social interactions became much more rewarding.

In other words, there’s a lot at stake here.

In fact, the title of this article is a trick question. You don’t have to choose between building rapport and being authentic: Building rapport the right way will enable you to be MORE authentic.

Here’s why:

Article continues below.

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We change our behavior all the time. When we wake up, we’re slow and sleepy and 45 minutes after the morning coffee we’re energetic and witty.

Our behavior is also affected by those we meet. You speak in a different way to your grandma then you do with your friends. That’s not fake. It’s a beautiful ability to be able to tune into different situations throughout life.

Why does rapport building work?

If someone talks softly, you’ll be able to connect better with that person if you speak softly too.

We humans like those we can relate to. When you build rapport with someone, that person can relate to you more.

behavior fake or not

If someone’s feeling uncomfortable speaking loudly or using a type of language they aren’t comfortable with, that can come off as incongruent. That person should ask themselves: Do I WANT to be a person who can speak like this? If yes, they should practice that in relevant situations, and over time, that ability will feel congruent.

On the other hand, if they feel that it’s against their values and that it turns them into a person they don’t want to be, they should find other ways to build rapport instead.

Naturally, rapport also isn’t about mirroring people in an obvious way. It’s about creating a moment where you’re in sync and not about repeating the other person’s’ moves.

Those bad at building rapport end up compromising who they are

We’ve all seen how people who are socially inept try to get accepted into the group by compromising their value-system.

They change opinions depending on which group they’re in. They do things they don’t believe in.

This makes them come off as fake.

Those good at building rapport can be more authentic

Those who are good at adjusting their behavior to the situation and to the person they meet, have an easier time connecting with anyone. This has two effects:

  1. As they’re better at connecting with people and have a wider social circle to choose from, they’re LESS likely to end up in a situation where they feel an urge to compromise their value-system. In other words – if you’re good at building rapport, people will feel a connection to you even if your value-systems aren’t the same.
  2. They’re able to connect with a wider variety of people (not just those who happen to behave very closely to how they behave). The ability to build rapport enables people from different walks of life to bond in a way they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

What friends do you have who feel authentic? Anyone that feels inauthentic? What do they do differently? I’m excited to hear in the comments!

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (3)

3 thoughts on “Is it fake to build rapport?”

  1. I myself brought out my fake self at times and compromised my values to be accepted by groups. This incited a conflict within me and I felt like a dual personality. It also cost me a few of the authentic friends I made and bonded with since they eventually came to see my doublefacedness. Never again, I swear, will i change my values and opinions just to be accepted by people and get their approval. It’s better to lose people who cannot be comfortable with your different opinion rather than loosing urself by loosing ur values.

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  2. I think I understand clearly what you mean.

    That’s why it’s called social SKILLS. Part of social skills is adjusting to different situations and people, yet still being oneself. Just like if you were to make a speech to children, it were have a different ring to it than if you spoke to grownups.

    However, it’s important not to make assumptions about other people based on superficial appearances and start acting similarly to what one might assume they’re like based on, say, their ethnicity. Also, even when talking to children, it’s important to speak their “language” but not talk down to them.

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