A quirky tip for ensuring you build rapport with people

Why is rapport important?

Many of us want people to like and trust us. If this important to you, you probably do what you can to be likeable and to be there for people. It might even be natural for you to build rapport with people quite easily (even when you don’t know them). When you are in rapport with another person, they feel a strong emotional connection with you, they sense you care about them. And once people sense you care about them, they are more likely to trust you and be persuaded by you. Rapport builds the foundations of a trust-based relationship. As Anthony Robbins the motivational speaker and coach wisely says, “Rapport is the ultimate tool for producing results with other people. No matter what you want in your life, if you can develop rapport with the right people, you’ll be able to fill their needs, and they will be able to fill yours.” When it comes to persuasion, your ability to build rapport with anyone and everyone is an essential capability.

Michelle says, “When it comes to persuasion, your ability to build rapport with anyone and everyone is an essential capability.”

There are plenty of things you can do to build rapport. This article will introduce you to a quirky approach to rapport. It’s all about making people feel good.

Make people feel good

It’s such a wonderful skill to go through life making other people feel good. People will do almost anything for someone who makes them feel good. 

Case Study

Gus Arianto is the CEO for one of my favourite clients. When I talk about Gus with my friends and family, I refer to him as the “Indonesian Richard Branson”.  If you know anything about Richard Branson the entrepreneur, you’ll know that he is excellent at making his staff feel good. In fact, Richard makes people feel so good that they will outperform simply to make him happy. And Gus is the same, just with an Indonesian accent!  Gus is a great guy. If you met him, you’d like him instantly. I recall hearing about a time when one of Gus’ factories had to move to two shifts to avoid contamination during the Covid-19 lockdown. It meant that one of the shifts had to begin at 9pm and operate until 1.30am in the morning. Gus said to himself, “Oh no, I can’t do that to my staff!” When they put the option to the team, they all unanimously agreed that they would do it for Gus. People will put themselves out for someone who makes them feel good. Gus makes a point of intermittently calling the shift workers at the start of their late shift. Yes, the CEO personally calls the factory workers at 9pm when he’d normally be spending his leisure time! As you might imagine, they are often very surprised to hear from him and say, “Mr Gus why are you calling us this late, you should be resting.” He replies, “Why should I be resting when you are working hard for our business? It is my pleasure to thank you for working today and to let you know how important you are to me.” Imagine how good you’d feel if that was you receiving that call from your CEO when you are a factory employee. Being in the company of Gus gives you a boost. Making people feel good gives both you and them a wonderful boost that would be hard to get any other way!

How can you make people feel good?

A simple, easy way to make people feel good is to offer praise to them.


We all know that sincere praise makes us feel good. When someone gives us a genuine compliment, we feel pride in our performance or actions, pleasure at being noticed, and our self-esteem improves. Positive feedback causes dopamine to be released in our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centres of our brain. And praise causes a two-way benefit. When you praise someone, you feel good too. And you don’t only feel good, you may also be on the receiving end of a return compliment! It’s called the law of reciprocity. The law of reciprocity is one of the basic laws of social psychology. It states that we pay back what we receive from others. In other words, when you praise the other person, they are often more willing to return that generosity by recognising your efforts and maybe even helping you out or sharing helpful information. This is a wonderful basis for a positive long-term persuasive relationship.

“There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.”
― Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

It’s important to note that a lot of research has been conducted on the role of praise in the workforce and we now know that even when it’s genuine, the effects of praise don’t last. In fact, Gallup’s research from 2004 reports that employees who feel they are not amply recognised at work are three times more likely to leave their job within the following 12 months. So yes, you do need to keep the praise coming. Mary Kay Ask the Founder of Mary Kay Costmetics famously said, “There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.”

There are a few quick tips for giving sincere praise:


i.   Catch people doing things right. We reward the behaviour that we want to see repeated. It’s a much more effective strategy to reward the positive than punish the negative. For example, “Mary I noticed that you followed that new procedure perfectly today. Thanks so much for your efforts with this change of process.”


ii.   Notice the quiet achievers, the unsung heroes. These are the people who often fly under the radar and are rarely complimented for their efforts. In exit interviews these people often recount how they felt undervalued and ignored.  Here’s an example of how you might give feedback to an unsung hero, “Ben I realise that we don’t say this often enough. You are so wonderful in the way you manage customer complaints. It’s important that you know I regularly notice your efforts and commitment to our service standards. Thank you!” 


iii.   Praise people publicly. Let everyone know that this person has excelled in some way. Make it everyone’s business. Public praise causes a culture of recognition and achievement. For example, you could put a note in the company monthly ezine or email everyone in the team with a message that says, “Three cheers for Georgia who won us the Google account this week. Georgia is responsible for bringing in over $50,000 of work over the next 3 months. Snaps!”Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Case Study

I have 3 children and often friends and partners join us for our evening meal. A regular feature of our family meals is that we go around the table and I ask everyone to talk about something they did that day that made them feel proud. Just like Heather Small’s song, ‘Proud’ that was popularised in the London 2012 Olympic bid, “what have you done today to make you feel proud?” We have a rule that it can be a little thing like, “I did well in my exam at university” or, “I cleaned out the fridge for the family today” through to a bigger achievement such as, “I helped my friend transition to university in America”. Once explained we all give the person a clap and a ‘snaps’ (click of the fingers) and we smile and compliment them and we sit in the positive moment with them. It’s a great way to find out what’s happening in their lives. It’s a way for my husband and I to share what we are doing as the adults in the family. And ultimately it gives us all the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate the family member for their achievement. It also causes my kids to be hyper aware of their daily actions and they find themselves unconsciously evaluating whether their actions are for the good of others or not. I am sure they feel recognised for these positive acts in their lives.

So, let me ask you, what did you do today that made you feel proud? What can you do to make the people around you feel good? And importantly, who can you praise today?

Happy presenting!


© Michelle Bowden 2021.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-Creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.


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