In order to effectively reach out and work with the team members, a facilitator has to learn the fundamental skill of building rapport. That is, the need to create and maintain empathy or a sense of connection with the members. Building rapport is not done the easy way; people have different ways of establishing it with other people. There are those who have the natural ability to easily create a good relationship with others.
Their is a need to understand the essence of the skill and learn it to come up with their own techniques. Have you ever encountered a facilitator who has a naturally empathetic ability and someone who is the other way around? Who between them creates an impact on the participants? Who gets the attention and interest of the members?
It is normal and a polite approach to develop and build rapport with another individual and this should be the same when dealing with a larger group. It may seem an easy thing to do when you have known the members for quite some time now. But it can be challenging when the group consists of entirely new faces. Many facilitators excel in their roles because they understand the value of building rapport.
Trust and Empathy
Building rapport with the group involves trust and empathy. All types of successful relationships are built on trust. This makes it a strong and basic foundation for any relationship whether personal or social relationships. A facilitator has to win the trust of the group members in order to easily deal with them. Trust is that feeling of reliance and belief in each other when fairness is manifested between individuals or even in a group.
Empathy is the ability to “put oneself in another person’s shoes.” This means being able to understand another person’s emotions from within your frame of reference in a subjective approach. To empathize is to let the other person or other persons feel that you know what they are going through and you can relate to it. A facilitator who has the natural ability to empathize sees the issues through the eyes of the members, uses the same words as they do, and takes action to straighten out some glitches.
How to Build Rapport with the Group
As earlier mentioned, good rapport is easily established when the members are either familiar to you or have known you for quite some time already. But in some cases, you may be asked to facilitate a group of totally new faces. In establishing rapport or connection with the group, you must know how to share experiences, build trust, and match their body language and voice.
One way to share experiences with the team is to find something in common between you and them. This may be aiming to achieve the same goals, having similar interests, and having shared values or outlook in life. This way, it is a lot easier to reach out to them because there are more commonalities rather than differences in each other.
Another way to build rapport is to match your member’s behavioral styles and this would mean modifying your body language and voice to suit theirs. For example, when talking to a member who has a rather soft and meek voice, try not to respond in a perky and animated voice as this may scare off the person. Show that you understand the person’s style of communicating by trying to match it. So, empathy is not just about understanding the feeling but also the behavior, the communication style and even people’s expectations.
Key Outcomes of Rapport-Building
What happens when rapport is completely established by you as the facilitator? Cooperation from the team is one positive outcome of that connection. A good social relationship is built between you and the group. The members show you their respect as their facilitator.
As a leader, influencing them will be easier on your part. And remember, people tend to like other people who are like themselves or who are a reflection of themselves. So, knowing how to build good rapport as a facilitator will make your role less stressful and even create a smoother flow of the process. From that, achieving the objectives together is not a difficult thing to do.