It’s all about rapport

Barry White Jr. is a 5th grade teacher from Charlotte N.C. in the States whose video on YouTube, doing personalised hand shakes with all his class is a great pick-me-up distraction AND inspiration (take a look below). Now he is obviously far too cool for school, (or not as the case may be), BUT for me this video demonstrates a hugely important interactive process at play: it shows rapport being created. Click below to take a look…

Rapport is one of THE most influential factors that determine how authentic or productive an interaction is going to be. Without authenticity we’re often just making it up, holding back or lying…no good to anyone.

Get rapport right and you’re off to a flying start BUT get it wrong and you’re never going to have an experience that really generates great interaction or insight. It can easily be derided as unnecessary or inconsequential by some, but if you know how to create rapport whether in a kids focus group or a senior client meeting you’re on to something very powerful. It can be overt or subtle; a word or a gesture; a smile, a laugh or a shared glance.

In psychology it’s referred to as confluence, the coming together of at least two people into one ‘stream’ of thought, dialogue or action. A stream in which they both know they’re heading in the same direction and they are both happy and energised by that. When there is confluence, people really start to hear and talk to each other with authenticity.

In research sessions we all have our own personal ways of creating connection but at OXY we believe in prioritising and planning for it, not hoping it just happens. We think about when, where and how to make those little moments of connection that will make all the difference. Think about how to maintain that connection throughout a session or when something comes along to disrupt it.

And everyone is individual: what works for an adult isn’t the same as a 7yr old; what works for a girl might not be the same for a boy; what works for a confident child won’t be the same for a quiet, shy one (and ditto for grown ups in meetings too).

So, in summary, I think Mr White has it right. It might not be my style and it may not suit a focus group or boardroom, but he connects and he creates rapport: his children enter his classroom feeling recognised, valued, connected, energised and ready to be part of something…active and engaged.