For any progress to happen in a training exercise, there has to be some level of rapport between the audience and the trainer. Rapport in this sense refers to the harmonious understanding that needs to exist between individuals or groups before they can cooperate.
In many instances, rapport happens naturally. Many people have friends that they didn't consciously make. In fact, very few people actually go out of their way to make friends. Instead, we just happen to make them organically. However, this doesn't mean we can't build rapport consciously.
Rapport building is an initial phase in the larger project of developing mutually rewarding relationships with trainees or a new audience. Human relationship researchers conceptualize the process of deepening relationships as including awareness, exploration, expansion, and commitment; notably, awareness occurs before the actual interaction.
Interaction begins in the exploration phase, but the relationship is fragile because there is no investment or interdependence. Attraction, communication, use of power, norm development, and expectation development characterize this phase. The rapport developed at this phase helps set the stage for the latter stages of expansion and commitment, where interdependence increases, ultimately leading to a committed relationship where there is an implicit pledge to maintain the relationship.
Why Does Rapport Matter?
If we intend to lead fulfilling personal and professional lives, we must accept that rapport is extremely important.
For example, employers are a lot more likely to employ people who they believe will get along well with their workforce. No one wants to hire a disruptive element (despite many companies saying they are in favor of "disruptive growth.").
When we meet new people and try to become friends with them, we, first of all, try to build a rapport. Like it or not, that's why small talk exists. It's like a way of getting to know people and seeing whether one can have a productive relationship with them. We try to find whether people like what we like because we love to be with people who are similar to us.
However, there are situations in which we also find ourselves in the same work environment with people that are difficult to rapport with. In circumstances like this working together can be difficult and stressful for both parties since they lack a common frame of reference and are unable to come to an understanding about acceptable behavior. In situations like this, both parties will have to work extra hard to not only establish a rapport but also build a sustainable learning environment.
Different Forms of Rapport
The main goal of training other people is to help them become individuals that exhibit the knowledge gained. As a trainer gains more experience in inculcating knowledge and values into staff or audience, he/she will get to discover the different forms of rapports/conversations that occur in their daily interaction with students. Some of the different ones we have are listed below;
- Rapports That Involve Learning - These help the receivers at the audience to grow in their knowledge and understanding of a particular topic.
- Engaging Conversations - These allow you to invite your audience to take steps of action and increase their level of expertise in skills learned.
- Vision Nurturing Conversations - These are intended to inspire and motivate your students or audience by emphasizing the benefits and importance of the new knowledge gained and how positively it can influence different areas of their lives. In these conversations, trainers can choose to divert into personal experiences or vision (for your campus, for your life, for the world, etc.).
- Activities - These conversations are designed to help the trainees grow in skills and expertise by practicing frequently. It is best to limit the discussion time at the start of these conversations so that you have time to do the activity and debrief afterward.
Tips for Making Good Conversations with Trainees As A Trainer
Know where to start - For every conversation made between a trainer and trainee, the trainer should always note the level of expertise of the trainee on the receiving end of the conversation. Definitely, everyone in a class or audience is not always on the same level of expertise or understanding of a particular topic.
Be Well Prepared - Before meeting with your audience, read the content of the conversation and familiarize yourself with the topic. Think about how you want to conduct the conversation, and also your responses to the questions.
Listening Well - It is easy for a trainer to have their thoughts fixed on the next part of the conversation, without listening to what their trainee is saying. Be present, listen well, and give appropriate answers to questions asked by trainees.
Be intentional - Take the initiative to guide and lead the conversation. Always take purposeful steps towards building a rapport with your audience, as this determines to a large extent how effective your training turns out.
Remember that Rapports or Conversations Have The Following Attributes:
Two-sided contribution-A typical conversation involves two individuals or parties. Both parties have to voice out their different points of view about the topic of discussion. If there’s a need for a frank discussion between the trainer and audience, now is not the time to divert to non-important topics; rather, seek to have a dynamic, frank, and captivating conversation on the subject. Avoid the temptation to dominate the discussion.
Will prompt other questions - Do not be concerned if certain conversations prompt further questions from your audience. Encourage questions and remember that you don't have to know all the answers. The training is not a failure if one of your trainees leaves before the end of the training. Growth takes time.
Will take tangents - Sometimes, it helps to digress, so don't avoid tangents, but be prepared to bring the conversation back to the topic.
In conclusion, always try to form a very good rapport with your trainee and audience as much as possible as a trainer. A very good rapport aids a very good communication relationship between the two parties, and this can only function for the progress of the learning session.