Framework: How to Build Rapport

Nothing gets done without relationships.  Building rapport with other people is one of the best things you can do to develop a relationship especially in the early stages of meeting someone.  Below is a simple framework for structuring your conversations.  It’s based on this article .

  • Order an answer (ie: “So, tell me…”)
  • Repeat it back – Confirm that you heard them and that what they have to say is important
  • Question – Focus the interest on them with an open ended specific question.
  • Follow On – Keep the conversation going.  Use verbing to avoid getting stuck.  (ie – Identify a verb in what they just said to you and build a question around it)
  • Feelings – Bring in the feelings, “How did that feel?”

Here is another useful reference for building rapport with anyone you work with and Joe Polish’s Magic Rapport Formula.

Framework: Small Talk

I found this article on to be particularly useful.  The below framework is a great takeaway of us introverts.

Start a Conversation (ARE)

Anchor. Notice and observe a thread of connection and comment on it.

Reveal. Mention something about yourself that builds on your original statement.

Encourage. Finally, tee up a question that relates to the topic to push the conversation forward!

Continue the Conversation (FORM)

Family. Ask about their family and then tell them about yours. Ex. Do you have a big family? Did you grow up in the area?

Occupation. Ask them about their job and their livelihood. Talk about how your jobs compare or differ. How do you spend your time during the week? What’s your favorite part about doing X or working at Y company?

Recreation. Ask what they like to do on the weekends. Sports, hobbies, volunteer work, anything. If you find something in common, jump on it! Do you enjoy Hiking/running? Do you find it hard to find time for it?

Motivation. Ask them what their passions. This is a powerful way to find out what they value. What do you absolutely love doing, both at work and outside of it?

Template: Communicating for a Change

Plan Your Communication


What does the audience need to know?

What’s the goal?

What’s the win?

What’s the point you are trying to make?

What’s the one thing I want my audience to know?

What is the question I am answering?


Why does the audience need to know about it?

What is the tension that this communication will resolve?

What can I do to make my audience feel the tension?

What mystery does this communication solve?


What do I want them to do about it?

What can I do to get the audience to know the answer to my question?


Why do they need to do it?

What can I do to make my audience want a solution?


How can I help them remember it?

Structure the Communication

Orient the communication

Identify with the audience

Illuminate the message

Provide an application

Inspire them to move forward


Template: OKR Planning Tool

OKR’s or objectives and key results is a method for defining and tracking goals and desired outcomes.  Much has been written about OKR’s and it has been made popular recently by its use at Google and other technology companies.  Ultimately objectives are traceable throughout an organization and tie back to the company mission and vision.

I’ve created an OKR template to use for personal goals and within the context of my team at work.  The template was inspired by Christina Wodtke over at Eleganthack.

Formula: Key Result

[To] [Action Verb] [Desired Result] [Measurement or Event] [Performance Standard]  by [Timeframe]

For example, To Increase Customer Satisfaction [Outcome] Score [Measurement] to 90% [Performance Standard] by the end of this year [Timeframe].