Rapport (ra-PORE) is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned are "in sync" with each other, understand each other's feelings or ideas, and communicate smoothly.

The word stems from the French verb rapporter which means literally to carry something back;[1][2] and, in the sense of how people relate to each other means that what one person sends out the other sends back. For example, they may realize that they share similar values, beliefs, knowledge, or behaviors around politics, music or sports.[3] This may also mean that the participants engage in reciprocal behaviors such as posture mirroring or in increased coordination in their verbal and nonverbal interactions.[4]

There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as: matching your body language (i.e., posture, gesture, etc.);[4] indicating attentiveness through maintaining eye contact;[5] and matching tempo, terminology and breathing rhythm.[citation needed] In conversation, some verbal behaviors associated with increased rapport are the use of positivity (or, positive "face management"), sharing personal information of gradually increasing intimacy (or, "self-disclosure"), and by referring to shared interests or experiences.[5]

Rapport has been shown to have benefits for psychotherapy and medicine,[6] negotiation,[7] education,[8] and tourism,[9] among others. In each of these cases, the rapport between members of a dyad (e.g. a teacher and student or doctor and patient) allows the participants to coordinate their actions and establish a mutually beneficial working relationship, or what is often called a "working alliance".[6] In guided group activities (e.g., a cooking class, a wine tour and hiking group), rapport is not only dyadic and customer-employee oriented, but also customer-customer and group-oriented as customers consume and interact with each other in a group for an extended period.[9]


To achieve the benefits of interpersonal rapport in domains like education, medicine, or even sales, several methods have been shown to build rapport between people. These methods include coordination, showing your attentiveness to the other, building commonality, and managing the other's self-perception (also called "face" management).[5]



Coordination, also called "mirroring"[4] means getting into rhythm with another person, or coordinating one's verbal or nonverbal behaviors.[10]

  • Emotional mirroring – Empathizing with someone's emotional state by being on 'their side'. You must apply the skill of being a good listener in this situation so as you can listen for key words and problems that arise when speaking with the person. This is so you can talk about these issues and question them to better your understanding of what they are saying and show your empathy towards them (Arnold, E and Boggs, josh. 2007).
  • Posture mirroring – Matching the tone of a person's body language not through direct imitation, as this can appear as mockery, but through mirroring the general message of their posture and energy.
  • Tone and tempo mirroring – Matching the tone, tempo, inflection, and volume of a person's voice.

Mutual attentivenessEdit

Another way of building rapport is by each partner indicating their attentiveness to the other.[4] This attentiveness may take the form of nonverbal attentiveness, such as looking at the other person,[5] nodding at appropriate moments, or physical proximity, as seen in work on teachers' "immediacy" behaviors in the classroom.[8] This attentiveness might also be demonstrated through reciprocation of nonverbal behaviors like smiling or nodding, similar to the coordination[4] or in the reciprocal sharing of personal details about the other person that signal one's knowledge and attentiveness to their needs.[5]


Commonality is the technique of deliberately finding something in common with a person or a customer in order to build a sense of camaraderie and trust. This is done through references to shared interests, dislikes, and experiences.[11] By sharing personal details or self-disclosing personal preferences or information, interlocutors can build commonality, and thus increase rapport.[5]

Face managementEdit

Another way of building rapport is through what is often referred to as "positive face management",[12] but may also simply be called positivity. According to some psychologists,[12] we have a need to be seen in a positive light, known as our "face". By managing each other's "face", boosting it when necessary, or reducing negative impacts to it, we are able to build rapport with others.[12]


There have been a number of proposed benefits from building interpersonal rapport, which all revolve around smoother interactions, improved collaboration, and improved interpersonal outcomes,[6][7][8] though the specifics differ by the domain.

In the health domain, provider-patient rapport is often called the "Therapeutic Alliance" or "Therapeutic Relationship", and is a measure of the collaboration quality between provider and patient, often used as a predictor of therapy outcomes or patients' treatment adherence.[6][13]

In education, teacher-student rapport is predictive of students' participation in the course, their course retention, likelihood to take a course in that domain again, and has sometimes been used to predict course outcomes.[8] Some have argued that teacher-student rapport is an essential element of what makes an effective teacher, or the ability to manage interpersonal relationships and build a positive, pro-social, atmosphere of trust and reduced anxiety.[14] Student-student rapport, on the other hand, while largely out of the teacher's ability to control, is also predictive of reduced anxiety in the course, feelings of a supportive class culture, and improved participation in class discussions.[8]

In negotiation, rapport is beneficial for reaching mutually beneficial outcomes,[7] as partners are more likely to trust each other and be willing to cooperate and reach a positive outcome. However, others have found that interpersonal rapport in negotiation can lead to unethical behavior, particularly in impasse situations, where the interpersonal rapport may influence the negotiators to behave unethically.[15]


To better study how rapport can lead to the above benefits, researchers generally adopt one of three main approaches: self-report surveys given to the participants,[8] third-party observations from a naive observer,[4] and some form of automated computational detection, using computer vision and machine learning.[5]

Self-report surveys typically consist of a set of questions given at the end of the interaction, asking the participants to reflect on their relationship with another person and rate various aspects of that relationship, typically on a Likert scale.[7][8] Though this is the most common approach, it suffers from unreliability of self-report data, such as the issue of separating participants' reflection on a single interaction with their relationship with the other person more broadly.[14]

To address these issues, others have used a third-party observer to give a rating of the rapport to a particular segment of the interaction, often called a "slice".[4][5] Other recent work uses techniques from computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to computationally detect the level of rapport between members of a dyad.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Manser, Martin; Turton, Nigel (1998). Advanced Learners Dictionary. Wordsworth Editions. p. 574. ISBN 978-1-85326-763-5.
  2. ^ "Rapport – Definition". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 22 Mar 2011.
  3. ^ Neil H. Katz; Marcia Koppelman Sweedler; John W. Lawyer (6 December 2010). Communication & Conflict Resolution Skills (PDF). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7575-7875-5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Tickle-Degnen, Linda; Rosenthal, Robert (1990). "The Nature of Rapport and Its Nonverbal Correlates" (PDF). Psychological Inquiry. 1 (4): 285–293. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0104_1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Zhao, Ran; Papangelis, Alexandros; Cassell, Justine (2014). "Towards a Dyadic Computational Model of Rapport Management for Human-Virtual Agent Interaction" (PDF). In Bickmore, T.; Marsella, S.; Sidner, C. (eds.). Intelligent Virtual Agents. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 8637. Springer. pp. 514–527. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-09767-1_62. ISBN 978-3-319-09767-1.
  6. ^ a b c d Falkenström, F; Hatcher, R; Skjulsvik, T; Larsson, M; Holmqvist, R (2014). "Development and Validation of a 6-item Working Alliance Psychotherapy" (PDF). Psychological Assessment. 27 (1): 169–83. doi:10.1037/pas0000038. PMID 25346997.
  7. ^ a b c d Drolet, Aimee; Morris, Michael (2000). "Rapport in Conflict Resolution: Accounting for How Face-to-Face Contact Fosters Mutual Cooperation in Mixed-Motive Conflict" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 36: 25–30. CiteSeerX doi:10.1006/jesp.1999.1395. S2CID 15998184. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-10-24.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Frisby, Brandi; Martin, Matthew (2010). "Instructor–Student and Student–Student Rapport in the Classroom". Communication Education. 59 (2): 146. doi:10.1080/03634520903564362. S2CID 144995267.
  9. ^ a b Lee, Linda W.; Boon, Edward; McCarthy, Ian P. (2021-12-01). "Does getting along matter? Tourist-tourist rapport in guided group activities". Tourism Management. 87: 104381. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2021.104381. ISSN 0261-5177.
  10. ^ Graham, Colly. "Building Rapport". Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  11. ^ DeGroot, Bob. "Establish trust and rapport". Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  12. ^ a b c Spencer-Oatey, Helen (2005). "(Im)Politeness, Face and Perceptions of Rapport: Unpackaging their Bases and Interrelationships". Politeness Research. 1 (1): 95–119. doi:10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.95. S2CID 144581286.
  13. ^ Leach, Matthew J. (2005-11-01). "Rapport: A key to treatment success". Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 11 (4): 262–265. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.05.005. ISSN 1744-3881. PMID 16290897.
  14. ^ a b Rogers, Daniel (2015). "Further Validation of the Learning Alliance Inventory: The Roles of Working Alliance, Rapport, and Immediacy in Student Learning". Teaching of Psychology. 42 (1): 19–25. doi:10.1177/0098628314562673. S2CID 145451184.
  15. ^ Jap, Sandy; Robertson, Diana; Hamilton, Ryan (2011). "The Dark Side of Rapport: Agent Misbehavior Face-to-Face and Online". Management Science. 57 (9): 1610–1622. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1110.1359. SSRN 1789782.

Further readingEdit