By Nancy Friedman, Founder, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service, Customer Service Keynote Speaker

Rapport building is an art, not a science.

Some of you reading this will pass on this article. Why? Because you already know how to rapport build with someone – client, friend, relative, even a stranger.

But as good as you are, you may know someone who isn’t that great at rapport building. This is for them. So if you receive this blog from someone, take it as a compliment. Not an insult. Think of it as ‘closing the gap.’ By the way, these tips are for in-person and on the phone. Don’t limit yourself.

Number 1: “Hi, how are you?” is NOT an effective rapport building statement. In many cases it’s an annoyance. It’s social noise. For others, it’s an: “I don’t know what else to say.” For sure: It’s NOT a rapport building statement.

These are a bit more effective rapport building comments:

“Thank you for the call.” – “Great to see you.” – “You’re looking super.” – “Your voice sounds good, have you been in radio?”-  “You’re looking well.” – “So glad to see (or talk with) you.”

The list is endless. And notice none of them are: “Hi, how are you?”

But I digress. A rapport building statement is like “Hi, how are you?” but it’s far more effective. And that’s one of the secrets to rapport building. Being more effective. So, get to work on opening statements. Get “Hi, how are you?” out of the way. Bury it. Don’t use it as a rapport building statement.

Number 2: Since the art of rapport building isn’t taught in our schools today and more often left to self-teaching and self-learned, it’s just not taught…. other than, “Hey, you need to learn how to rapport build more.”

But how do you do that?

One way is to read, read and then read some more. There are dozens of good books on this topic.  How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything by Barbara Walters is a good one. You don’t need to like her to learn from her. Don’t be like that. Search out the best. OK, yes, the cover looks outdated . . . so does the Bible; however, it’s great information. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Pick up something and read and learn.

Number 3: Rapport building starts with you asking a few questions. Fun, interactive questions. (NOT: “Hi, how are you?”) Pick up on something the person says to you and build on that. That can get a conversation going further than you thought. Example:

When someone calls me and asks, “Hi, how are you?” I say, “GREAT, good to hear from you.” Or “I”m super, nice to meet you by phone.” “Thanks for taking the call” works well. As does, “I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to talk.”

Recently, a gentleman called & wanted some information on me for an event before he went on his vacation so he could work on it while he was away. He said just that.

What do you think my next question was???

I asked him where he was going on vacation. That was my first question to him. Neither of us mentioned, “Hi how are you.”

It opened up a floodgate of information; a two-way wonderful conversation and it warmed the call. We built more rapport than ever imagined. And no one said, “Hi, how are you?”

Important. There are some folks who may not want YOU to rapport build with them. And if you push your soft, fuzzy questions at them when they’re in a hurry it will hurt the situation. TIME TO LISTEN.

Listen to the tone of their voice, the speed of their voice and the cadence of it as well. Those all fall into play; but, then, ahhhhhh, now we’re back to our article on Listening Skills. And that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Good luck and share away.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.