What do I do to build rapport?


What do you do if you need to build rapport with somebody? Rapport building is important for any interview at all, but it becomes particularly important when the nature of the investigation is really sensitive or the person is really nervous, the stakes for them are super high. I try to make a professional jest during the admonishments of my interview, just to let people know that I'm human and I'm real, and I'm not just a robot reading off admonishments. But part of that getting people to chuckle is what deescalates them enough to be able to accept rapport building attempts by me.

So I might say something about myself and jest. If it's a safe person, I might share pieces of myself with that person, "Oh, I think we went to the same college. Or yes, I also have a son. Oh, I am also a person who lives in a hot climate like you. Or this is a way that my climate is different than your climate, and this is something funny about it." I personally use humor to do that. One of my co-investigators doesn't use humor to do it. She talks a lot about things that are normal and natural for her. And by the time you're doing investigative work, you're an adult, you've been rapport building with people all your life and you know how to do it. You just have to find  your way in building that rapport when the person across from you is stressed.

And the nature of investigations just means you're going into an interview where you need to be intentionally using the tricks that you probably unintentionally learned over the course of your life, so that you can create rapport building in a very short period of time, get people comfortable, get the information you need, and end the interview within a reasonable billable hour. And so those are a couple of the tips I use. Like I said, I use humor. I always have to keep it clean and professional, of course. But everybody has their own rapport building trick, and you probably just need to be super intentional about it, so that you can deploy it super fast in a witness interview environment.

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