In an ongoing movement that has resistance and non-compliance as two of its most basic facets, often the skill of rapport-building falls by the wayside. Far too many see rapport-building as “sucking up” or “compromising,” when in reality it’s an incredibly necessary skill for the overall mission—both long-term for the greater cause and short-term for whatever situation you’re currently in or working on. Rapport is a necessary social currency. Those who choose not to carry it or earn it end up finding out that they are dead broke in other areas—like information, supplies, or even trustworthy personnel—when it matters most.
Retired Special Forces soldier Loren Schofield wrote in Forward Observer Magazine last month that rapport is crucial, not just for operators working with local forces but for you, today, in your everyday life and your work within the movement.
The difference between building rapport and “just being a nice guy” is the motivation behind it. Often, those two will intersect nicely; other times, they will clash. When someone goes out with the intention of building rapport, there’s usually a reason behind it. The reasons run the gamut from “I want them to follow me into a house where bad guys are,” to “When I leave, I want them to have good thoughts when they think about America.” You may need them to protect your life, or you may be asking them to risk theirs.
Just because this sounds very calculated, manipulative and selfish, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. It usually is like that because it has to be. Just because it’s calculated doesn’t mean it’s not real or honest. There are many reasons someone chooses to help you, but when push comes to shove, and the shady shit starts to happen, the only reason they will help you is because they personally like you.
Does this mean that we as patriots become fake, ‘working’ people in order to build that rapport? Absolutely not. As Schofield writes, calculated does not mean dishonest. We can always find something to be honest about when building rapport. It also, however, means we must be conscious of (and sometimes curb or refine) our conduct—something that far too many are truly unwilling to do.
In this age of social media, we can build or destroy rapport without even knowing we are doing it. The things we post present a picture of who we are—or at least, who we are perceived as. Often we get tied up in debates on Facebook or Twitter, tossing around creative insults and condescending dismissals, and think we are really owning someone, completely oblivious to how we’re coming across to others viewing the debacle—others whose skills or network or help we may need later. This is why principled conduct is so important…and why gut checks are so often needed before acting or speaking.
Influence is the flip side of that coin. It’s the by-product of rapport. To be fair, it can also be cultivated simultaneously with rapport (as in a clever marketing campaign), or even in its absence (with the use of psychological principles that are universal to the human experience). The best way to influence those around you in a positive way, however, is to build rapport and relationships.
This brings us to some logical questions for discussion:
How can we foster rapport in our groups and communities?
How can we turn that rapport into influence?
In the next article of this series, we’ll talk about the principles behind influence and why they’re universal.
What are your thoughts? What methods have you used in your own groups and dealings to foster rapport?