At some point in your life, you’ve probably met a person who is book smart and people stupid. This person is a valuable company asset, but is kept out of meetings because he or she can’t communicate effectively and doesn’t seem to listen to the ideas of others. He or she is sincere, but knows nothing about etiquette and manners. He or she can be interesting to talk to but has no sense of humour. He or she is very intelligent, but lacks even the most basic social skills.

In general, this person makes everyone uneasy and standoffish. In particular this person doesn’t try to establish the rapport needed to create a lasting relationship, either in his or her personal or professional life. And unfortunately, it’s costing this person dearly.

Now is the time for this person to mend his or her ways. Like it or not we all have to deal with others to achieve any degree of success. This is true regardless of our position in life, and no matter what our objectives may be. The more successful we are in getting others to cooperate with us, and the more people we can call our allies, the greater our chances are of achieving success.

The dynamics of human relations are pretty simple: If you relate poorly to others, you will most likely have a problem-filled life, and success will come hard, if at all. If you relate well to others, you will most likely have a pleasant life, and success will come easier. And that’s where the art of creating rapport comes in.

The ability to create rapport is the ability to create a harmonious relationship based on mutual trust or emotional ties. It is the art of making someone feel comfortable and accepted. It is friendship and camaraderie; it is a special bond or kinship.

It all starts when you first meet someone. Remember the old saying,  “First impressions are lasting impressions.” It’s true. If you cannot communicate effectively, then you won’t be able to sell yourself to others or build rapport. Your overall goal should always be to make the other person feel important or at least liked and understood. It takes time, but successful people will agree that it’s time will spent.

You may not realise it, but judgments are made about you by the way you look, your clothes, hair, facial expressions, and your posture. And unfortunately, decisions are made by others based on whether or not they find you appealing. The other person will usually make these decisions within five seconds upon meeting you.

Before you even open your mouth, people are sizing you up. At first people will listen to what they see, not what they hear. Other people will judge you by how you stand, how you walk, how you shake hands, how you smile, and how you sit. That’s why it’s important to plan your clothes, and even how you comb your hair before a meeting, if you can.

You can help influence a person’s impression of you. For example, darker clothing colours suggest authority. Lighter colours suggest friendliness or a sense of humour. If you want to come across as innocent, you should wear white. And wearing a lot of jewellery suggests power or wealth.

Dressing carefully and thoughtfully for a meeting shows respect for the other person. When you dress with care, walk with command, extend your hand, smile, and greet a person with a secure tone of voice, you are letting that person know you are a person worthy of respect. You are saying, “If you respect me, I’ll respect you.” And that is a very good starting place for a relationship.

People who have mastered the art of rapport, know that the visual can be misleading. There is an old adage that says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” To get past the cover and into the contents, you must employ the art of conversation. Some people are good at it. Others don’t have a clue as to where to start. It begins simply with the sharing of information.

When you first meet someone, you should always try to learn something about that person that you can relate to an experience in your own past. It’s fun to talk to someone with whom you have something in common, an event, a mutual acquaintance, or some other shared history. You can find some common element with everyone, and you should always try.

Casual conversation does have its place so you shouldn’t be too eager to jump directly into business or some other agenda. It’s important that you don’t come to a meeting or negotiation with one agenda. Rather, you should always go into these situations with an open mind. You miss a valuable opportunity to build rapport if you are inflexible or don’t listen. Being an active listener is often more important in building rapport than being an active speaker.

If you have a relaxed view of the world and have a sense of humour, it will engender people’s confidence in you. Confidence breeds respect, and respect builds trust. The ability to laugh at yourself has a deep, psychological appeal to others. And this is a great quality to possess.

One of the hardest situations in which to establish rapport is the telephone conversation, because you cannot see the face of the other person with whom you are speaking. Even if you know the person on the other end of the line, you cannot see his or her facial expressions, which can provide you with a mountain of information. If you don’t know the person with whom you are speaking, you are even more handicapped.

Before you even pick up the telephone and place your call the first thing you should do is put a smile on your face. Although the other person cannot see your smile, the warmth and friendliness will come through.

Then, you should identify yourself immediately, and explain the purpose of the call, if it’s not known. It’s important to be businesslike, but some people confuse that with being impolite or stern. You should convey your message, whether it’s business or not, in a manner that is considerate and gets the point across. Too friendly will be unprofessional; too businesslike will be considered rude.

You should never talk down to people, no matter how many levels down the corporate ladder they are, or how much younger they may be. Remember, you’ll get further with a person if he or she thinks you care. Even if it takes time, you should always try to create an atmosphere of caring. The time will have been well spent, if you make a new friend or reassure an old one.

Creating rapport has many benefits. Think of it as a basic human-relations skill that can further your own goals or objectives. And you can establish rapport simply by taking the time to make a person feel comfortable in your presence.

Here are 10 points that will help you create a good first impression and establish rapport:

1. Dress well and to the other person’s expectations.

2. Smile when you first see the person.

3. Establish and maintain eye contact.

4. Be the first to say hello and extend your hand.

5. If the meeting is in your office or home, greet the person at your door.

6. Deliver a sincere greeting.

7. Use the person’s name

8. Don’t speak too softly or loudly.

9. Do any necessary homework about the person you are meeting.

10. Do more listening than talking.

When you are putting together the elements that create an inviting and pleasing atmosphere, don’t go overboard. Make sure that what you do is appropriate for the occasion, or you’ll make your guest feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, just the opposite of your intentions.

With a little fine-tuning, anyone can become a person of warmth, concern, and charm. By learning the art of rapport and making it a part of your everyday life, you will become a person who makes friends, influences colleges, and rises to the top.