Is Rapport a Soft Skill?

When you watch a police show on television or at the movies, quite often you see a hard-nosed detective homing in on a suspect’s story, getting in his face, maybe threatening him or putting a gun to his head to get him to talk. Does it work? On television or the big screen they are able to make anything work, but there is a big difference between “talking” and telling the “truth”.

Aggressive, confrontational tactics may get some people to talk, but are they just saying what they think you want to hear and not telling the truth? Is their nervous behavior due to the fact they have a gun to their head, literally or psychologically? Are they not recalling facts accurately because they are lying, or is it due to the stress they are under from the context of the interrogation that is impairing recall from their memory?

A real professional interview or interrogation may not be what makes millions at the movies, but it is what works in the “real world.” One of the foundational elements of an effective interview or interrogation is building rapport with the individual. Rapport is a feeling of trust and a connection between two or more people causing a sense of being in “sync” or being on the same “wave wavelength” leading to better communication with each other. It is also a lot harder to lie to someone you have rapport with rather than someone who you despise because they are treating you badly.

Building rapport is one of the most fundamental sales techniques in business as well, and is used to build relationships with others quickly and to gain their trust and confidence. It is a very powerful tool that veteran salespeople naturally employ, which allows them to close more deals with less effort. Do you think a car salesman would sell more cars by trying to “force” you to buy a particular vehicle?

The rough, aggressive tactics detectives use in the movies may look cool, but that does not make rapport a “soft” skill. Establishing rapport is a basic but very powerful psychological technique that will help you develop better connections with the people you interview, establish a bond of trust making it more difficult for the individual to lie to you, help facilitate better communication and help you to identify verbal and behavioral baselines that are important to establish so you can compare linguistic and behavioral changes throughout the interview. And by having a professional interview and establishing rapport, any changes you see in the person’s behavior or language will be much more relevant and meaningful. All of this helps keep you on the path to finding the TRUTH, not simply getting a “confession.”


Our primary purpose is to enhance the investigator's ability to develop rapport, facilitate communication, extract more accurate information, detect deception and obtain the TRUTH from every investigative inquiry.


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