Everyone wants to feel acknowledged and recognized in the workplace. The operative word here is feel. Professional people should attempt to rise above their feelings and work toward accomplishing the tasks related to their job. However, if a manager, supervisor or officer of a company has mastered the leadership skills to become trusted and well-liked by their employees, their employees will go out of their way to exhibit higher levels of productivity and remain loyal to them and the company.

Do you consider it manipulative to practice high levels of rapport skills related to verbal and nonverbal communication for effective leadership? It's a fact that businesses spend billions of dollars each year to equip their employees with the necessary skills and qualities to help them become more productive. For example, just because you tell someone the complete truth doesn't mean they'll believe you, but there are easily learned skills that will help you create immediate and high levels of credibility.

Here are some suggestions for creating good relationships, loyalty and rapport in the workplace.

1. Watch how you're standing. Men enjoy standing side by side when speaking to one another. Women enjoy facing each other while talking to one another. Women: When approaching a man, slowly position your torso at an angle to his torso to make him comfortable. Gentlemen, to make a woman comfortable, slowly move your torso so you're standing face to face with her to make her comfortable.

2. In your mind's eye, picture a spotlight on anyone you're speaking to. Every time you speak, the spotlight turns off of them and on to you. So do your best to keep them, not you, in the spotlight. Don't regale them with your tales of your experiences. Instead, use active-listening skills--stay with them and explore their comments.

3. Avoid touching yourself when speaking to others. Do your best to keep your hands still. Don't play with your hair or jewelry, wring your hands or touch your face. By touching yourself, you're indicating your need to comfort yourself, and unconsciously that makes the other person feel you're not paying attention to them.

4. Smile while you're talking. It's great to smile when you're listening to someone, but it's equally powerful to smile at someone while you're speaking to them.

5. Subtly mirror people's gestures when you're speaking to them. If they sit back in their chair, sit back in yours. If they fold their hands, fold yours. You must be subtle, or you'll get caught. Learn to be very graceful in your mirroring, and move very slowly, as if you're making natural movements and not copying them.

6. Talk 20 percent of the time and listen 80 percent of the time. Let people talk about their favorite subject: themselves. When someone is speaking, ask them questions, nod affirmatively as they speak, and avoid interrupting them until they've finished talking and then ask them another question. When you're listening, you're in control of the conversation because you can guide the conversation anywhere you want it to go without volunteering anything about yourself or your own opinions.

7. Avoid offering unsolicited advice in public or in private. Generally, people will become defensive and stop talking when you offer them advice they didn't ask to hear. Offering advice makes a listener think they're wrong and that they've made a mistake by volunteering their viewpoint. Instead, say, "That's one way of looking at it," or "Let's take the learning experience from that and take it to the next level."

8. Offer sincere flattery every day to work associates, clients and vendors. Most people enjoy being thanked for a job well-done, but only comment on their behavior and not them personally. Be specific with your flattery, or it will fall flat. For example, "Good job on the graphics on the front page," or "You did a nice job of finding that customer's lost baggage from Atlanta." Give flattery in a timely manner--don't wait too long to deliver it. Be sensitive to the fact that some people like public flattery and some prefer to receive theirs privately. Some people need frequent flattery, and some have difficulty with hearing any flattery at all.


Phyllis Davis coaches senior-level executives through her company, Executive Mentoring and Coaching Inc., and has taught corporate etiquette and protocol for the past 28 years. She is the author of the forthcoming book E² The Power of Ethics and Etiquette in American Business, available from Entrepreneur Press in Spring 2003.