Building Rapport – “How” you say it vs. “What” you say

A large portion of software product manager’s working life is spent working with cross-functional teams – whether it is trying to meet everyone’s expectations (or to be more exact aligning them), or communicating to them (since they often tend to speak using their own terminology) such that everyone is singing off the same song book. When you are new and have not established the rapport or the relationships with your shipmates, it is not “what” you say that tends to be important, but “how” you say it. Everyone is looking for “What is in it for them?” and “Why they should listen to you”. You have not earned your stripes yet. This holds true, no matter whether you are the new product manager or the new CEO.rapport

But once people get to know you and a good working relationship gets established, magic happens. Now, “what” you say becomes more important than “how” you say it. You could even drop every other word and speak (not that I recommend you do this) and still your team magically knows where you are coming from and what you are trying to say. Once the rapport has been built, people start believing in you and you can move a mountain.

So I don’t care what social networks come and go, what technologies make it easier to communicate, nothing comes even close to the traditional “human” face-to-face connection in building relationships. So what have you as a software product manager done lately to build or strengthen existing relationships at work? If you are new at your job, what have you done so that the magic happens that switches the conversation from “how you say it” to “what you say”? After all, it is all about human relationships, not about products. Relationships – internal and external – will outlast any product you will ever build.

Agree? Comments?

Image: Courtesy of

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3 thoughts on “Building Rapport – “How” you say it vs. “What” you say

  1. Important not just for Product Managers, but anyone who is moving into new company, role, new arena. Focus on relationships first (How) and then in some time “What” will be smooth cake.

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