12 phrases emotionally intelligent people use to instantly build rapport

Ever feel awkward in a room full of people? You’re not alone.

But some people seem to easily make friends and get along with anyone.

How do they do it?

The answer is emotional intelligence. This means knowing how you feel, and understanding other people too.

Some folks are really good at this. They use simple phrases that make a big difference in how people see them.

Want to know what those phrases are?

Keep reading. I’ve got 12 easy phrases that can help you connect with people right away.

1. “It’s Nice to Meet You”

Okay, so this one might seem like a no-brainer, but hear me out. The way you say “It’s nice to meet you” can set the tone for the entire conversation.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t just mumble these words while staring at their shoes. They say it with genuine enthusiasm and make eye contact.

Why does this matter?

Well, first impressions are a big deal. If you seem excited to meet someone, they’re more likely to feel good about meeting you, too.

It’s all about making the other person feel important right from the start.

So the next time you meet someone, really mean it when you say “It’s nice to meet you.”

Smile, look them in the eye, and maybe even give a firm handshake.

You’d be surprised how such a simple phrase can open doors and kickstart a meaningful connection.

2. “How’s Your Day Going?”

Again, this might sound like small talk, but it’s actually a golden opportunity to connect.

Emotionally intelligent people use this phrase not as filler, but as a stepping stone to deeper conversation. The key is to actually listen to the answer.

I remember asking this question to a colleague at work, expecting the usual “I’m good, how about you?”

But instead, he opened up about feeling stressed over an upcoming deadline. That gave me a chance to offer help and show empathy, turning a casual chat into a meaningful moment.

Asking “How’s your day going?” shows that you care about the other person’s well-being, not just the business at hand.

So when you ask this question, pause and really listen to the answer. You never know where it might lead!

3. “I Don’t Know”

Admitting you don’t know something might seem like a weird way to connect with someone, but it’s actually brilliant.

Emotionally intelligent people aren’t afraid to show vulnerability. In fact, they embrace it.

The thing is, nobody likes a know-it-all. Pretending to have all the answers can make you come off as arrogant or unapproachable.

But saying “I don’t know” does the opposite. It makes you relatable.

For example, I was at a social event once and someone brought up a topic I knew nothing about.

Instead of nodding and pretending to understand, I said, “I don’t know much about that, could you tell me more?”

This not only gave them a chance to share their knowledge but also led to a deeper, more interesting conversation.

4. “I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong”

Admitting you’re wrong can be tough on the ego, but it’s golden when it comes to building rapport.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t shy away from taking responsibility for their mistakes.

They know it’s better to be honest than to be “right” all the time.

I’ve messed up in conversations before—trust me, who hasn’t?

One time I jumped to a conclusion about a friend’s situation and gave unsolicited advice.

Not my finest moment. When I realized my mistake, instead of trying to wiggle my way out, I straight-up said, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

The air cleared instantly, and it brought a new level of trust into our friendship.

Saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong” is raw and puts you in a vulnerable position, but it also shows you’re human.

And guess what? People love connecting with other humans, not with Mr. or Ms. Perfect.

So the next time you make a mistake, own up to it. It could turn an awkward situation into an opportunity for a deeper connection.

5. “What Brings You Here?”

This question is a gem, especially when you’re at an event, a meeting, or any gathering where not everyone knows each other.

Instead of the usual “What do you do?” which can feel like you’re sizing up the other person, asking “What brings you here?” opens up a more engaging dialogue.

The beauty of this question is its flexibility. It’s an invitation for the other person to share as little or as much as they want.

They could talk about their job, their interests, or even personal goals that led them to this event.

This not only gives you a glimpse into who they are but also offers a natural way to steer the conversation to common ground.

6. “That Sounds Challenging; How Are You Managing It?”

When someone shares a problem or a stressful situation they’re going through, your first instinct might be to jump in with solutions or advice.

But emotionally intelligent people often take a different route; they offer empathy and a listening ear before anything else.

Asking “That sounds challenging; how are you managing it?” accomplishes a couple of things.

First, it acknowledges the other person’s feelings or difficulties. It says, “I hear you, and I understand that what you’re going through is tough.”

Second, it gives them the space to share their thoughts and feelings further, which can be incredibly validating for them.

I had a friend who was going through a tough time at work, and when I asked her this question, I could see the relief on her face.

She didn’t want solutions; she wanted someone to recognize her struggle and give her the floor to talk about it.

So, when someone opens up about a challenge they’re facing, try this phrase. It’s a subtle yet powerful way to show empathy and deepen your connection with them.

7. “I Need Your Help”

You might think asking for help makes you appear weak or incompetent, but it’s actually a strength—especially in the eyes of emotionally intelligent people.

Asking for help shows humility and acknowledges the value the other person brings to the table.

Believe it or not, people generally like helping others; it makes them feel useful and important.

So when you say, “I need your help,” you’re essentially giving someone an opportunity to shine.

Plus, working together to solve a problem or accomplish a task can strengthen your relationship and foster a sense of teamwork.

I recall a time when I was struggling with a project and finally asked a coworker for help.

Not only did he provide great insights, but our professional relationship also deepened.

We started collaborating more and became a more effective team.

So the next time you’re in a jam or you just want to involve someone else in what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It could be the ticket to a stronger, more authentic connection.

8. “Tell Me More”

Two simple words, but they can make a world of difference.

When you’re engaged in a conversation, saying “Tell me more” does two things: it shows that you’re genuinely interested, and it encourages the other person to share more about themselves or their ideas.

This phrase is like an open invitation. It says, “I’m listening, and I want to understand you better.”

It works in nearly every situation—whether someone’s telling you about their day, discussing a complex issue, or even sharing a passion or hobby.

I find this especially useful in work meetings.

When a colleague is explaining an idea and I say, “Tell me more,” it not only shows that I value their input, but it often brings out details and aspects that may not have come up otherwise.

And hey, who doesn’t love feeling heard and valued?

9. “I Understand Where You’re Coming From”

This phrase is gold when you’re in the middle of a disagreement or debate.

Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s point of view, saying “I understand where you’re coming from” shows empathy and acknowledges their feelings or perspectives.

When you say this, you’re not conceding the argument or abandoning your own viewpoint.

Rather, you’re creating a space where both sides can exist and be discussed.

This is crucial for maintaining a respectful and open dialogue.

I remember a time when I had a heated debate with a friend about a touchy subject.

We were both getting nowhere fast, and tensions were rising.

Then I decided to shift gears and said, “I understand where you’re coming from.”

The atmosphere changed instantly. We both became more open to hearing each other out, which made the conversation much more productive.

10. “I’m Not Okay Right Now”

It’s often difficult to admit when we’re struggling, especially in a culture that values “having it all together.”

But sometimes, the most honest and connecting thing you can say is, “I’m not okay right now.”

Emotionally intelligent people understand the power of vulnerability.

Opening up about your struggles or admitting that you’re not in the best place emotionally can be incredibly freeing.

It also gives others the permission to be honest about their own challenges, creating a more authentic relationship.

There was a period when I was going through some personal issues, and instead of putting on a brave face, I told a close friend, “I’m not okay right now.”

It was a difficult thing to say, but it led to one of the most genuine conversations I’ve ever had.

My friend not only offered support but also shared some of her own challenges, bringing us closer than ever before.

So if you’re going through a tough time and someone asks how you are, consider being honest.

You don’t have to spill all the details, but admitting that you’re not okay can be the first step toward meaningful support and a deeper connection.

11. “I Appreciate Your Perspective”

Acknowledging the value in someone else’s viewpoint can go a long way in strengthening your relationships, whether personal or professional.

Saying “I appreciate your perspective” sends the message that you respect the other person’s thoughts and are open to learning from them.

In a world where everyone has strong opinions and the urge to be right can be overwhelming, showing appreciation for differing viewpoints is a refreshing change.

This phrase fosters an environment of mutual respect, which is crucial for any meaningful dialogue.

I used this phrase in a meeting once where differing opinions were clashing left and right.

By simply stating, “I appreciate your perspective,” the tension in the room eased and we were able to focus on constructive solutions rather than defending individual viewpoints.

So the next time you find yourself in a conversation with differing opinions, try throwing in an “I appreciate your perspective.”

It can change the tone of the discussion and elevate it from a debate to a constructive conversation.

12. “Thank You for Sharing That with Me”

Sometimes the simplest phrases are the most powerful, and “Thank you for sharing that with me” is a perfect example.

Whether someone has just opened up about a personal struggle, shared a success, or simply contributed to a conversation, acknowledging their input with gratitude can be incredibly affirming.

This phrase shows that you value the other person’s contribution and that you’re thankful for the openness and trust they’ve shown in sharing with you.

It’s a warm, gracious way to wrap up a conversation, but it also works well as a standalone response to a meaningful revelation.

So, whether it’s a close friend, a family member, or even a coworker, don’t underestimate the power of a heartfelt “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

It’s a simple but impactful way to show empathy and build rapport.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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