As an investigator – or indeed someone who manages whistleblowers, disclosers and informants – the concept of rapport is just about number one on the list of essential traits and skills. Everyone knows what it is, right? Is it really that important? Surely, a simple “how’s your day going?” is enough?

Rapport forms the basis of meaningful, close and harmonious relationships between people. It’s the sense of connection that you get when you meet someone you like and trust, and whose point of view you understand. It’s the bond that forms when you discover that you share each other’s values and priorities.

Researchers say that when you have a rapport with someone, you share:

  • Mutual Attentiveness: You’re both focused on, and interested in, what the other person is saying or doing.
  • Positivity: You’re both friendly and happy, and you show care and concern for one another.
  • Coordination: You feel “in sync” with one another, so that you share a common understanding. Your energy levels, tone and body language are also similar.

This connection can appear instantly – when you “click” with someone – or develop slowly, over time. It can grow naturally, without intent, or you can deliberately set out to build it.

Rapport isn’t just a tool for building relationships, though; it’s often the foundation of success in interviewing complainants, witnesses and respondents in workplace investigations. It’s also vital in establishing relationships with people who want to give you information or are thinking about it (blowing the whistle) When you have a rapport with someone, you’re better placed to influence, learn and teach, particularly as the trust that you’ve built up, means other people are more likely to accept your ideas, to share information, and to create opportunities together.

Easy, right? Just have a yarn about a bit of stuff and the trust is built!

There’s a bit more to it! Rapport building is a skill that can be taught. Those in the workplace responsible for conducting investigations, managing public interest disclosures (PID’s), identifying workplace behaviours, conducting cultural reviews or managing staff generally, require the skills and ability to build rapport and communicate effectively.

Who is engaged in unethical practices impacting your business?  Who are the leaders and who are the followers? How do you cultivate the correct person to provide you with timely information?


Rapport building techniques have been used in many organisations including Law enforcement, Judicial officers and the Military, when vital information is required from persons, to stop various outcomes. These outcomes may include the inappropriate sharing of intellectual property rights, waste of corporation assets, from unethical to engaging in criminal behaviour. This skill set is also applicable to various other workplaces issues such as recruiters, and those who are the face of your organisation. It takes a bit more than a friendly chat, it’s structured conversation, with intent.

At the Professional Investigators College of Australasia (PICA) we’re experts in all things investigation, compliance and integrity. Our new innovative Whistleblowers’ and Disclosers (WAD) Workshop has been developed by the best in the business and is delivered by experts in cultivating, maintaining and communicating with whistleblowers, informants and disclosures. The workshop is perfect for those in Governance roles. You’ll learn all the key communication, negotiation and liaison skills to manage WADs and get to put into practice skills through experiential learning.