A Guide from Mister Wednesday: How Do You Build Rapport?

By definition, rapport is a close and harmonious relationship between people that will foster good communication and excellent output. It is like a fuel to the workforce. If you’re one of the leading figures in your company, it is important that you find ways to build rapport with your employees.

But how exactly do you build rapport? A pay raise might do the trick - but that’s going to be difficult on the part of the company. Thankfully, there are other ways for you to build rapport without costing your company a single centavo. For example, there are lots of tips I found in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods – specifically from Mister Wednesday.

But before we go about listing the various methods of how this certain Mr. Wednesday increases the rapport of his subordinates, it’s important to know who he is and look into his working environment.

Who is Mr. Wednesday?

Mr. Wednesday is an Old God in the story American Gods written by Neil Gaiman. At first, he will seem like a con-artist but, in truth, he is fighting for people to believe and restore faith in the old gods.

In his fictional world, humanity has lost faith in the gods of historical antiquity and are praising the new gods. Humans now worship media, pop culture, and technology. This, in turn, has affected the powers of the old gods. Worried, Mr. Wednesday embarks on a quest to grab back the favor of believers. And, in the process of getting what he needs, he has to depend on the security services of an ex-convict - Shadow Moon.

The relationship between Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon is a microcosm of the universal application of employee-manager relations. The dynamics between the two gives you an insight into how boss-worker relationship affects the building of rapport. Here are some instances in American Gods where you can actually learn something when it comes to cultivating healthy rapport amongst your employees:

01. Be a Friendly Face in the Crowd.

During the first time Shadow Moon encountered Mister Wednesday, he was trying to board a flight back to his hometown of Eagle Point, Indiana. Mr. Wednesday pretended to be a senile man who was suffering from a case of dementia. Of course, this proved to be untrue when Shadow Moon found himself sitting right beside the Old God in first class. Mr. Wednesday then introduced himself and offered a glass of Jack and Coke to a confused and bewildered Shadow Moon. The two then kick it off and start talking about life.

This instance in the narrative is how we should be when it comes to interacting with employees or subordinates. To increase rapport, you have to be approachable and show that there’s nothing to fear when interacting with you. Of course, there should always be that barrier between you, as the manager, and them, as your subordinates.

02. Do Not Come Off Too Needy.

Of course, Mister Wednesday, being the god that he is, knows the art of keeping his subordinates grounded. When he offers a job to Shadow Moon, he gives all the benefits he has to offer. Full-time pension, medical care, and other advantages when it comes to working for him. But, at the end of the long list of benefits, Mr. Wednesday still reveals the option of declining his offer. Shadow ponders over this offer until he passes out mid-flight.

This event in the book shows how you, as a manager, should practice the give and take rule. Avoid seeming too desperate. There have been numerous instances that managers have tried too hard in getting people’s spirits up. This will make you seem too desperate and weak in the eyes of your subordinates. You will only end up alienated.

So, whenever you’re in the middle of an in-office soiree that you authorized, don’t try to be the center of attention. Stand on the sidelines and watch how your subordinates interact. Apart from exerting your power through distancing yourself, you will also be able to study the dynamics of your work group as an added bonus.

03. Be Genuine and Show Interest.

One of the more absurd experiences of Shadow Moon was the death of the love of his life. And, as if things couldn’t get even worse, he found out that before dying, his girl cheated on him with his friend. Mister Wednesday caught wind of this and listened to Shadow. The old god also gave him some counsel on how to deal with such an absurd situation in one’s life. He also asked Shadow if going back to his hometown would affect how he performed his duties. The Old God allowed Shadow to mourn but gave him a stern reminder that there was still more work to be done.

Like Mister Wednesday, you should also show genuine concern for your employees. When they are going through something, you have to be the understanding manager and let them deal with their hardships. But, don’t forget to remind your employees that you are still their manager. Sure, give them some time off to grieve the death of their cat, but remind them to finish their duties the next day. Maintain the rapport of your employees by making them understand that you are genuinely interested in their daily lives but also keep an air of professionalism by reminding them of their duties.

Increasing or maintaining the rapport of the people you are trying to lead is like walking a tight rope. Like Mister Wednesday, you should learn to be both like a caring parent while maintaining a stern approach in your managerial strategy. Avoid sucking up to your employees but also make them feel that you care. Give each of your subordinates a genuine hands-on approach but avoid micromanagement. In this way, you will be able to keep a healthy rapport amongst your workers while also gaining that precious high-quality output that you’ve been looking for.


  1. Haha, great tips! You've made me want to watch this show now...

  2. Great tips, i really like the picture with the birds i think its awesome picture!

  3. Funny how the simplest things can make a huge difference yet a lot of people don't see or even get it. I always do my best be genuine and show interest its really how I get that good rapport. Good article, thanks for sharing.