Life Skills: Pacing and Leading, The Power Move In Conversational Rapport-Building.
Many behaviors can be paced, or mirrored. These NLP Rapport skills are pretty easy to learn, and you can practice them anytime and anywhere that you can observe someone.
They are tools you can use to create better connections and have greater influence. These NLP skills will benefit you in all types of communications.
And in today’s world, COVID-19 has eliminated physical face-to-face meetings. So now we use video-conferencing (VC) apps like zoom, google meet, go-to-meeting, and Webex to brainstorm, teach and share ideas, debate, and/or implement decisions.
And the funny thing is, this can make improving your NLP rapport skills easier!
You see, on VC you can sit and observe when someone else is talking, frequently without a need to respond to the verbal content of what they’re saying.
And it’s pretty easy to notice someone’s speech tonality, tempo, and volume. These are three auditory elements that can be matched, or paced, to establish rapport. Pacing someone’s tonality is not only powerful, but it is also very subtle.
However you may have difficulty matching tonality or pitch if, for instance, you speak in a soprano, and you’re trying to build rapport with someone like me, who speaks in a baritone. So then you might choose to pace the speed or tempo of a participant’s speech even if you’re speaking an octave or two above them.
Another factor of pacing tempo of speech is this: when you are speaking at the same pace that I’m speaking, you are also pacing my breathing. Pacing someone’s breathing may be the most powerful rapport technique.
And you can do this very discreetly. You don’t have to actually breathe with them, instead, you can use some other body movement to time or pace their breath. For example, you might rock or sway your head in time with someone’s breathing. This is called cross-mirroring, it is likely the most subtle and powerful rapport move.
How do you identify someone’s breathing rate? It’s easy, watch them! When they speak, they are exhaling and when they pause, they are inhaling. Other cues are the rise and fall of shoulders and ribcage, and the flare of nostrils. To start, find someone whose breathing is obvious. You might watch an actor speaking on a video, then mute the sound, and just observe those other indicators. Then you could pace their rhythm with your breath, or you could use a hand or a foot to pace their breath with a small subtle motion. For instance, I might have my left hand resting on the table and move my index finger in small movements in time with their breath, or rock my foot back and forth.
So if you’re in a meeting, decide who you want to practice pacing first. Pace their breathing using an out-of-view moving of your hand or your leg or some other part of your body. Do that deliberately for a few minutes. Then stop pacing that person, wait a moment or two. Evaluate: What was that experience like for you? What changes do you notice?
Then start pacing someone else for a similar time, stop, and again, evaluate. Then let yourself continue unconsciously. With practice, you might even be able to pace the breathing of two different people at the same time.
Now you have four elements you can pace to build rapport
1) Pace voice tone
2) Pace voice tempo
3) Pace volume
4) Pace breathing
So pick one to try first at your next opportunity, and have fun with it!
And leading? Yes, it follows pacing, and in an upcoming post, I’ll share how NLP pacing and leading can help you control the direction of your conversations. This enables you to influence outcomes and achieve your desired communication results.