The Secret Nitty Gritty of Rapport: Part 1
By Tom Hoobyar, NLP Comprehensive
Article word count 1051, average reading time 4.2 minutes
What is rapport, and why should you care?
Basically, rapport is a quality of relationship between people. People in rapport are inclined to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and they are more patient and sympathetic towards each other.
Where there is rapport between people, it is easier to reach understanding, to resolve differences, make decisions, and achieve cooperation.
Things run more smoothly when people are in rapport with each other. So it’s usually a good thing to strive for.
EXAMPLE: Deeper in this article is the real life story of a teenage receptionist who created instant rapport with an angry scientist. And she did it in less than 10 seconds! So read on, and have fun.
First, decide that you WANT to be in rapport with the other person. For some reason this kind of commitment tells your whole body how to behave wholeheartedly, in so many little ways that you couldn’t possibly manage it all deliberately. And, if some part of you is NOT really in favor of attempting rapport with this person you will know it early.
This is important information. There may be some personal work you will decide to do before you can be comfortable working with this individual, or perhaps something about the situation is distracting you.
Pay attention to your feelings – it’s useful data. Most social awkwardness comes because we ignore our inner signals, or we try to extinguish them because they “get in the way”.
All that does is to make our inner experience larger than the information coming to us from the outside. Then we become either self-conscious or inattentive to others; hardly a way to succeed with them.
In NLP we’re trained to know that if something is coming up from within, it needs and deserves our respectful attention.
By being sensitive to your internal “B.S. detector” you can learn what is going on inside you before you embarrass yourself or antagonize or bewilder the other person.
Perhaps you can explore this with a friend at an NLP Café or elsewhere. We have the skills to do what few others can about adjusting ourselves. Whatever you do, you cannot just bully yourself and still have any degree of comfort in social situations.
If you have decided that you really truly WANT to be in rapport with the other individual you are well on the way to harmonizing with them. Now you can forget about yourself and focus your attention (and intent) on easing the encounter for your companion.
Make eye contact.
Notice and use the other person’s name. It is the most important word you can use with them.
Match the tone and pace of their talking, and share their energy level (I don’t know what adjustment you would make in yourself to do this; each of us is different. But we DO notice energy levels in each other).
Let me tell you a story here, that happened to one of my employees who DIDN’T have NLP training, but did the right thing anyway.
It was a slow afternoon at our office, and Liz (our receptionist) and I were alone at work. The way our offices were set up, I could lean back and see through the hallway into her office. I was buried in my work when I heard the phone ring and shortly afterward I heard Liz say, “What? That’s ridiculous! Just wait a minute!”
Then, as I leaned back to look into her office to see what had made her so upset, she surprised me by appearing at my office door.
“Tom”, she said in a normal voice, not upset at all, “I’ve got a very angry customer on the phone. Evidently our shipping guy sent him the wrong part on his order.”
I thanked her and picked up the phone.
“Hi, this is Tom Hoobyar, and I’m the president. I understand we screwed up”, I said.
The voice on the other end said, “Yeah, but it wasn’t Liz’s fault, so I don’t want to get her in any trouble. She did everything she could to help me.”
I got his problem settled to his satisfaction, then, after we had hung up, I thought about what he had said. “She did everything she could to help me.”
Huh?? She hadn’t done a thing. She had just taken his complaint call and then given it to me.
Wait a minute.
What she had actually done was practically shout, “”What? That’s ridiculous! Just wait a minute!”
I remember thinking, before I knew what the call was about, that someone had made her angry.
But that’s not at all what had happened. What Liz had done, unconsciously and brilliantly, was to share in our customer’s outrage and show it by matching the tone and pace of his complaining speech.
And he was so comforted by that that he had said to me, “– but it wasn’t Liz’s fault, so I don’t want to get her in any trouble. She did everything she could to help me.”
Interesting how powerful it is to match someone’s tone and rhythm of speech, isn’t it?
Here are some more little secrets of getting connected to someone:
It’s okay to offer personal information that makes you human and imperfect. You’ll impress them by your confidence in being so self-revealing (not confessional; don’t carry it too far, you don’t want to shock, merely reassure).
Notice their breathing and, if you want to get into deep rapport, match it.
And finally, for this first part, listen “between the lines”, where their presuppositions dwell. This is where you will hear their underlying beliefs and assumptions and values.
Ask yourself, “What must it be like in this person’s world for these statements to be true for them?” This question, asked periodically of yourself, is a wonderful teacher. The answers can be your password to many rewarding relationship adventures.
Find out more about Rapport: shop.nlpco.com or www.nlpco.com