Rapport part 1
a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well."
Rapport, is a bridge that we build between other people and ourselves in order to better our communication and delivery of messages; it is highly useful when trying to convince somebody of an idea, when attempting to create a fluid conversation, or to get the support and collaboration of others without asking for it.
Sounds good so far?
It happens naturally all of the time, though when we dive into the NLP world we can learn how to achieve it in every situation, and how to become more aware of its existence or lack of it.
So first, we need to understand how to recognize rapport; let's take for example two people sitting in the coffee shop, maybe a business meeting- one is talking very loudly, uses his hands a lot, at times he looks like he is about to get up and jump from moving so much. We can't hear them, but it is clear to us he is passionate about something (he can be angry, trying to sell the other on and idea- both are driven from passion). The other person, sitting across from him, is trying to get him to tone down, he is very still in his chair, back straight and hands are laying on the knees under the table, every once in a while you can see him talk but there's no expression, the only movement is his hands coming up signaling the "passion guy" to lower his volume, or maybe stop moving so much.
Now, as the crowd of that show, what do you think? Are they matching? Do they communicate on the same level/ channel?
Without even hearing their words we can tell that these two people are lacking rapport- they are clashing and not matching (rhyme is not intended). It is not only the table that sets them apart- it is everything about their communication.
When the gap between two people is this big the words lose their meaning and so is the entire act of communication. Remember, the meaning of your communication is the response you get.
A lot of times when we experience good communication we'll describe it with phrases such as; "we had a mutual understanding", "we were on the same page/ channel", "we were communicating on the same wave"- all of these indicates that we have experienced good rapport and managed to get our ideas out there as well as accepting the other side’s message.
Some will even say that rapport is similar to mind reading, and there is some truth to that, our communication and perception of reality are processed in our subconscious and our choice of delivery many times is unconscious. Basically, with using tools and techniques from the NLP world we are able to peek into other people's minds; understanding how the person across from us process’s information, how they deliver it and in what way we can match them, catch their attention and then, lead.
Now that we understand the basics of how to spy rapport we can learn how to be more aware of it and furthermore- build it.
One of my favorite ways to shortly capture the essence of Rapport is draw from a horsemanship post I wrote a while back, and it goes like this; “you approach, you match, you catch”.
The first step of building rapport, The Approach; is actually- giving up the reins, allowing the other side to express themselves. Before we try to establish anything we have to listen. Active listening seems to be the hardest part for some people, since at first it may seem as if we are giving up our ground and letting go of our expectations from the conversation or any other act of communication.
A little horse example; if you go about catching your horse in the pasture, you approach him and he runs away, you do it again- same reaction. If you keep on trying to catch him without matching you are going to end up chasing him around, frustrated and might even give it up all together. But, if you approach, read the signs and the body language, match and draw your horse to you- you will catch him and you are most likely to create a positive experience for the next time.
When practicing active listening we can discover 3 things:
1. The positive intention behind the message; no matter what and with whom you are communicating you have got to consider not only what’s in to for you- what you want to achieve by this encounter, but also- what is in it for them? Once we realize that we can read between the lines and are most likely to be able to create a mutual understanding and a better presentation of our message- without ruling out the other’s all together.
2. The ‘channel’ of communication preferred by the other person; Visual, Auditory or Sensory/ Feelings; we have three main forms of information process and delivery, all are unconscious. Understanding the channel of the other person can help us communicate better and understand how they see and experience the world.
3. The other’s map; once we have figured the first two it is much clearer to us. The internal map is the way each and every one of us experience the world and we react according to it. No one’s map is objective! It is influenced by our values and beliefs, life experiences and events, education and more.
Before we continue on to the match part I would like to add to the 3 channels and explain a bit more. Every channel/type will have a preferred way of communicating that can be noticed- both body language and choice of words.
The Visual group; more likely to seek eye contact, and as uncomfortable as it may be to some people (for example the sensory group)- those people need it! In addition, you’ll notice a use of words from the visual world, for example “I see you”, “I can visualize it”, “the picture is clear” and far more, they use terms and words from the visual world to describe everything and this is also the way they process information, therefor if you spy one in your conversation- help them understand your message by making eye contact (no need to stare) and using more term and words from that world in order to communicate.
same goes here, the words and terms that will be used to describe events, feelings etc… will be from the audio world; “I hear you”, “listen up”, “music to my ears” and more. As for body language you’ll notice them pointing at their ear, turning an ear to you- less eye contact more “I am listening”. When communicating with them you can help by using phrases from the audio world, make sure they see you listening- actively using your body gestures.
Last but not least, the Sensory group; this is the smallest one of them all. People in this group are more connected to the feelings and will communicate and interpret the world that way too. These people are no as comfortable with eye contact and their way to show they are fully engaged in the conversation would be touching, and they look for it as well (we are not talking about holding hand the entire time)- it can be just a little tap on their shoulder or elbow (pick neutral places please) that will help reassuring them. You’ll also hear a lot of “I feel” and emotion based phrases- and same goes here, use their own term to help them understand your message.
Now, that we understand how we can pick into someone else’s mind let’s talk about how to use it- The Match part.
Once we have figures all three, we can start matching the other person by using their language and tuning in to their channel. In addition to that- if the other person is extremely passionate we do not want to try and mute them, we match- we get passionate with and gradually turn it down- same goes the opposite way, if the other side is quiet and introverted we do not want to overwhelm them with our enthusiastic way of communicating- bottom line is, we don’t only match our words and communication channels we also have to match the exterior- volume, body language and even breathing! At first it will feel like two kids repeating each other or playing a game trying to mirror the other person, that’s ok, just don’t go overboard with imitating the other- you don’t want to muck them.
After successfully achieving the approach and the match we can now catch.
Once we have matched the other side we can start leading them towards our map of the world, our idea or message. Now, we have their full attention, they feel understood and respected, they have had the chance to present their stand and, boy that feels great! We are the best listeners they had ever met (shhh. Don’t tell them that you worked really hard and that is your new party trick).
Not only the other side is more open to listening now, we have the information to help us deliver our message to them in a way that will encourage the response we are looking for- or at least won’t get us back to square one- we can meet in the halfway mark too.
Take the time, read it again, and remember it takes practice and awareness but it is worth it.
In the next post we’ll talk all about how to build rapport with your horse and why is it so important?
For more information, questions and requests feel free to contact me through the website or social media platform of your choice!
Till’ next time