Through this blog I would like to pass on some valuable information acquired through my sales, life coaching, customer service, and NLP practitioner training – which will help drive home the importance of building rapport.
Rapport is the ability to connect with others in a way that creates a climate of trust and understanding. It is also the ability to appreciate one another’s point of view (not always to agree with it), to be on the same wavelength, and to understand and accept one another’s feelings. Rapport is essential for any form of communication to take place – unless, of course, you don’t want to make progress!
You are more likely to buy from, agree with, support and stay with someone to whom you feel connected than you are when this is not the case.
You can build rapport face to face, over the phone, via email, through text messages, through letters, or just in your imagination. And you can build rapport over time, shortly after you have met, instantly on meeting, or in advance of even making someone’s acquaintance.
No matter what the circumstances or whom the people are that you want to build rapport, it is without doubt the quality of rapport that makes the difference.
The skills involved in building and maintaining rapport were some of the earliest to be discovered with NLP and they have become essential to the networking economy. The people who were chosen as models of excellence, particularly in situations of influence or change, demonstrated that rapport is one of the most important factors needed for change to take place.
If you think building rapport is just about matching people’s behavior, then think again. The skill of building and maintaining rapport goes well beyond the level of body language. Rapport involves not only relating to people face to face, but also remotely by appealing to their style of communication and their expectations.
People like people who are like themselves. Pay attention to the physical mannerisms of the people around you. People in rapport typically adopt the same posture, move and gesture in similar ways, laugh together, adopt the same style and rhythm in movement and speech. They “match” each other. This happens naturally when two or more people are in rapport. They almost certainly aren’t consciously aware of it happening. The result is that their thinking and feelings will be similar. Mind and body are part of the same system. What occurs in one part will affect all the other parts.
By modeling people who have deep levels of rapport, we discover they adopt the same or similar style of :
- Movement and gestures
- Breathing levels
- Voice tone and quality
- Language content: visual/auditory/feelings, and keywords.
They also hold similar, or in some cases, identical:
- Sense of Identity
- Purpose in work and life
Skillful communicators build rapport by:
- Seeking to connect with everyone with whom they come into contact in a way that demonstrates respect for difference. They respect the beliefs, values, and styles of others even though they may be different to their own.
- Being aware of the degree to which they are similar (or not) in any of the following – recognizing that significant dissimilarity probably indicates lack of rapport:
- Posture – position of the body/position of the legs and feet/weight distribution; position of the arms/hands/fingers; shoulder tension or relaxation; inclination of the head.
- Expression – direction of the look; movement of the gaze.
- Breathing – rate of breathing; position of the breathing, in the chest/abdomen or lower stomach.
- Movement – signature rhythm (overall tempo of movement), fast/steady/slow/still.
- Voice – pace/volume/pitch/tone/type of words, intonation.
- Language – visual/auditory/feelings patterns.
The more you can subtly get into the style of the person with whom you are communicating, the more you will begin to understand what their motives, attitudes, values, beliefs, and feelings must be for them to be doing and saying what they are doing and saying. Rapport is influence. When you are communicating with someone else, you are part of a system. The higher the level of rapport that exists between you, the greater the influence you have, on one another. When you listen with rapport, you are listening with your whole body. Not only do you hear what the other person is saying, you also gain insights into what they are thinking and feeling. You are influencing the situation with your non-verbal behavior more often than anything that you do. Whole body listening can be the trigger that influences someone to gain insight, to find their own solutions, and to generate commitment to those solutions.