Welcome along to my summary of Week 4 of my NLP Practitioner training run by Passion Pumpkin NLP (NLP in leicester). this week’s subject was Rapport.
Rapport, it seems to me, is one of the most essential people skills to have. To be able to be rapportful with anyone is the key to success, in my opinion. And I mean anyone. One should not harbour prejudices or judgements on others, or else we’d find ourselves in a relationship bubble, only speaking with those whom we liked or knew.
Rapport is all about being able to communicate and get on with others. There are several tricks to rapport, all which clearly take a lot of time to master. I’ll look at these in a bit. However, one of the most important tasks is the introduction. We looked at Nicholas Boothmans’ approach in get people to like you in ninety seconds.
The initial greet is thus:
1. Be open (open your jacket, no folded arms etc) and “aim your heart a the person”
2. Eye contact. Make eye contact first, note the colours of peoples eyes.
3. Beam – smile, like you mean it!
4. Shake hands firmly and say “hello my name’s steven and you are?”. Repeat their name 3 times in the conversation.
5. Lean – lean in slightly toward the person.
I love the idea of aiming your heart to the person and I’ve been trying to do that since. I also love making a mental note of people’s eye colours and even people whom I have know for a long time, I didn’t know their eye colour until this week. As soon as you make eye contact first, it’s almost as if the connection is made and the other steps are just niceties!
I have always practiced the other steps, whether intuitiously or through learning somewhere along the line. However, putting them all in a nutshell like that is great help. I’d recommend you read “how to make anyone like you in 90 seconds”, it’s very helpful on rapport.
Rapport is taught in mediation training too, although not to the extent it is in NLP. A observed a mediator who basically said hi to the parties, came out the room and told me that that was the rapport stage done. Its not!
Interestedly, Milton Erikson who a lot of NLP seems to be based on would build rapport with clients for years before leading them, but it can be done sooner.
Once you’ve done the greeting as above, you need to start “pacing” as NLP calls it. My mediation training called it “tuning in”. Either way, you need to “be with” the person. Listen to them, don’t talk over them. Ian’s notes have it spot on: believe they are a wise, interesting person, take an interest in them and hear their story. Some key tools in pacing are: Reflecting back, rephrasing, summarizing, matching. It obviously takes a hell of a lot of practice to be rapportful with everyone, but I think it’s worth it.
When you consider that “the meaning of communication is the response it gets” and that “there are no difficult people only inflexible communicators” we can immediately see why it’s essential to crack rapport.
We also learned about matching and its incredible power. We looked at the logical levels, that is the different areas in which the brain deals in, and how matching can help.
Environment – This is all about “fitting in” – the example is you don’t turn up to a meeting in pyjamas!
Behaviour – includes body language, eye contact, breathing, voice tone, voice speed, language.
I love the idea of matching language. Some people are visual (“The way I see it is…”) and some people are audio (“I hear you loud and clear”) and some people are doers/kinesthetic (“Lets do this!”). To build rapport quickly, you pick up on their preferred language and use it. Brilliant.
Capabilities – this is about being good at what you do and sharing those skills with other
Beliefs and Values – again this is really powerful. Its not agreeing with the person, merely respecting what is important to you. Something many people struggle with, me included, is asking “why” – why do you believe that – as it comes across as judgmental. Better, Ian suggests, to ask “how”.
Identity – this is the core level for everyone. Get this wrong and you’re doomed rapport wise. Get it right and you’re onto a winner. But it is obviously about being genuine and showing interest or otherwise it will be fake.
Over the last week I have been trying to implement the steps to building rapport, although working from home means I dont get to try it out on a huge number of people.
What has been useful is to try out phone rapport, by matching the other’s voice speed, tone and pause length. I think this is incredibly powerful and its certainly made a difference, I believe.
The other point that I picked up is simply imagining that everyone is interesting and wise – even if it turns out they’re not, you should let them prove the point not assume it. Being wildly interested in the other person does wonders for rapport and building the relationship.
Rapport is something that is incredibly important to everyone. As a mediator in leicester, rapport has to be one of the most important skills in helping people to resolve legal disputes. Without rapport, I’ll be seen as against a party and “pro” the other side! If that happens, my chances of helping them to resolve their dispute falls rapidly.
Moreover, rapport is incredibly useful in everyday life. Even if you dont use it to “influence people” like lots of NLP on the internet is about and instead use it to connect to new people, then its a wonderful thing!
At the end of the class, we touched upon the work of Brene Brown who advocates living “with a wholehearted vulnerability”, and discussed being true to oneself and not being worried what others think of you. I questioned this (perhaps a bit too hard and long really, we finished at 10.15pm!) but my thinking was this:
If NLP is about the excellence of oneself and the betterment of one’s relationships, then surely being empathetic and sympathetic and not hurting the feelings of others is a better world view, not as Brene Brown seemed to suggest in that if people dont like what you are then thats fine – you cant please everyone.
Now, I wasnt trying to say that I fall in either of those, but for me, I think if we’re talking about making human connection and being more empathetic, then we should at least think of others before acting. We touched upon “ecology checks” in NLP last week, where we considered our nearest and dearest before setting outcomes. So why not do that in being true to ourselves.
I realised toward the end of that discussion that actually Brene Brown had a valid viewpoint, that should be respected, but I didnt need to agree with it. So perhaps I started to build rapport with a quote. Who knows!