Tag Archives: NLP

Rapport in the Courtroom

This whole blog is becoming devoted to the more personal issues in my life. As you may know, I’m a lawyer (solicitor) a mediator and now an NLP Practictioner. I hope to develop my NLP training into something greater.

This blog post is about one small aspect of NLP – rapport – and how and why it is an essential skill for lawyers (barristers, solicitors, legal executives and, gosh, even secretaries) to have.

Rapport is defined in a multitude of ways, but effectively it’s when two people are connected when communicating, they are on the same wavelength. Rapport takes a while to get used and probably a life time to master but here are some useful steps:

1. Make eye contact first, smile, introduce yourself. Receive the others introduction, repeat their name, ask them something about themselves that’s linked to the environment you’re in.
2. Listen. Actively listen to what the person has to say, as if they are the wisest person you’ve met (they won’t be, but still be interested in them).
3. Pace them/tune in to what they are saying, reflect it back, rephrase it, support them, be empathic. Here’s where you start to build the relationship and let them know you’re listening.
4. Once you have the person on side, you can then lead/tune out, probe, question, reality check, reframe the important stuff or get them to think about their perceptions or beliefs differently.

Every two way conversation needs rapport at its core or else it will be difficult. A one way battle. Like banging your head against the wall. Falling on deaf ears.

How does rapport apply to lawyers and particularly as the title of this blog, in the Courtroom.

I was in Court for an Case Management Conference last week, up against a barrister from London (own account, no chambers). Even before going him, just a polite question from me as to whether his instructing solicitors had provided him with draft directions. The response: pft, we won’t need them after this morning snort snort. Hmm, I said, I wholeheartedly disagree your application is going nowhere fast, so we’ll need to agree directions for Trial. Response: ha, another waste of costs if you ask me, your client is bound to lose, so no point in going to Trial.

In walks Her Honour. I make eye contact and smile. Counsel begins. I’m almost ready to make the unusual step of asking the Court to disregard any submissions on summary judgement because no application has been made just included in submissions filed last yesterday, when the Judge does it for me.

But but but… Counsel continued to argue, not in the legal sense either and indeed at one point the Judge told him to stop squabbling. Counsel was a man without any rapport, any awareness. It was a losing battle but he persisted, which is normally admirable but only when respectful or done intelligently. Counsel had none of the above.

That’s the last I want to hear of that today, let’s look at the other issues, said the Judge.

And so the “spat” between Counsel and Judge continued, me a mere byestander watching, smiling, smirking. A lesson in how not to do advocacy. I’m not an advocacy expert, I do it when required, I don’t profess to be any good. Just honest, to the point and hopefully intelligently. But watching Counsel made me realise that having rapport is incredibly powerful.

Unrapportfulness is yawning and saying sorry that’s boring, when someone is telling you a story. Rapport is truly genuinely being awed by the story.

Counsel had zero rapport. He was literally arguing with the Judge at one point – a battle never to be won.

Last week was a lesson how not to do things. It was also a good demonstration on how my knowledge of NLP can be powerfully used, even as a lawyer.


What is Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP.

NLP to me means more than just nice little phrases.
It’s been a new level of personality
A nuanced look at possibility
And it’s helped me to develop a “never lay passive” approach to life.

NLP to me is more than next level performance.
It’s new likable people
Despite never learning presuppositions
I now long personal relationships

You see, NLP to me is more than not looking pessimistic
It’s meant I do not like pisstaking (as much)
Although I now love psychology
But nonchalantly linger precisely

NLP is a natural life progression
Yet its news for lovers’ probably.
Neighborhoods languish poorly without the
Newfound love for people

NLP to me is negativity left prescribed to
The nonsense losers prohibited from
Not looking positively at what is
Now. look. Ponder.

NLP has given me a new lease of person
Against nervously listening perhaps or
Naively letting people control their
Narcississticaly loving point of view

NLP for me is about naked lust for personality
No longer predictable
A nadir of life produced
From a nascent limb pour l’amour

NLP is more than just nice little phases
It’s a whole new life of possibilities.

Rapport: the key – NLP4

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!

Outcomes: What do you want? – NLP3

Learning Outcomes in NLP

NLP Practictioner Course Week 3 – Outcomes

This blog entry is the fourth in a series of blogs detailing my learning and progress on an NLP Practictioner course in Leicester run by Passion Pumpkin NLP. This week, we experienced meditation and learned about outcomes.

We were introduced to meditation by a chap called Stefan. My previous attempts at meditation were unsuccessful. My mind is too busy. I am constantly trying to fend off thoughts and *trying* too hard to be free from thoughts. Last week’s meditation attempt was much better and there was about a minute or two where I felt like I had achieved a meditated state. And then the thoughts came back!

I’ve tried to do it since, but the conditions have not been right (child, wife, iPad, phone etc) and so I keep getting distracted. Even by my wife’s breathing when in the same room, so I need to take 10 minutes out on my own in order to try again. It’s on the todo list!

Following the mediation we reviewed last week’s subject, the Meta Mirror, with colleagues that weren’t present. This was helpful to solidify understanding but went on too long.

We were then introduced to Outcomes and, through the handout, the problem frame/outcome frame. In other words, have positively stated outcomes not negatively stated problems.

Problems cannot be resolved unless you have an outcome. Simply saying “I don’t have any money” is a problem that won’t fix itself.

We talked about questions one’s stated outcomes, which was useful and interesting from my mediators point of view. For example, challenging an outcome might look like this:

Statement: I want a red Ferrari
Q: what will happen when you get that
A: I’ll drive really fast
Q: what else? What else in your life will change?
A: I will pull loads of hot women and have a great time
Q: how will that make you feel
A: like the king of the world
Q: what next? What would you want then?
A: I wouldn’t want for anything else

Actually, the handout talks about questions like “what resources do you have which can help you achieve these outcomes”, “have you done something similar before?” and “what is the next step”.

Having well formed, realistic, outcomes is incredibly important in the steps to being successful. Whatever succeesful means to you!

In groups we looked at outcomes, with the question “what do you want?’ and my initial answer was that I dont want for anything. Tina analyzed me very well and said that while I might not want for material things, it was clear that my wants were things like “financial security” “happy family” and “bringing up my daughter well”.

Others in my group considered things like jobs, health, being free from pain, happiness, love, relationships, connection with others etc. I’m still thinking about what it is I really want and indeed sharing this with my wife too.

NLP For Dummies suggests a seven step approach:

1. Is the outcome stated in the positive.

It’s not “I want more money” it’s “I want to earn £250,000 per year”. It’s not “I want to loose weight” it’s “I want to be 15 stone (in my case)”

2. Is the goal self-initiated and in my control?

In short, if your partner wants you to lose weight, then you won’t do it as well as if you want to lose weight because YOU want to.

3. Does the goal describe the evidence procedure?

Or, as Ian put it, how will you know you’ve got what you want? Its simple for material things, i’ll know because i’ll be driving fast in my red ferrari.

For something like happiness, the evidence might be much harder to fix on a scale, but if you don’t know how you’ll feel when you’ve reached your target, how will you know when you are there?

4. Is the context of the goal clearly defined?

Where, when, how and with whom do I want to reach my goal?

5. Does the goal identify the necessary resources?

If you say “I want to become a pilot by next year” but a you’re scared of heights and b you’ve never flew a paper plane never mind a jet engined one, then clearly there are some resources which you need before setting out on the road to outcome success.

6. Is the goal ecological?

This is talking about the other connections we have in life. What will happen on my journey to my outcome and when I reach it. How will my life be effected and will it affect those around me. You might want to become a clown in a fair, but that will mean you leaving your wife and child and family and touring around eastern Europe for 9 months. The ecological effect is one which you need to consider.

7. What is the first step?

Pretty straightforward, but in defining your goal, you should include the first step.

“I want to be 15 stone by Christmas and I’m going for a walk now, cutting out biscuits and cakes, and will walk every day (unless it’s raining!)”


Having well formed, realistic, outcomes instead of problems is very important. If you have a negative, problematic approach to live, you won’t get what you want. If you are positive and outcome based, then you will get what you want.

Over the last week, I’ve been trying to think outcomes, in a big, life decisions, way and also in the everyday thinking of more mundane topics. I’m really pleased with the difference in can make in being positive.

I’d love to hear your comments on the above, whether you are in my class or not.

Rain is so depressing. An NLP poem.

Why does it have to rain
and be all grey and miserable
It really upsets my brain
To be in such a lull.

I hope that it gets nicer
Because I’d like to go out
I’ll try to be a fighter
And wash away this bout

If I’ve learned anything lately
It’s to flip things upside down
I can’t yet do it greatly
But at least I don’t still frown

NLP Practictioner Course Week 0

As I mention here, I have for the last few months been taking a beginners course on NLP. I really enjoyed the course and felt like I learned a lot. That course was subtitled “Positive action for change”. To be completely honest, it wasn’t the course I thought it was going to be but it was great anyway.

I had seen NLP mentioned a few times, and I have always been interested in people like Anthony Robbins since someone once told me I could be like him! However, I never really looked into NLP because I was concentrating on my legal career.

While I was in Hong Kong at the end of 2010, I was studying for a TEFL/TESOL qualification and one of the web links mentioned NLP. It kickstarted my interest, I downloaded an ebook and signed up for a night school class.

I had at that time thought that NLP was about how the mind works, how to communicate and how to gain rapport. I had seen business NLP people using it to “gain more sales” and “influence people”. The course was nothing like that.

Instead, the course was about being aware of oneself, aware of others and changing ones system of thinking. It was scratching the surface stuff, but along with the Dummies Guide to NLP, I gained a desire to learn more about the subject.

So here I am, 2 months later at the start of an NLP Practitioner course. This is simply a level, the next one being master practitioner. NLP, you’ll find, has a lot of jargon – it’s the “L” which stands for linguistics and is there solely to make it all sound a bit more scientific and a bit more believable. I don’t like jargon, never have in law either, so where I can I will try to avoid using it.

At the start of this new NLP practitioner course, it was suggested that we should keep a record of learning so we can see our development. A colleague suggested writing a journal. My being a geek means that I’m going to write an NLP Blog! Yeah I rock!

So here it is. Week one. Actually, week zero is probably more realistic, because we didn’t really do any NLP this week. We had to talk about our “map of the world” (our values) and how these might affect our learning on the course and how it might be beneficial to the group.

I have a tendency to talk too much (or write too much!) and although my mediation training has taught me to stop talking and listen instead, in social situations I’m the talker. So my map of the world, in NLP speak, might mean that I benefit less. So the solution is listen more.

I think my current life position also makes me more “susceptible” to taking in NLP, which is both good and bad. A tutor at the School of Psychotherapy, where I studied mediation, said that NLP was like a religion, like a cult. If you’re in it, all you talk about is NLP. I can see this and I’m already mentioning NLP in conversations (”NLP says this, NLP says that etc…”). I see this a both a positive and a negative. I want to improve my life, my thinking, my communication skills and my relationships with others, but not to the extent that NLP becomes my life.

So, that’s where I am. I’m eager to become an NLP practitioner, to learn more about NLP and to change. So here goes!