It is one of the most powerful techniques used in NLP. Many people already use it and don't even know. Let me give you an example of something that I have experienced.
Buying a car.
OK, many of us have bought a car, right? When you buy the car, you drive into the parking lot. You get out of your car. And you start wandering. The salesman comes over and often starts asking you questions, which is great, but I found that often the salesman doesn't listen to the answers to the questions. When that happens, the salesman hasn't built rapport with you. We're going to come back to this salesman in just a minute.
Somebody I follow on social media is the caregiver for one of her family members. The family member has Alzheimer's. one of the things I've watched is the rapport she has with the family member. Rather than tell the family member that he’s wrong or forgotten things, she agrees with him, she jokes with him, she builds rapport, and she makes him feel comfortable.
So what exactly is rapport? Well, the easiest way for me to describe it is this: when you click with someone. Think about that car salesman, or maybe a TV salesman, or the best sales person you've ever seen. You go in to buy something, and you walk out of there with the item plus all the extra things that go with it. Chances are that sales person has built a rapport with you. They've asked you questions, they listened to your answers, they've understood how you respond to the world. And they've used that to build rapport.
Another definition of rapport is an unconscious receptivity, so this is really when the other person responds verbally or unconsciously, so there's less interference from the conscious mind. You’ve probably watched people who sit with their hands folded on the table and soon the person they are talking to has their hands folded on the table. Rapport has been established and it is not at an awareness level.
When you are working with a person, building rapport is always the first thing that you establish. You establish rapport between the person you're talking to before figuring out what what exactly they're looking for in their life, where they want to get a job, etc. . You feel that connection and you build up the trust and then you can work to help them make the changes that they're looking for.
One of the best rapport-building techniques I can think of, and you've probably heard it before, is mirroring.
An example of mirroring is when the person you are talking to raises their right hand and you raise your left like a mirror image. Just as if you were looking in a mirror, you might pick up the pencil opposite of them when you're talking. This is a very subtle way to build rapport.
Another piece of rapport is listening to somebody's language. For example, if a person says “I felt this way, I felt that way, I feel”... When you hear words that talk about feelings or are visual words (I see, I am looking) or even auditory words (It sounds like), you use those words in responses back.
There is also a type of mirroring their physiology. If the person you are wanting to get in rapport with is standing tall, you stand tall, if their arms are crossed, you cross your arms. It could be the person tilts their head, you tilt your head a little bit, the person sits forward, you said forward a little bit.
One other way to build rapport is the pitch of your voice, the tone of your voice, and the speed at which you speak, so if somebody you're working with somebody and they talk really fast and really high, you would build rapport with them by speaking a little bit higher, turning your volume up just a little bit louder, and maybe making your speed faster, or vice versa just depending on what your client wants.
A few more subtleties around using physiology: you want to be careful that you are not making somebody uncomfortable. Remember this is all about making somebody feel comfortable.
Another piece that I like a lump in with rapport is letting go of judgement. It's an NLP presupposition that presupposes you respect someone's model of the world. I talked about this in a previous blog post. I just want to remind you what that means. We all have a model of the world. We have pictures in our mind that we've created as a result of different experiences that have happened to us. These become our models of the world, how we think about the world around us. Often our model of the world can be quite different than someone else's. For example, a person who has never experienced poverty will have a model of the world where there has been no lack. They've had most of the necessities they needed. Life has been pretty comfortable.
Then there's the person who has lived in poverty, maybe has been homeless. Their model of the world is you have to fight for everything that you get. These are two very different models of the world. Neither are wrong and neither are right.
One rapport building technique I'm sure many of you heard is paraphrasing. When somebody says something to you, paraphrase what they say and repeat it back to them. An example could be “so what I heard you say was, is that correct?”
The last little piece I want to point out today in this blog post is to say “yes and”
rather than “yes but”. Or “no and” rather than “no but”. When you do that, you you're leading them with encouragement. It is called Milton Model in NLP.
These are just a few of the ways to build rapport, the ways that I teach rapport-building in my NLP workshops and in my coaching practice there are many others that can be used.
Let's come back to that car salesman. If he had asked you a question such as “does color matter to you?” “What are you looking for in a car?” Perhaps I'd say “well I'm really wanting 4 tires” in the language he used to build rapport. These would be words I use when talking about what I want or how I talk about my model of the world., A good salesman always does that and asks you questions using your language pattern.
These are just a few of the techniques I teach during an NLP course. If you're interested in learning more to benefit your life or your career, reach out. I'd love to connect and tell you more.
Have a great week.