WHAT IS RAPPORT?
Rapport, n. a harmonious or sympathetic relationship.
Harmonious, adj. 1. Agreeing in feeling or action.
2. Blending well.
Sympathetic, adj. 1. Feeling or showing sympathy.
2. Sharing one’s ideas, feelings, etc.
Relationship, n. 1. The state or fact of being related. 2. Kinship.
As you go through life, the more easily you can get what you want or need, the more “fluid” your life will be. This fluidity makes bumps in the road less frequent and less troublesome. The secret to this more fluid life is creating rapport (a good rapport) with people you meet.
WHY DO I NEED RAPPORT?
There is nothing—nothing—in your life or your world that is not in some way, shape, or form the result of rapport. People who established rapport so they could work together well to create a car, designed the car you drive. The food you eat is made, packaged, and shipped by a company of people who created rapport to make sure the company’s operation (creating your food) goes on like clockwork.
Both your personal and business lives need rapport to get what you want and need, but remember—rapport is not a “sometimes” thing. It is an “all the time” thing. Every interaction you have with another human being, however slight, is a rapport-moment.
If you’re not conscious of yourself and your role in that rapport-moment, you might create a negative rapport with the other person.You must understand and command your rapport skills. After all, because you create rapport anyway, you might as well create good rapport and create a more fluid life.
THE FOUR ASPECTS OF RAPPORT
In the following sections, I will take you through rapport as it is in your life. We will start from the basics, your body, go through your emotions and your mind, and finish by tapping into your spirit’s rapport.
Rapport in the body
Rapport’s physical aspect is the most tangible and noticeable because it literally mirrors you. Have you ever talked with someone and noticed that you were sitting or standing exactly as he or she was? Well, these are rapport’s physical signs.
As an extreme example of physical rapport, many studies have shown that women who are close friends begin their menstrual cycles at the same time of the month. This happens even though they originally had their cycles at different times before knowing each other.Obviously, there is an unconscious aspect at work in the physical/physiological workings of rapport among people. In the study of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), two techniques help people physically build positive rapport with others. These techniques are called mirroring and matching.
The concept of mirroring is basic and the simplest method of physical rapport building. Yet, it has a deep scientific basis.We can’t make ourselves look like others, but we can do the next-best thing. We can mirror their body.
As you might have guessed, mirroring is being like a mirror and copying the other person’s movements. You can copy everything about the person’s body—his or her posture, his or her hand and leg movements, his or her facial expression, even the timing of the person’s blinking. The key is not to be obvious when you mirror. If you purposely do everything the person does when he or she does it, the person will notice, and you will create very bad rapport.
EXERCISE 1: Next time you sit and talk with someone, notice the person’s body. Just allow yourself to notice at first. After you feel comfortable noticing his or her body, begin to put your body in the same posture as the person’s body. Don’t do it all at once. Do it one piece at a time. Give yourself twenty seconds between movements until you mirror his or her posture.
EXERCISE 2: Once you feel adept at mirroring static postures, move on to mirroring actions. Notice whether the person touches his or her chin occasionally, whether the person stretches his or her back sometimes, or whether he or she turns to scan the room every few minutes. Watch for any short duration action the person does as you two talk. Give yourself fifteen to twenty seconds after the person is done and then do the same movement, but be sure to be subtle about it. If the movement feels wrong to you at that moment, don’t force it, or the other person will notice it.
After you feel comfortable mirroring, you can move to matching.
There are five factors in matching: modality, voice, breathing, data size, and commonality.
Try to match the person’s energy level. Is he or she excited? Is he or she calm? Is he or she morose? When you try to match someone, start with matching that person’s energy level first. Even if you don’t “feel it” at the moment, you will find that you get used to it very quickly.
The next step in matching is matching the other person’s voice, which consists of matching the volume at which the person speaks, the speed at which he or she speaks the person’s tone, and the quality of his or her voice. As with mirroring, matching the voice is about subtlety. You want to start slow and ramp up gradually so the other person doesn’t notice. After all, we’ve all suffered the childhood torture of the “repeater.”
The next matching process is matching the other person’s breathing.
Although this might seem pointless, it isn’t. This small, nearly imperceptible action is like a fine-tuning on the more overt actions you have done so far, and it helps take the rough edges off the picture the other person sees of you. Simply focus on the person’s breathing for a little while. Notice the speed at which he or she breathes, and when he or she breathes in and breathes out. As you watch the person’s breathing, you should naturally begin to feel your body match it. If not, give your body a little conscious help, and soon, you’ll be on the same breathing pattern as he or she is.If, for some reason, the breathing pattern does not work well for you, and it doesn’t allow you to relax and speak naturally, go back to breathing normally.
The next step in matching is matching the other person’s data or thought-processing size. So, when you first talk with your partner, try to limit your talking so you can listen and gauge the size of your partner’s “picture”; then, you can easily speak to him or her at the same level.
The final step in the matching system is building commonality or finding common ground with the other person. The easiest way to build commonality is simply to look for all the things you share and point them out.
Rapport as emotion
Rapport in the body or physical aspect is fine, and it can help you establish a relationship with someone. However, sustained rapport must go deeper than what you say and how you move. To create true rapport with someone, you must feel it as an emotion. Think of it as that “click” you feel with someone. As you spend more and more time in “his or her world,” you will see him or her as a person and not a target.
Rapport in the mind
Now that you have taken rapport into your body and felt it as an emotion, it is time to understand rapport in your mind. When we choose whom to build rapport with, we can’t help thinking WIIFM (What’s in It for Me). Of course, if your only thought is WIIFM, it is very difficult for you to have meaningful relationships or build good rapport with others. If you focus on the other person’s wants and needs, you will begin to see how his or her wants and needs mesh with your wants and needs. Soon, the win/win window of opportunity opens in front of you, almost like magic.
Rapport in the spirit
The highest level of rapport is when you release all you know and just “be” rapport.
Communication, at the highest level, is not to be entered into with a set outcome.
Instead, you should prepare yourself as best you can, then let your expectations go and lose yourself in the dance of the connection with the other person. In this way, you are fully engaged in the communication without holding back.
When accessing the spirit’s rapport, you do not seek either person’s “story.” You seek what is really happening, because you can only affect what happens at the moment.
“Stories” are merely people’s viewpoints. Rapport, at its highest level, is truth without a viewpoint.
“And the truth shall set you free.”
Dr. Cherry A. Collier
Chief Engagement Officer (CEO) and Head Coach of PACE
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Cherry A. Collier, Ph.D., MCC, CNLPMC, RCC, CPCC
Chief Collaboration Officer, Master Certified Executive Coach & Inclusion Strategist
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