NLP & Rapport
What exactly is ‘rapport’?
In NLP we consider rapport to be the sense of harmony, recognition and mutual acceptance that exists between people when they are at ease with one another and where communication is occurring easily.
Why do I need to have rapport with someone?
When we are in rapport with someone the similarities between us are emphasised and the differences are minimised or played down. This works because people like people who are like themselves. Like likes like. And this is why we usually gravitate to people who are similar to us.
Is rapport skill?
We naturally and effortlessly experience rapport with close friends or with people with whom we share an intense common interest. In such circumstances it occurs effortlessly and unconsciously.
Nevertheless the ability to create rapport is a skill that can be learned and which we can use to facilitate our relationship with anybody, in any setting, and even with those with whom we profoundly disagree.
How to create rapport
There are many ways of creating rapport. In three of the most effective to create rapport you:
- Match non-verbal communication – especially voice patterns and eye contact patterns
- Develop a genuine interest in the other person and in their model of the world
- Use the Pegasus NLP 4 Rs.
1. Matching non-verbal communication
Create non-verbal rapport using the sound of your voice and your eye contact pattern.
This is the quickest and most useful way to begin. And it’s simple – you just aim to approximate the sound of their voice and the way in which they create eye contact.
In general, aim to do as little as is necessary to achieve rapport. You are aiming to be subtle and to create rapport without this process intruding into the person’s conscious awareness.
Note: we strongly recommend that you never, ever, ever match body language such as the person’s posture, gestures, movements, etc. (Was that strong enough??) This mechanical process is too obvious and in most cases will quickly be recognised as a manipulative process – and, rightly, backfire!
2. Develop a genuine interest in them
This is one of the most effective ways of creating rapport. Here rapport occurs because of your genuine interest in their model of the world i.e. in how they experience life.
3. Use the Pegasus NLP 4 Rs
The Pegasus 4 Rs approach is an attitude rather than a technique. It involves aiming to ensure that, in their relationship with us, the other person experiences a sense of
Respect: They feel that they are respected as unique and equal-with-us individuals
Recognition: Their experience is that we are recognising their verbal and their non-verbal communication and appropriately responding to each of these channels
Reassurance: Their relationship, and their interaction, with us is experienced as non-threatening especially at the level of Self Esteem
Responsibility: Their experience of communicating with us is effortless and seamless – because we are acting “responsibly” in that we are varying our means of communicating with them to make it easier for them, should they want to do so, to relate with us.
What works best in rapport?
By all means use Method 1 if you are in the early stages of developing your NLP skills. Or if you are learning the skills via the web or from a book.
As your level of skill increases in using some of the more subtle NLP processes such as recognising and responding to body language, using Soft Eyes, using calibration skills, etc. aim to use Methods 2 and 3 alongside one another.
How to create rapport is one of over 30 skills which we include in our 4-day NLP Core Skills training in the New Forest.
By Reg Connolly, Director of Training, Pegasus NLP