NLP & Rapport

What 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 aim 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.

This is why we usuallygravitate towards people that we consider similar to us. so this process of emphasising the similarities between us and another person is really the essential basis for successful communication – if there is no rapport there is no real communication. 

Rapport as a skill rather than a lucky result

We naturally and effortlessly experience rapport with close friends or with peoplewith 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 use this

There are many ways of creating rapport. In three of the most effective to create rapport you:

  1. Subtly match non-verbal communication – especially voice patterns and eye contact patterns
  2. Develop a genuine interest in the other person and in their model of the world.
  3. 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 is the quickest and most useful way to begin. It’s quite simple – you just aim to approximate the sound of their voice and the way in which they create eye contact.

(It’s not necessary to do so but if you really want to make it complicated you can introduce Pacing and Leading into how you create rapport. Here’s how it works.

First you match them i.e. you subtly match their non-verbal behaviour. This is often called ‘Pacing’. After a minute or so of doing this you will probably have established rapport but, in traditional NLP, you now want to verify that you have definitely got rapport.  So you now change your behaviour in some small way in order to see if the, in turn, change theirs. they will normally ddo this within 20 to 50 seconds. If they do this is ‘proof’ that you are in rapport.  And this is called “Leading”.)

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.  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.

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

  1. Respect: They feel that they are respected as unique and equal-with-us individuals
  2. Recognition: Their experience is that we are recognising their verbal and their non-verbal communication and appropriately responding to each of these channels
  3. Reassurance: Their relationship, and their interaction, with us is experienced as unthreatening especially at the level of Self Esteem
  4. 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.


By Reg Connolly, Director of Training, Pegasus NLP


There is more information about NLP here


Why learn NLP

How to learn NLP

Where to learn NLP – and how to choose a training provider

NLP Core Skills – our course in the New Forest

What’s special about Pegasus NLP Trainings

What people have said about our courses

How we integrate NLP with outdoor activities