NLP for people who like to think for themselves

The NLP 'matching body language' technique

We’re into Day 2  of the current NLP Core Skills programme. It’s a great group, as always, and as part of today’s schedule we have been exploring NLP and Rapport. And discussing how many NLP books and NLP trainings still offer the ‘matching body language’ technique as a method for creating rapport.

This technique has been around now since NLP began in the early 70s – nearly 40 years ago! Yet, amazingly, some people still believe that it holds true today.

In the ‘matching body language’ technique you copy the other person’s body language. And if they change their body language you copy that, too.

So, for instance in, if I’m sitting with my legs crossed and my arms folded then, in order to create rapport with me, you do the same. If I then unfold my arms, you do the same. If I then scratch my ear, you do the same. And if I know a little bit about NLP I can lead you on a merry dance, endlessly!

Even if I know nothing about NLP I will pretty soon recognise that you’re mimicking me and, most likely, get uncomfortable or annoyed with this.

Not the best way to create rapport.

But, as a few people pointed out in the course today, don’t people who are in rapport tend to match each other’s body language anyway, changing as each other changes???

Yes, of course they do. And that’s the result of their being in rapport. The result of their being in rapport – not a technique they’re using to get into rapport.

Big difference.

But, way back, in the early experimental days of NLP people thought that they could reverse-engineer rapport by taking the results of rapport and using this to create rapport. And, a decade or so later, recognised that it doesn’t work quite that way!

The ‘matching body language’ technique can work, occasionally, but it is very risky and especially so nowadays when so many people know about NLP. There are much better and much more subtle techniques…

..and there’s even an approach to creating and maintaining rapport, which we at Pegasus NLP teach,  that isn’t based on ‘techniques’ but on our attitude towards the other person – which is more respectful and is not manipulative…

1 Comment

  1. SimonRoskrow on 1st April 2009 at 1:23 PM

    As one of the “great group” (thanks Reg!) who were on this course, I’d like to add my two-penneth in…

    I think that the difference between successful, positive mirroring and the negative or manipulative approach is authenticity. Authentic rapport creates the natural mirroring that you see between individuals who have a positive, well-developed and balanced relationship. Inauthentic rapport can work in the short term with some individuals, but certainly not for all of the people, all of the time.

    In terms of using mirroring as a technique, I believe that the route to success is to only use it in an authentic fashion – meaning that it is used not to control the other party, but to genuinely try and develop a balanced relationship rather then a power one. This might mean that you are as content to be led as to lead, entering the dialogue in a truly empathetic way, rather than with the intent of getting your “subject” to where YOU want them to be.