First Published in Personal Success Magazine, January 1994
RAPPORT - The Magic Ingredient - Part 1
Penny Tompkins and James Lawley
"Rapport is the ability to enter someone else's world,
to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common
bond. It's the ability to go fully from your map of the world to
his map of the world. It's the essence of successful communication."
"No one has ever listened to me before like you do." So said a young
woman -- addicted to drugs, unemployed and about to get thrown out of her
home. Do we have some magical gift that allows us to repeatedly get
responses like this from our clients? No, we simply build such a
deep level of rapport that people truly feel heard and experience a sense
We have found this is a prerequisite for effective communication, whether
in counselling, in our personal lives, in our professional lives ... anywhere,
and with anyone.
By following the simple steps we give below, and will be giving in future
issues, you too can enhance your communication skills dramatically.
Then you will be able to improve the quality of your life, and the
lives of those around you.
If you've been following the articles on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)
in the last few issues of Personal Success, you will remember that NLP
began with the study of excellent communicators.
What is the difference that makes the difference in feeling comfortable
and acknowledged by someone, even if they are disagreeing with what you
say? How is it that some people you meet you instantly like -- while
others you can't get away from fast enough? Why can you talk to some
people for hours and it seems like minutes?
The answer to all of these questions is RAPPORT -- A foundation stone
of NLP, and the most important process in any communication. When
people are communicating in rapport they find it easy to be understood
and believe their concerns are highly regarded by the other person.
Rapport means responsiveness to what another is saying; not that you necessarily
agree with what is being said. And when you are in rapport
something magical happens. You and others feel listened to, and heard.
At an unconscious level, there is a comfortable feeling of 'This person
thinks like I do, I can relax.'
True rapport creates an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust.
If you are using rapport as a tactic to manipulate another to your way
of thinking, at some level they instinctively know it and they will
not respond positively. However, if you have mastered the art of
rapport and your intention is to hear and be heard, to achieve win-win
solutions or create genuine friendships, you will become a powerful
and trusted communicator.
People are often naturally in rapport. Have you ever noticed
how some couples in restaurants are so in tune with each other that their
bodies move together as if dancing? Watch children playing,
observe interactions at meetings, notice mates in the pub. See and
hear how the effect of two people moving together produces positive results
in their communication. Also notice how the quality of interaction
changes to miscommunication when their physiology doesn't match and they
are out of sync with one another.
So how can we consciously improve our own rapport skills? We can
begin by learning a process called 'mirroring' -- which is learning to
duplicate another's behaviours. Behaviours you can mirror include:
Movement of Feet
Mirroring is physically 'copying' the behaviours of another in a subtle
manner. Try mirroring just one aspect of another person's behaviour
while talking to them--perhaps their posture. When this is easy,
gently include another piece, like their hand gestures. Gradually
add another and another until you are mirroring without thinking about
it. The more you practice, the easier it will become. You also
will be rewarded with the same comfortable, positive response in YOURSELF
that you are creating for another.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
The more you practice, the more you will become aware of the different
rhythms, gestures, breathing patterns that you and others have. It
is fascinating to enter another person's "map of the world" by mirroring
their behaviour. You can learn so much more about them this way.
Be sure to be subtle in mirroring when establishing rapport. If the
other person is making grand, sweeping gestures, you may choose to make
similar, but smaller, less obvious movements. In the beginning it
may feel awkward. But the value in learning to achieve and maintain
rapport is worth the time and effort it takes to become skilled in this
area of communication.
And you might be surprised to discover that your 'intuition' will be enhanced
as you become aware of behaviours and actions of which you were previously
Mirroring is something we automatically do when we're around people we
feel comfortable with. To learn to mirror purposely in order to gain
rapport enables us to enhance our communication with others and have
the support of everyone we meet to help us achieve our outcomes and goals.
If you have the slightest doubt whether mirroring really works...
test it. Pick three people with whom you want better communication
and mirror them for just 10 minutes. Notice the difference it makes.
We invite you to write in and tell us of your experience. And let
us know if it's ok to publish your comments.
Next month in Personal Sucess we will continue with part
2 of Rapport - The Magic Ingrediant and in future issues other exciting
aspects of NLP will be revealed. Practice these NLP tips and techniques
and your 'personal success' will be guaranteed!