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!
First Published in PERSONAL SUCCESS Magazine - February 1994
RAPPORT - The Magic Ingredient - Part 2"
Penny Tompkins and James Lawley
"You don't want customers...you want RAVING FANS!!!"
One of our students at City University had been trying to change jobs for
a few years. After learning some basic rapport skills such as mirroring
and matching, and using these at interviews, he was at last successful
in landing a brilliant position in The City. In practising her rapport
skills in interview situations, another student has become a television
Anthony Robbins is a master of rapport's matching and mirroring skills.
These skills have become so natural he does not even need to think about
'doing' them. They are automatic. And I believe he used these
exact skills in his two-hour audience with Princess Diana on his recent
visit to England!
"Personal Success" readers are also taking advantage of NLP tips and exercises
and learning new and powerful communication skills, and are changing their
lives for the better as a result.
What about you? Are you ready to try something new and make those
In last month's issue, Rapport - The Magic Ingediant
- Part 1, we introduced mirroring. Mirroring is physically 'copying'
the behaviour of another person, as if reflecting their movements back
to them. This is done with respect and subtlety. At an unconscious
level the person with whom you are communicating in this way feels acknowledged
and appreciates your interest in them. You are pacing that person's
experience, and although they may be unaware of your mirroring, it will
still have a profound effect.
Mirroring done with integrity and respect creates positive feelings and
responses in you and others. Otherwise, mirroring becomes mimicry
and has negative consequences. So as you learn the following additional
rapport skills, remember the powerful effect you create must be based on
honourable values and principles.
One basic difference between mirroring and matching is timing. While
mirroring is simultaneous with the other person's movements, matching can
sometimes have a 'time delay' factor to it. For example, if someone is
gesturing while talking and making a point, you can be still and attending.
When it is your turn to speak, you can make your comments and your point
using the same, or similar gestures.
There are other types of matching:
CROSS-OVER MATCHING is choosing to match one of your behaviours
to a corresponding, but different movement of another.
You will find you hear and observe other people in more detail as you learn
these basic rapport skills. Paying attention to others in this way
is a process of building trust, and the more elegantly you mirror, match
and cross-over match, the more your customers will turn into "raving fans."
For example, if a person is blinking rapidly, you may cross-over match
by discreetly tapping your finger at the same rate as they are blinking;
or pace the rhythm of someone's speaking with slight nods of your head
or your breathing.
MISMATCHING is also a useful skill to master. Have you ever
had someone go on and on and on when having a conversation with them...when
you wonder if they will ever stop talking?
You can break eye contact, turn your body at an angle to them, breathe
faster or slower in contrast to their breathing...in short, do anything
to break rapport by mismatching. You will be surprised how quickly
and easily the conversation will draw to a close.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
When speaking to family members or business colleagues, find a specific
behaviour or movement to focus on and match or cross-over match.
You might select one behaviour per day to practice until you can build
a whole repertoire of rapport skills.
Use your hand movement to pace another persons breathing.
Move your foot to pace another person's head movements.
Tilt your shoulders slightly as the other person tilts their head.
Lift a finger as the other person lifts an eye-brow.
And feel free to create your own cross-over matching techniques! Also remember
to practice mismatching, but be sure to end the interaction in a state
COMPULSIVE MATCHING AND MIRRORING
Some people feel they just have to match and mirror.
A young woman who matched and mirrored constantly was sitting across from
a colleague who was tired of being mimicked. The colleague slid down
in his chair, and of course she did the same. Then the colleague
slid down even farther. She did the same. Finally, one slide
too many, and the woman literally fell on the floor! Her colleague,
conscious of his mirroring, remained in his chair.
Notice the difference these rapport skills will have in your life.
Whether the context is flirting, interviewing, selling, or being granted
an audience with a princess, you can make the choice to improve your communication
skills using NLP. Next month we introduce you to "I
See, Hear and Feel What You Mean: Representational Systems."