Rapport 101: How to Build Rapport with NLP

Rapport: "relation; connection, esp. harmonious or sympathetic relation." (dictionary.com)

"She's givin' me good vibrations..." The Beach Boys

Have you wondered why some people have "charisma," they just seem to build rapport quickly with people, and keep that rapport over time?

What is this quality called charisma, really?

A friend of mine emailed me recently, he told me how he used NLP to effectively connect with people in a business setting.

"In my role I had to build relationships quickly with VP and C level people that did not have much time. So building rapport quickly and figuring out what made them tick was crucial i.e if they were visual, auditory digital etc”

Ok, that's replete with NLP jargon. Let me tell you what it means, how it works.

First the basics of connection:

  • Have a congruent intent of creating rapport. Ask yourself, "How can I genuinely connect with this person?" and "What would it feel like if this person was a good friend?"
    • The behaviors and the unconscious signals that you send out from this thinking will help create rapport.
  • Find something that you like about them. Allow the positive feelings to arise. Your emotional state is sensed by the other person.
  • Use eye contact. Most people feel more rapport when eye contact is fairly regular.
  • Talk about similar interests.
  • Imagine what it is like to perceive the word like the other person. What would it be like to "walk a mile in their shoes?"

Now the NLP techniques:

  • *Note: When using NLP techniques, remember to keep what you do appropriate to the situation. Your best guide is in being congruent in your intent to create genuine rapport.
    • Match and mirror their body posture. Are they sitting at the edge of their chair? Are they relaxed back with their hands folded? Be careful not to "mimic" or be too obvious. When people are in rapport matching and mirroring is normal.
    • Match and mirror facial expressions, gestures and breathing. Matching breathing is very powerful.
  • Cross over mirroring. Say they are tapping their foot, tap a finger on the table to the same beat.
  • Notice their voice, its tone (high or low pitched), tempo (the beat of the words and phrases), and timbre (a clear or raspy sound). Match those elements in a way that is natural for your own voice.
  • Notice "keywords." Do they say anything a bit out of the ordinary? If its not too much of a stretch, use their keywords at appropriate times.
  • Representational systems. This is a very detailed topic, but in short, be aware of the words they use to describe their experiences. Do they use mostly visual, auditory or word that imply thinking (audio digital)? Visual: "That looked great." Auditory: "I like the sound of that." Audio Digital: "I considered your proposal." If you notice they use a particular "representational system," use phrases to communicate in a similar manner.

Rapport is not about getting the better of someone, quite the contrary, it is about creating win-win situations. By creating rapport you set the stage for mutual benefit, mutual caring and a positive outcome for all concerned. By adding the NLP techniques to the basics of rapport, the other person will usually feel more at ease and more open to your suggestions because they sense that you are similar to them. We all feel closer to those who seem to be like us in some way or another.

What three ways can you think of applying rapport during your day tomorrow? Lemme know in the comments below.

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