Building Rapport

The first lesson of my NLP seminar with John Seymour was entitled Building Rapport. In any human interactions, building and maintaining Rapport is the first action. To be able to exchange or converse with an interlocutor in the best way, one has to develop excellent communication skills. Is it more important to be a good sender of information or receiver? It is just as critical to listen as to speak. Is there an art to being a good listener? Yes. Does it come naturally? I think not. In fact, research indicates that we hear half of what is said, listen to half of what we hear, understand half of it, believe half of that, and remember only half of that.

Patti Hathaway in her book “the change Agent” quotes an old Chinese proverb: “From listening comes wisdom and from speaking repentance.” Her writings inspired me in this blog.

How important are the nonverbal aspects compared to the actual words we use when communicating? Your words are about 7 percent of your communication, tone of voice 38 percent, and body language about 55 percent, and yet, most communication training centers on the use of words.

Often we fake attention because our thought-to-speech ratio. We can think five times faster that the other person talking. Now you can do something productive with that extra lag time in your thought-to-speech ratio.

Tom Peters notes: “Good listeners get out from behind their desk to where the customers are.” Do you give your full attention to the people who talk to you? If not, learn a powerful, technique that will improve your listening and help you gain rapport with anyone you meet. This technique comes from the science of neuro linguistics programming, developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. By incorporating NLP into the way we work with people, we can “read” people more sensitively, establish a positive relationship more quickly, and respond to them more effectively.

NLP offers a myriad of techniques to improve our ablities to become a better communicator. Mirroring is one example. We tend to like people who are like us. If we look like someone (and 93 percent of who that person is, is nonverbal), they will subconsciously say to themselves, “I like this person. They are just like me.” And, if we like someone, we trust them and want to do business with them. Think about the potential this has for promotions, building business, and building relationships and friendships.

Specifically, this is how you mirror: First, match the other person’s voice tone or tempo. If they talk fast, you talk fast. If they talk slowly, you talk slowly. When I speak in New York, I can’t speak quickly enough. If I’m in southern Texas, I slow my pace down to match their pace. One way to help you match the other person’s tempo is to match the other person’s breathing rate. Pace yourself to it. Match the other person’s body movements, posture, and gestures. If the person you’re mirroring crosses his or her legs, you cross your legs. If the other person gestures, you gesture. Of course, subtlety is everything. You may want to wait several seconds before moving.

The process of mirroring is natural. You do it naturally with people you like and have built rapport with.


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