In many communication courses, you will hear a lot about the power of rapport. Rapport is described as a feeling of connection between people that enables someone to engage, build trust, and even charm. It is said that when you have rapport, it is possible to have the entire assembly of United Nations intently listening to every word you speak and likely to change opinions about their beliefs. Conversely without it, you wouldn’t even be able to get your best friend to listen to you for 30 seconds! There is a saying in NLP, ‘without rapport, there is no communication’; at least, not any useful kind of communication.
To build rapport, most of the sales seminars and get rich books tell you to copy and imitate the physiology, such as posture, position, and even verbal style of the person you are speaking with. These are highly unconscious behavior which people aren’t aware of but noticeable if you know what to look for. It’s called ‘matching’ and ‘mirroring’ and in essence, the idea is that by copying the person’s behaviour, you can unconsciously create that feeling of connection in the other person. In some cases, this is already enough to develop that sense of rapport.
Is Rapport ‘bulletproof’?
The real question is, does these techniques always work? Well, no because it isn’t enough to just play the ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ game with anyone you want to build rapport with. If all you had to do to build rapport is imitate, why isn’t everyone in love with monkeys? Seriously speaking, why is it that some people still get upset even when you do what they do? Moreover, how useful is it to imitate someone who is angry and screaming at you?
The Mirror Effect
Recent scientific discoveries confirm that there is a part in your brain that gets stimulated whenever you do a certain behaviour and surprisingly, even when you observe behavior. It’s called the ‘mirror neuron’, and besides copy and imitate behavior, it also allows us to copy emotions to simulate what other people might be feeling. It’s why we think we ‘feel’ pain when we see someone is hurt or ‘feel’ happiness when people smile, even when we are only observing it in someone else. Now, why is this important? Your mind and body are unconsciously copying and mirroring what it observes around you. And this is also true of others you are building rapport with. So when you see that person is in a negative state, your brain mimicking their negative states outside of your conscious awareness. Here’s where this information gets really cool because when they notice you showing that negative state, which you originally copied from them, their state grows even more negative. Only this time, they will most likely notice there is now a stronger feeling…and the first thing they notice is your face!
I’m Not Angry
A classic example of this in the real world would be if you see your spouse was really annoyed about something, and you innocently ask, “Why do you look so angry?” You suddenly get a strong defensive response like, “I’m not angry!” Now, the typical response is to raise your volume to match their replying, “Well, you are now!!” And within a matter of seconds, a harmless query escalates into a heated argument where both are beautifully matching and mirroring each other’s negative state, facial expressions, volume, etc. This becomes like the phenomenon of two mirrors reflecting endlessly at each other, except neither one remembers how they originally felt negative or why towards each other; only that they are currently feeling that way.
You might get away with those tricks of matching or mirroring once or twice but it falls apart quickly because human beings recognize cookie cutter responses and it’s called a ‘bullshit detector’. Perhaps the best way to start learning about how to create real rapport, and also protect yourself from those snake oil salespeople is by becoming more aware of your own behaviours and patterns first. In next month’s issue, I will reveal some insider tips about establishing authentic and applicable rapport.
For other useful tips and other life changing ideas, please read our other blogs and learn the #AuthenticNLP™ with NaviGo® NLP Center.