Rapport is certainly one of the most over-marketed words especially in sales and communication training. But the hard truth is that it really does matter because without it, your message is not going to get across well. The trouble is that rapport can be lost just as easily as it is create it. Rapport isn’t just a fancy word with an ON/OFF switch. It takes a certain level of skill to build and even more to maintain. Because at any point in time, you may lose that rapport and rebuilding it again can prove challenging.
In our previous article, we described some easy steps to use in building rapport. It’s called building rapport because while easy enough, the more skill you have, the easier it gets. Of course, learning that is better achieved through practical application. Remember rapport is that sense of connection – A combination of a subconscious trust and familiarity with others. So when we lose that connection, it can feel very uncomfortable for some, making the rebuilding process more difficult.
What You’ll Need First
Let’s start by understanding that when you’re not in rapport, it becomes painfully obvious because you will find more resistance. That’s a sure sign that you need to stop pushing your way through and rebuild. Trying to force rebuilding from that situation of lost or broken rapport is often counter-productive. Having a finer sense of observation, understanding of social tact, and communication excellence will be handy to create an opportunity. Other NLP’s skills like Re-Framing, Meta Programs, and the Milton and Meta model skills are especially helpful. Remember, if there’s no opportunity or willingness to continue, there’s really nothing worth communicating because it won’t be received as well.
Pacing Before Leading
Too often when we realise we have lost rapport, we are too eager to gain it back. But before you get impatient and try to immediately force rebuilding rapport out of desperation, stop yourself and notice what people are doing and saying. Observe what you can pace and be patient about it. If you force your point, even if you are trying to correct any misunderstanding on their side, you risk opening the gap even further. Remember that you already lack the connection so there will definitely be resistance, even if the correction is warranted. Pace until you have rebuilt at least some rapport. Remember what your objective is here – Is it to say what you have to say, or are you working towards a stronger relationship? Makes sense, right?
When rapport is lost, people are less likely to trust you again in because the subconscious protects to be aware of perceived danger (so as not to be hurt again). So simply repeating the steps taught to achieve unconscious rapport has a lower likelihood to succeed. One of the basic presuppositions of NLP is that “The meaning of the communication is the response you get”. This implies communication or miscommunications, are to a certain degree partly your responsibility to get better. This sharpens the way you think and reflect upon the way you have previously communicated and adjust accordingly. Any misunderstandings have to be clarified otherwise the relationship going forward will struggle.
Let’s translate this broken rapport into an organizational setting. Broken rapport blocks the opportunities of potentially good ideas that could impact productivity and safety, (such as misconduct or fraud). It’s a reflection of the level of trust (or lack of) within that organization. Imagine if you had an important report and proposal to reduce the risks for internal fraud, but your bosses dismissed it simply because you were late to an earlier meeting and you just kept quiet. The effects of this in the larger context of communication problems may seem trivial, but is one of the most common reasons why organizations develop a toxic culture and problems with communication down the line. Furthermore, the other consequences of that example is that, the main issue is still not being addressed because of some unrepaired rapport.
Remember that “Resistance is a lack of rapport”. If you are meeting resistance where you once had rapport, it is time for you to reflect where you lost it and work towards rebuilding some connections. In a way, it’s a good wake up call too because being too much in rapport can blind you from being alert to possible errors in judgment.
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