Building Rapport

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What is needed to create a climate of RAPPORT?

Rapport is one of the most important elements in effective communication Good communication stems from good rapport and appreciating the unique reality of each person. Rapport at its simplest is the ability to influence, and the openness to be influenced, on many different levels. Rapport builds relationships. The better the relationship the easier the task. By building rapport you can quickly build trust and understanding. Rapport may exist naturally in some situations and with some people. When it doesn’t it requires skill to generate it. We are far more likely to agree to decisions with someone we have rapport with.

The ability to take on the same communication style as someone else is known as matching. There are four main things that can be mirrored/matched : body language, voice quality, verbal language and beliefs and values. Among the things that can be matched (but not mimicked) include: posture, movement and gestures, breathing, eye movements, voice tone and quality, language patterns and key words, beliefs and values. We can observe and match these things to build rapport. This process is called calibration, it works from the premise that the mind and body are an integrated system. What occurs in one part of the whole will affect all the other parts. As well we can read how successful or otherwise our communication is by observing these things in the other person as they respond to us. Once we are able to read these cues we need the flexibility to keep changing what we do or say until we get the results we want. This is called pacing.

Pacing is another skill in rapport building. As you observe and match you are then able to adjust your whole body and pace the other person to a better and better levels of rapport and thus lead towards the outcomes/purpose of your communication. Matching, pacing and leading are tools to create rapport and influence the outcomes of the communication.

Matching, mirroring and pacing values. Respecting and pacing values is a way of building a deep level of rapport. The more your develop your sensory acuity – your awareness to notice even the smallest of changes in the person with whom you are dealing, the more you will begin to be able to determine when their state changes related to core values held by that person, such as fairness, value for money, security, being on time etc.. Eventually you will be able to calibrate signs that indicate you are moving towards or away from values held and match them in you communication.

A word though – rapport is not the simple application of a series of technique. You can learn techniques much like a mechanic learns to tune a car and become a very skillful mechanic, but unless you have a good intent to build a mutual relationship with the other person – and this includes yourself being “in” the relationship, your authenticity will be challenged. Others may also notice that you may at times appear absent or disconnected even though you are working at building a connection. Remember “ground hog day” – rapport building is not data mining. At times your own vulnerability or ability to be influenced by others will say more than your words can convey.


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