Rapport

Rapport is the exchange of communication between two or more people. It is like a table tennis match with the ball going back and forth between two or more players. In good communications the ball is in play. When the communication breaks down, the ball is no longer in play and rapport has been broken. Without rapport there is no communication.

Eye contact

Good eye contact is important in confident, face-to-face communications. People trust people who are able to maintain good eye contact. People distrust people who have poor eye contact that makes them appear as if they are hiding something, are deceitful, unsure or potentially tricky.

You have a whole host of muscles in your face and they all work in coordination with your level of eye contact. All the different face muscles working together give micro communications to the other person as you are using your eyes to initiate, maintain and break communications.
Therefore eye contact works in coordination with messages given by your facial muscle formations.

You open a communication by initiating eye contact and close a communication by breaking eye contact. There are certain codes of length of time of eye contact that exist in each culture. Too long a period of eye contact can be overbearing and may be offensive and too short may be insufficient to put across a good communication.

In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures women keep very short eye contact but in the Western world it can be much longer and sustained. So in judging the correct length of eye contact you need to learn some social rules of that culture and observe communications from that culture.

The contact between two men is different than between two women and again it is culturally based. Too long an eye contact between two men can be perceived as a challenge or a sexual advance. The eye contact between two women is generally longer because women generally find other women less challenging.

The eye contact between a man and woman can again, if too long, be interpreted as a sexual advance.

If, in a communication, you become aware the eye contact may be an indication of a sexual advance, you break the eye contact for a few seconds and then look back and keep breaking the eye contact, which is an indication you are not interested.

Exercise: Eye contact observation

1. Take the time to do this research and learn to observe people.

2. Sit yourself in a café or restaurant run by people from different cultures and simply watch people’s communications for a whole hour.

3. Be a fly on the wall at a party. Sit to one side. Observe people interacting and sometimes flirting with each other.

4. Go to a car sales room and watch the sales person trying to sell cars, noting their level of eye contact.

5. Constantly observe other people’s communications and their eye language. You need this skill to be a good communicator.

Know your body language

I cannot emphasise this enough. For you to be a good, confident communicator you need to be consciously aware of body language. There is no other way than reading about and studying body language to get you to that point. Skimming through a book and then forgetting what you read will not give you what you need.

As a communicator I am constantly watching other people’s body language. In a one to one or more communication I am constantly watching the other person or people to see what they are experiencing. Since body language is more than 60% of all communication, it cannot be left to chance and not to pay attention to it in a communication would be negligent.

If a person’s body language is not congruent with what they are saying, you need to ask for clarity because you will be getting an incomplete and corrupted communication. The person may not even know that their communication is incongruent but you need to be able to observe that from your own perspective. If you part with an incongruent communication still happening, rapport has been broken and whatever you communicated about will not produce true results.

Exercise: Body language know-how

1. Read at least three books on body language.

2. Practice your body language cues in front of the mirror.

3. Sit in a café and watch the body language communications between the diners.

4. Become a fly on the wall and watch other people’s body language.

5. Try to assess if what they are saying is matching their body language.

6. Practice your body language so that what you are saying is matching the body language you are displaying. Check for your own incongruencies.

Communication styles

Most people use three of the five sensory systems as a predominate verbal means of communication: visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

Visual people (V): “Wow, dinner looks fantastic. I love the way you’ve arranged the red cabbage next to the yellow peppers with pine nuts. It looks great.”

Auditory (A): “Wow, I heard you clattering around in the kitchen. Tell me, what have you made?”

Kinesthetic (K): “Wow, I’m so hungry. My stomach thinks my throat has been cut. I can’t wait to fill myself up with your lovely food.”

While people do add descriptive sensory words from the gustatory (taste) and olfactory (smell) system, they tend to stick mainly to V, A or K.

Write down some of your sentences (or record a conversation) and try and work out what is your main communication system.

Matching people’s primary communication style
To be in empathy with the person you are communicating with, you can find out, by listening, what their primary system of communication might be. Are they V, A or K?

Empathy is a conjoint communication where each person feels comfortable with the other. To promote empathy you might try starting to use the other person’s main language for communication, matching them to being either V, A or K. You are speaking their language and increasing rapport.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND is a registered clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist, counsellor, sex therapist and naturopath with more than 30 years’ experience helping people create positive change in their lives. Visit her website www.doctorok.com for more information and to access her range of downloadable hypnosis products to help you achieve fast, effective behavioural change.