One of the key skills taught as part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the use of rapport. You know when you click with someone, you’re in rapport. You’re both listening and communicating in an honest, straightforward way. Rapport leads to trust.

There are many shades of rapport - from almost complete rapport where both individuals appear to be able to read each others thoughts and feelings intuitively, to a tacit determination by both parties not to get in to rapport under any circumstances. And rapport flows. Sometimes are level of rapport with a particular individual are high, sometimes they are low.

You might want to get into strong rapport with an individual if you want to communicate better with them, or if you want to learn from them, a little bit like we intuitively learned as children from parents and role models. In addition, if you’re in rapport with someone they will generally assume that you understand them.

In an NLP intervention it’s key to have a high level of rapport and respect when you’re eliciting your client’s current situation. You want them to express their situation in a totally honest and direct way, which may be difficult for them unless you have a high level of rapport and trust.

You might want to break rapport because someone is trying to influence you in a way that you don’t want to be influenced, including someone trying to sell you product or ideas you don’t want. You might also want to break rapport because someone is getting too close to you, they are finding about more about you than you want to share at that particular moment of time.

Being able to make and break rapport are both very useful skills.

Rapport principles:

1) People generally like people like themselves

If you want to aid the rapport process focus on what you have in common with your client; your similarities not your differences. In addition, if you demonstrate similar beliefs and values to your client and talk about what’s important to them they are likely to be drawn into rapport to you.

From an NLP perspective if you ensure that there is some similarity in your body posture, which may be simple as the angle of your arms, that you are speaking at the same speed, and that you are occasionally using their words, you will encourage rapport.

If you want to break rapport focus on difference.

2) People can learn from people that are different

Learning and rapport are not always the same. We often learn more from people who are different to us.

When we want to increase rapport it’s best to occasionally use our clients words. Our clients may not have the same meaning and emotion attached to the words we use as we do.

However when we want to check understanding it’s best to use our words and then check our own clients interpretation. That’s the reason that we often need to go through a storming phase before we reach agreement. We have to be honest about our differences.

3) Don’t assume people want to learn

If you don’t know someone it’s normally better to go for rapport first and learning second. Demonstrate that you understand them first before expecting them to understand you.

4) Some people compartmentalize their lives

Many people have a different value and belief set at work and at home, in this case decide whether to get into rapport with their ‘work’ or ‘home’ selves. Focusing on ‘home’ if you’re after business may be totally counterproductive. If you want business focus on getting rapport with their ‘business’ selves.

One of the advantages of the NLP approach of similarity of body posture, words, speed of speech is that it’s less context specific and applies to most situations.

5) Some alpha males, leaders, seducers and bullies work to different rules

Charismatic individuals tend to use making and breaking rapport to lead others to want to get into rapport with them, which can be a very powerful form of influence. You will be equally influential if if you consciously make your own choice to get into rapport with them or not. And remember, you always have the opportunity of bullying a bully back. He is likely to respect you more.

6) It’s difficult to fake

Rapport is a natural process which you can speed up or slow down, it’s difficult to fake. If you’re not natural it will break rapport. If you’re going to focus on what you have in common, focus on what you genuinely believe or are interested in.

Good NLP training will enable you to explore, develop and and practice these concepts and find out what works for you in a given context.

Tips for achieving rapport

Paying attention to any one of these is likely to increase rapport

1) Ensure you get an initial Yes response

Make sure the first things you say get an initial Yes response, either verbally of physically. In a way you’re training your client to say Yes to you. At least make sure you’re not training your client to say No to you!

The easiest way to do this to to say something that is true or good from your clients perspective.

2) Talk about what’s important to your client

If you talk about what’s important to your client and they will get into rapport with you. If you don’t know what’s important to them ask! Don’t assume.

3) Pay attention without judging. Look and listen

The NLP approaches of ensuring similarity in your body posture, speaking at the same speed, and that you are occasionally using their words, are very powerful. This happens naturally when you focus your full attention on your client, listening and watching to what they say and looking at how they react, without judging them. Sometimes it takes courage to listen!

4) Mentally rehearse

Spend 10 to 20 seconds imagining a meeting going well from your perspective, notice what you see, hear and feel. Spend 10 to 20 seconds imagining that you actually are your client. What would they see, hear and feel if the meeting went well? Trust yourself that just by doing this exercise you’ll improve your performance.

5) Assume you already have rapport

And sometimes the most powerful way of achieving rapport is just to assume that you already have it. This often sets the frame to achieve it.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Beale is one of the UK's leading NLP Trainers and Business Coaches. For further details see Michael's website on NLP Training and NLP Techniques.