Rapport is a cornerstone that applies to almost everything in our personal and business lives on all levels, as it enables us to create and maintain a connection with others and subsequently build more meaningful relationships.

Establishing good rapport reduces barriers to communication, which in turn makes communication more effective. As an effective communicator, one has more control over their relationships and the outcome.

Rapport is an essential interpersonal communication skill that enables people to get along with others. Often in business we require this sort of interaction, be it managing or depending upon people; therefore, good rapport allows for an effective exchange of thoughts and ideas across a variety of areas including: selling, negotiating, influencing, delegating, presenting, interviewing or any other ongoing relationship.

Rapport is a technique that is used for creating a relationship of responsiveness and opening up channels of communication with others; it helps us to connect.

When good rapport is present, people are more open to listening to what is being said and subsequently there are fewer objections. It is a reciprocal exchange of responsiveness between people i.e. person A fully responds to person B and likewise, person B fully responds to person A – it is not an asymmetrical verbal relationship.

People generally refer to rapport as having ‘a connection’, there being a ‘spark’ or ‘chemistry’, which is created by a feeling of commonality and being at ease.

If we can get others to experience these feelings during communication, we are more likely to evoke a sense of trust which for obvious reasons is purposeful across all aspects of business.

Communication

Research tells us that most communication comes at an unconscious level whereby communication is more than the words that we speak. In other words, it is both verbal and non-verbal. At any time we are communicating more via non-verbal communication than we are through the use of words.

Approximately 7% of communication comes from the words spoken; 38 is via tonality and 55% via physiology/body language. Often our physiology can express something entirely different to the words being said. If words are congruent with physiology then we are more likely to notice/focus on what is being said.

If words are incongruent with physiology then we most notice body language and are less likely to pick up on what is actually being said. We are able to pinpoint congruence and incongruence via sensory acuity. All in all, the bulk of what is communicated to others comes from the physiology; the second biggest portion comes from tonality and lastly the smallest portion being from the the words that are said.

The reason for this is because physiology and tonality are a function of unconscious behaviour and the bulk of communication is directed by the unconscious mind.

Influence

Much rapport takes place unconsciously and so the goal is to influence the subconscious mind which can be done via a variety of techniques such as: matching and mirroring someone’s physiology, mannerisms, posture, gestures, facial expressions, tonality, physical touch, volume, tempo, thinking style/sensory preference, proximity, breathing, values and experiences can all help to establish rapport.

People like people who are like themselves or are like how they want to be/admire/aspire to and so if we can match the majority of where communication comes from, then we are able to establish a level of rapport on an unconscious level.

If you ever pay attention to two people who appear to be in total rapport, you will notice that they imitate one another’s behaviours without realising it.

For example, ever noticed when walking and talking to someone you are deeply engaged with in conversation, the rhythm of your stride matches theirs/theirs yours and you both end up in sync with the other?

Likewise, when two people are deeply engrossed in dialogue with one another, they unconsciously match and mirror each other’s behaviour i.e. both reach for the glass at the table in unison, both lean forward/sit back at the same time or perform some other gesture simultaneously.

About the author

Gavin Rubinstein has 20 years commercial partnerships experience and is a qualified business rapport coach, rapport based NLP practitioner and relationship management specialist. He is also a qualified cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and hypnotherapist.

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