It was the first quarter of the year, and we had an annual corporate event. Colleagues from all the departments were present all decked up, so am I. It was my very first event since I joined a month back. We all know the feeling of walking into a room full of friendly faces, each seems to be kind and willing to talk and then there are people like me, the ambiverts who take time to open up and once first ice break happens, comfort slips in, and there’s no looking back.
But here is the thing, how do we get someone to talk to you first or rather attract someone to make meaningful and long-lasting rapport?
We have heard of a lot of tips when it comes to attracting people towards you like “Always dress to kill”, “Smile more”, “Be cheerful, and so on. That’s about physical attraction. Usually, it takes 90 seconds for an individual to get attracted to someone “PHYSICALLY”. There are chances that this attraction might not last long and eventually fade away. It is said that “Good looks attract the eyes. Personality attracts the heart”.
So with that being said, let’s look at some of the NLP techniques that comes to our rescue:
Have you ever noticed a group of besties or couple tend to act or sound alike? We usually describe their bond as “chemistry” or “vibes”, but there’s more to it than just the chemistry. Let me help you with an example. Why do we get scared of insects or other creatures or for that matter a stranger? The point is, the more different something/someone is from ourselves, the more we fear it. This goes for anything – cultures, races, religions, species; it doesn’t matter. This is why mirroring is so effective; it is the art of making yourself more similar to your chosen person. On an unconscious level, this builds trust and rapport. How do we mirror someone?
2. VAK Modalities:
Have you ever felt that there’s someone in your life that you just can’t communicate, or get through this person? Or, maybe you have a particular person in your life who understands you, and visa-verse. You just get each other. This is most likely because of your NLP VAK modalities. If you’re lucky, this person is your significant other. Either way, it probably has a lot to do with how you and the other process information. NLP VAK modalities can shine some understanding of how connecting works. There are three ways of processing information: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.
Now the question is how to use this to create a rapport? When we ‘speak the same language’, we have a more solid foundation on which to build trust. For example, a client may say to you, “I like the look of the contract. The bottom line is clear, and your plan is focused.” You might reply with something like, “I’m glad that I was able to paint a clear picture of the project; let’s see how we can work together toward a common vision for the work.” The underlying system of communication is overwhelmingly visible…. see what I mean?
People integrate these predicates into their sentences, and if you detect them, you can incorporate similar words into your dialogue. The result leads to a stronger connection by communicating in a way that is most familiar and comfortable to the people.
3.Pacing and Leading:
Pacing involves matching elements of another person’s body language and speech to improve rapport and your own understanding of the person. Pacing is not mirroring, because you are not simply imitating the person. Rather, you are integrating various elements of their style into your own. For example, if you use the person’s vocabulary grade level, the person will feel more at ease with you. But if you fake their accent, you will offend them. Pacing could be compared with method acting, in which the actor enters another person’s reality like our beloved Heath Ledger who got into the skin of the character ‘Joker’ or highly energetic Ranveer Singh for playing the role of Allaudin Khilji in ‘Padmavat’. This takes pacing to a higher level, in which you are able to embrace the other person’s frame of reference.
Pace by building rapport/matching or mirroring, and then lead them somewhere else/into another state – a positive one. Only match positive body language, or match negative postures, but then gradually/subtly change to positive ones. For example, from crossed arms to open, literally making them more emotionally open and comfortable. Match negatives by sharing resentments you have in common, e.g. “Yeah, I hate that too” etc. and then lead out of by saying “but… “
Building rapport is about pacing another person’s reality so that they get the sense that you are with them. If you’re able to hold this space for another person where they get the experience that they are with someone who truly understands them, then you have a depth of rapport. From this open, connective space, you can facilitate real change.
Before doing that, you can test if you have rapport. Matching and mirroring the other person and then mismatching them and see if they follow. Some examples are:
If they follow you and begin matching and mirroring you, then you know you’re in rapport.
To wrap things up, on an average, we live for 71 years, and we remember people we meet after the age of 5 (Mostly). Let’s say we interact with at least 3 new people daily, considering 365 days. So in total, we meet around 70000 people (approx.) It is normal to come across people that you don’t naturally connect with. Knowing how a person communicates or processes information can make things a bit easier, especially if this person is someone with whom you must communicate with on a regular basis, such as your boss or coworker.
Above techniques, if practiced with intention and respect, can enhance our communication with others and achieve greater levels of success in our personal and professional relationships.
“Be Interested & Interesting. People will be more interested in you when you are interested in them. If you want to impress, talk to them about . . . them.” ― Susan C. Young