A few months ago, arriving at a client?s office to begin a group meeting, I discovered that two women, who had committed to joining us for a series of meetings, had changed their minds. In less than two minutes, I convinced them to join us. Did I use some sort of magic? You bet I did. Would you like to know that magic?
Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP), a science that studies the language of the mind, breaks down, step-by-step, the strategies humans use to connect with others. Most people believe that we communicate primarily through language and words. Yet, many business people are aware of body language and its importance in interacting with people. Some may be aware of studies that show that language has less influence on others than physiology and tonality. If we want to connect with others, it behooves us to be consciously aware of how we use physiology and tonality as well as how we use words.
Here is the brake down of how we communicate: 7% through words, 38% through tonality, 55% through physiology. It?s clear that if we focus our communication only on words and language, we are missing out on 93% of our resources for communication. NLP teaches that anyone can establish rapport with another person instantaneously. Rapport in NLP is defined differently from its usual definition. Rapport, as NLP views it, is not developing a relationship, although it may lead to relationship. NLP defines rapport as an instant connection with another person, usually taking place at the subconscious level.
When people meet and instantly feel they know each other, or people are instantly comfortable with each other, this is rapport. ?I feel as if I?ve known you for years? is a statement that shows instant rapport.
This kind of rapport happens all the time. People practice rapport unconsciously with friends, family, and new acquaintances. NLP helps us to do consciously and with volition what we do naturally but often unconsciously with the people we know and meet.
This article will sketch out some basic strategies that, if put into practice, can dramatically change a person?s interaction with others and help her to make connections easily. It?s like magic.
Since physiology is the primary way people communicate (55%), everyone should have at least a basic understanding of how to establish rapport on a physical level. Posture, breathing, eye movement, blinking are all possible ways of establishing rapport. There are two ways of creating a connection through physiology: matching and mirroring.
Matching is doing the same thing with your body as someone else is doing with her body. For example, if someone standing in front of you has her head tilt to the right, you would tilt your head to the right. If someone were observing you, she would see your heads tilted in opposite directions.
Mirroring creates a mirror image. If someone has her head tilted right, and you are standing in front of her, you tilt your head to the left. To an observer, your heads would be tilted in the same direction.
Both matching and mirroring should be done subtly, not exaggerated. The idea is to connect, not to be offensive. Most people find it offensive if someone is mimicking them. Don?t do what children do when imitating someone with the intention of annoying. When establishing rapport, the goal is to be natural, smooth, and inconspicuous. Observe people who like each other. People do these things naturally. When people are matching and mirroring each other, they are establishing rapport. They are connecting on an unconscious level.
Go back and read the first paragraph of this article. My magic was simple. I noticed that the women were standing with their shoulders slumped forward and they were leaning toward each other. I matched them and smiled. Magic!
People match and mirror each other all the time. Go to a public place where people are interacting. How do we know that the couple, sitting across from us in a restaurant, are attracted to each other? They are both leaning toward each other; they are making eye contact; they are crossing their legs. If someone were to carefully observe them, there would be numerous ways their physiology matched or mirrored the other. This sends a signal to the other person, ?I?m with you. We are connecting. I?m like you.? It also sends a signal to those who are observing. Have you ever walked into a room and knew the people in the room were having an intimate conversation, and you felt like an intruder? You didn?t hear their words, but you knew instinctively that you interrupted something. You were reading their physiology.
Imagine you are talking with someone, he glances at his watch frequently, doesn?t maintain eye contact, and he isn?t matching or mirroring. He is sending a signal. It?s not one of rapport. More than likely, you?ll cut the conversation short and let him go about his business.
Some people are masters, consciously or unconsciously, of matching and mirroring other people?s physiology. These people are often social, well liked, and popular. But if they are using this skill to manipulate people, they are probably not very popular and are likely to be seen as a fake or phony. This is a powerful tool when used with integrity, but it can backfire if it is used in negative ways.
Mirroring creates a deeper connection than matching. Matching is more subtle and easier to do. If you wish to establish a deeper connection, you might consider matching first and then moving toward mirroring.
Areas to match and mirror: breathing, posture, blinking, hand movement. You can match and mirror more than one aspect of someone?s physiology.
Think specifics. If you match someone?s breathing, ask yourself: where are they breathing? High in the chest? In the middle? Low? Is their breathing deep, shallow, fast, slow? If you want to practice, try doing this with a baby or child who is upset or being hyper. Match her breathing, when you get into sync for a while begin to slow your breathing. If you are in rapport with the child, she will begin to match your breathing. Her breathing will slow, and she will begin to calm down. You have changed her physiology and mood by changing her breathing. Be careful with this one, you might find that parents will begin to call you to babysit.
Hand movements are important to watch. If a person you are talking to doesn?t use hand movements, note that and don?t use hand movements. Doing so could break rapport rather than establish it. If someone does use hand movements, match your movements to hers. Be aware of what the person you are talking to does with her hands and match as closely as you can.
Watch head angles, shoulders, how a person sits. I slouch. One of my best friends sits up very straight. When I?m with him, I notice that I tend to sit up straighter.
Blinking is one of the most subtle ways of getting into rapport with someone. Most people aren?t aware of their blinking patterns. I?ve tried this with people who blink rapidly, and I find it tiring and distracting. I learned something about myself: I don?t blink a lot.
These are a few suggestions. You?ll discover more as you begin to notice other people?s physiology.
Part two explores using tonality and words to create rapport.