I'm just starting out on my NLP journey with The Coaching Academy. It is bringing me a welcomed approach to help me to process my understanding of myself and others as I launch my own practice.
One of the fundamentals of any high functioning relationship - whether at home, as parents or within work is effective communication - we all know that right? So what's astounding to learn is how rubbish we are at it sometimes! We are ALL human, we will all be off our game every now and then, and that's ok. Recognising why, being more self aware, or even 'just' self aware, helps us shape our connections and relationships and how we communicate with others to be more effective.
What is rapport?
Fundamentally, rapport is a natural 'thing'. It is something we can all do, or have. Some of us are naturally 'better' than others at building it, and some of us are naturally 'better' at destroying it (I can sense the many nods around the room!) - and as I said at the start, I am at the beginning of my journey into this model and approach of coaching and development, so these are my initial musings.
So, how do you get it? How do we replicate what seemingly comes more naturally to others than us? Well the good news is you don't have to be best mates with people to have rapport, thats not what I am talking about. To have trusting and respectful relationships, which then in turn nurture agreement or conflict, change and development in teams and business, you must be able to operate in rapport with each other for these interactions to be more effective.
I watched Ann Skidmore, of the Coaching Academy build rapport in a room of 50 people, slowly and carefully picking out rapport leaders, offering individuals to talk about themselves in a context at that time that felt comfortable. We are likely not going to forget the name of the first person who spoke, incidentally I was the second, and in building rapport, sub-conciously went for a topic I thought people would connect with, but also sharing a little insight into my life, and how seriously (or not as in this case) I take it. (I talked about my nine year old having a 'do it or ditch it' list on which he had written;
tidy roomnot argue with my sisterbuild a jet engine.
He got a replica jet engine, so it shows if you write down your goals, it does drive you to achieve them. He's still working on step 2...
What did I do?
What is fascinating is when you break it down, it's really quite straightforward but does take effort from all parties. To be willing to build rapport, to take a genuine interest in others - either in content or context, so who are they but WHO are they? What is important to them and why? Why did I mention my children? Because they are important to me, it's an insight into my values and what others might then have in common, so building connections. I offered information forward which was uncomplicated and the anecdote was amusing - another indicator of who I see myself as. I am also testing reactions, so who nodded knowingly? Who couldn't look less bothered? There would have been subtle indicators to pick up on, all being driven by our unconscious reactions.
As ever, wanting to ensure I understand, I have listened to and revisited the key points taught to us about building rapport (sketch note below - yes, I have traced that I am a visual thinker). The steps to building rapport - the trust that can be built if you take time to get to know the peers you work with - again I say OUT LOUD - this doesn't mean you are best mates, or now are firmly planted on a wedding invite list - but it does mean through your curiosity, you will work out what would make for a better relationship in whatever context you are operating in.
Oh I hear you, this all feels fluffy and cosy, but it isn't. You don't have to change yourself or expect others to change, you don't need to run around hugging everyone (that's not rapport!) you simply start communicating in a way that takes account of the other person, become more interested and being willing to see from their point of view.
For those of you who are now getting frustrated and want me to get to the point, I have mentioned some of the steps above;
* Take a genuine interest
* Be curious
* Be willing to see from another's point of view.
This is the savvy part, we can match those we are trying to build rapport with - don't make this awkward now, it will happen naturally the more you practice - you don't need to stare so hard at someone who gives eye contact that they form an entirely different view of you! So when you speak to someone; note the language, physiology - what words do they use, match or mirror how they sit, lean in, lean back. Send unconscious messages to their brain that make that connection even stronger. You don't even have to be in the same room (obviously you have to be conversing at some level...) - you can practise this on telephone or video link - you can still match pace, tone, find out more using digital media. How far do they sit from the camera, what can you see around them? What is giving away snippets of beliefs and values as they speak or from what you observe?
Use the other persons pace to help match - do they speak quickly, breath fast, do they talk really quietly and gently? Do they naturally hold eye contact? Do you? How do they sit, are they open to your conversation or pretty closed? What might you do to open that up? Try it out! Always operating with an intention to better understand, which, as I have said, improves the trust and respect in the relationship and improves communication! Don't be too obvious though!
Check out the sketch note for the four levels of rapport which is technically my revision but consider it might be helpful for me to share so you can all give it a go and I can reflect on my journey.
For those of you who love a 1.58 minute long time lapse video - here's one of that exact time of the sketch note - bloopers and all. Enjoy!