It’s been a week since my unbelievable experience at Unleash the Power Within and I’ve had a chance to digest the incredible amount of topics covered during the event.

One of the more interesting topics was rapport and how it can enhance your relationship with people:

During the seminar, we performed a few exercises on developing rapport and we actually had some homework on building rapport.

It’s a fascinating topic and a lot of the things we learned has had a significant impact on my personal life.  I did want to share some of my insight in the hopes it will help other people in their every day life.

What is rapport?

If you’ve ever dabbled in sales, the term “rapport” is typically used and loosely defined as developing a relationship with your potential client to sell them your products and services.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “rapport” is defined as “a friendly, harmonious relationship; especially :  a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.”

After studying a little neuro-linguistic programming and experiencing Tony Robbin’s UPW event, I think the term “rapport” has a much more philosophical, emotional meaning.

Have you ever sat down in a conversation with someone and felt such a strong connection with them time just flew by?

That’s rapport.

In my opinion, rapport is when you make a deep, meaningful connection with another person while you are communicating.

During this period, time has no meaning.  Both people are focused and connected.  Communication is more than just spoken words; it’s a temporary feeling of interconnection.

Image from True rapport is a deep, meaningful connection with someone and can help enrich your life.

Matching and Mirroring

When I read the book NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic programming, one of the more fascinating stories was when the author talked about his experience during his time studying NLP with one of his professors.

He recapped a time before class when his teacher had two people sit facing away from each other.  For the first part of the exercise, both individuals were to talk about something they were in disagreement on while making gestures.

Predictably, the actions and gestures they made were out of sync.

For the second part of the exercise, the teacher had them talk about something they were in agreement on while making gestures.

Amazingly, their gestures were in sync, despite them not looking at each other!

So what’s the point of the story?  Matching and mirroring will only help initiate and enhance rapport, but it will not create and keep true rapport with a person.

If you are truly in rapport with a person, matching and mirroring will naturally happen!

It’s all about INTENT

So if matching and mirroring doesn’t create and keep true rapport, how does true rapport happen?

I humbly propose the medium which creates true rapport is intent.  I.E., why do you want to create rapport in the first place?

Are you just making small talk for the sake of making small talk?  Are you just talking to someone because you want to talk about yourself?  Are you bored and just looking for something to do?

In all the cases I mentioned above, the likelihood of you creating true rapport is slim to none.

But what if you wanted to talk to someone because you felt they were going to be your future romantic life partner?  What if you were a pastor and wanted to spread the Word of God?  What if you felt everyone who used your product or service was going to benefit greatly?

Do you think you are more likely to develop rapport?  I say yes!

Get rid of your predispositions and keep your curiosity

Additionally, there are two things you need to do to establish true rapport: 1) Get rid of your predispositions about people and 2) be extremely curious about them.

Why?  Because if you don’t do both, you’ll never really get to know them!

Here’s an example – have you ever met someone and you have already made a lot of assumptions about them?  “Never judge a book by it’s cover” is a common saying, but in reality most people judge who they meet based on:

  • Their looks
  • How they’re dressed
  • Any assumptions they’ve already put in their head about the other person

To establish true rapport, the best thing to do is get rid of those predispositions about the other person and be as curious as possible.

Try it the next time you meet someone new and see if it works!

Rapport in everyday life

So here’s how we tie it all together and use rapport (with proper intent) in your everyday life:

At parties

If you’re a shy person like me, you hate going to parties and making small talk because you feel like all those conversations are meaningless and useful.

Instead of being the shitty selfish asshole you previously were, try this instead the next time you go to a party:

  • Make it up in your head every person at the party is unique and special
  • Go to the party sincerely wanting to know as much about other people as possible
  • At the same time, try to make them feel comfortable when you talk to them through mirroring and matching

If I were to make a guess, you’ll make connections with strangers you’d never thought was possible!

At home

Rapport can also help you establish better relationships at home.

What if you went home today and just erased any predispositions in your brain about your family and decided to really be curious about them and how their day was.

As the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt”.  But what if you were to treat your family as people you wanted to get to know and understand even more?  Do you think you will develop a much richer relationship with them?

At work

For salespeople, rapport has tremendous value if done correctly and a lot of it has to do with intent.

If I were to imagine, most salespeople who are reading this try to establish rapport with potential clients because they want to make more money.

But what if you flipped that idea on its head and decided you wanted to establish rapport because you truly wanted to improve people’s lives with your products or services?  Do you think it would be much easier to establish and retain rapport? Do you think it will also enhance your work life because it will give you more meaning?  Do you think your career will be more like your mission instead of your job?

What if you’re not a salesperson?  How will rapport work for you?

Customer service representatives deal with people every day.  Real life people who each have rich beautiful lives you can get to know and help.  Wouldn’t curiosity and rapport enrich both your lives?

For everyone else, I believe establishing rapport in just one conversation with each person you work with (and your customers) will greatly enhance your relationship with them – try it out tomorrow and see!

Do you have any personal experience with rapport? Has it enhanced your life?  Write it down in the comments below!



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