Would you like to get on better with everyone you meet? In NLP [Neuro Linguistic Programming] this is a learned skill called Rapport. Of course, we all have it naturally with people we get along with. Did you know you can learn the skills to have better communication with people it's not so easy to like? In fact, it's easy to learn. You just need to follow a few simple rules...
Rule 1. Listen!
I know it sounds obvious but most people don't listen with their full attention. They have half a mind on something else. Do you think of yourself as a good listener?
The simple bit... Try this experiment: Next time you're with someone, listen attentively, with all your concentration, to what they're saying. In our training we call this Active Listening. It really means paying full attention to the other person. We can show that we're really listening by maintaining good eye contact, asking open questions [one's that don't have a 'yes' or 'no' answer], and good body language such as facing the other person or nodding.
The more challenging bit is Maintaining Empathy, which means imagining seeing the world from their viewpoint or stepping into their shoes.
Rule 2. Match words and phrases.
This makes the other person feel 'heard.' The simple bit... In your next conversation, try responding with words and phrases that the other person has used. Be careful, though, you don't want to sound as though you're mimicking! For example...
Other: "I'm having a really hard time at the moment. Everything seems to be getting on top of me." You (mimicking): "I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time. What's getting on top of you?" Or, better: "Yeah, I'm having a hard time, too. Life gets on top of you sometimes, doesn't it?"
The more challenging bit: In NLP we notice a person's Preferred Representational System. People use language that is either:
Rule 3. Match body language.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable as someone towered over you, or leaned over your shoulder? In rapport we aim to be equal to the other person. That means being on the same level, literally.
The simple bit: If the other person is standing, you stand. If they sit, you sit. The more challenging bit: You can match posture, gestures and facial expressions and even breathing! Be careful, though - matching should be subtle and is not the same as mirroring.
In a therapeutic setting, Milton H Erickson defines rapport as: "A state of relationship between the patient and you in which they tend to exclude everything else, and to give their attention to you, and they are responsive to you."
Try these techniques next time you're with someone and enjoy noticing how the level of communication really improves. Good luck!
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