Have you ever met a person for the first time and felt instant trust and connection? Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know why but I really like that person”? On the other hand, have you met someone that you just didn’t trust even if you couldn’t give the exact reason why? How do we make these almost instantaneous decisions to like or dislike someone? What is it that makes us instantly feel comfortable with some people and not with others? The answer is rapport. The dictionary defines rapport as having harmonious relation, connection or trust.
Rapport has a language
When it comes to rapport, a general principle is I like people who are like me. i.e. I like people who speak and understand the same language as me. We expect a person speaking German will have a communication challenge speaking with someone who communicates in Japanese. But most of us are unaware of the additional languages we use that create or destroy rapport. Learning the languages of rapport pays huge dividends including improved communication, enhanced relationships, increased sales, referrals and retention. Some of the language of rapport include:
- Body language
- Sensory preference language
- Brain quadrant language
- Love language
Have you ever looked carefully at the body language of lovers and notice how they seem to be perfectly in-sync with each other? This matching has been called mirroring. Mirroring includes matching observable qualities such as:
- Facial expressions
- Posture and body language
- Speech volume, rate and tone
- Energy level, breathing rate
Recent research published in the Harvard Business Review showed there’s actually a neural basis for that feeling of connection. The mirroring process is not just happening physically but In good communication, the listener’s brain activity begins to mirror the speaker’s brain activity. Often we do this unconsciously. Perhaps you can recall a time when you were on the edge of your chair seeing someone cross a finish line in a race or you scrunched your face as you watched someone eat something distasteful.
Looking at lovers fascinates me. They never seem to tire of looking into each other’s eyes, run out of conversation material, or cease to enjoy physical contact. They appear frozen in time, lost in their own world and in perfect sync.
One factor creating this “sync” or rapport is sensory preference matching. Our sensory preference is the type of sensory data that our brain processes the quickest and in the most energy efficient manner. There are three sensory modalities; visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Although we all use all our senses most of the time there is usually one that registers in the brain the quickest and with the most intensity.
When a couple is in love, however, it appears we use all three modalities. Couples gaze into each other’s eyes and soak in details of their partner’s features, clothing, etc. (visual), listen attentively to the sound of their partner’s voice, whisper sweet nothings or sing to each other (auditory) and enjoy holding hands, embracing and other forms of touch (kinesthetic). With time,however, each will naturally drift into using their preferred sensory modality. If the couple’s sensory preference is the same then each will feel loved and nurtured. If they differ, a sense of discord and lack of nurture will be perceived. There will often be a sense that their lover has somehow changed. Pay attention to both your sensory preference and that of your clients or loved ones. Developing the ability to understand and “speak” the language of the various sensory preferences is a key to enhancing both romantic relationships and rapport in general.
The languages of Rapport can be learned
Creating rapport is both an art and a science and it can be learned. Begin by being fully present
- Observe their expression, the angle of the tilt of their head. Look at their posture..Is your client seated with legs crossed or hands folded? Listen to their speech. Are they speaking fast or slow? loud or soft?
- Listen to the phrases most frequently used. These will help you discover the primary sensory learning preference. Are they auditory? Notice phrases such as, “I hear you”. Are they visual? They will use phrases like, “I see what you mean”. Or are they kinesthetic? Kinesthetic phrases often include the word “feel” e.g., “I just don’t feel right about that”.
- Practice mirroring their vocal and physical mannerisms as well as using their sensory preference vocabulary without being so obvious you appear to be mimicking them.
Rapport is a language and it can be learned. Your efforts will surely pay big dividends including deeper friendships, increased sales,retention and referrals!
To learn more rapport building tips and discover more about brain quadrant language and love languages watch for part 2