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Dance the dance of rapport by Debbie Robinson

Rapport“the process of establishing and maintaining a relationship of mutual trust and understanding between two or more people, the ability to generate responses from another person.” Introducing NLP – Joseph O’Connor & John Seymour

Have you ever noticed how conversation just seems to flow when two people are in rapport? Their bodies as well as their words match each other. Just watch a couple in a restaurant or friends meeting in a pub, they dance the dance of rapport! Picking up their glasses in unison, matching each other’s body language and speaking styles – is all part of the dance!

Successful people create rapport and rapport creates trust.

What we say can create or destroy rapport, but interestingly only 7% of communication is the spoken word. Our body language and our tone of voice are more important than the actual words spoken.

Many of us have been taught that if you want to succeed as a sales professional all you need to do is be friendly, polite and knowledgably explain the benefits of your products and service to potential clients.

You might need to wine and dine them, understand what their interests are, if they have a partner, a family etc – that’s what rapport is, isn’t it? No, it isn’t.

Ok, having an understanding of a client’s interests won’t do you any harm but rapport is a much deeper communication skill.

Living things do not communicate with language alone. Think about animals and plants that don’t have a language, they still communicate with other members of their species and with others outside their species. They do this through non-verbal behaviour, such a changing colour. Well humans communicate non-verbally too!

Have you ever admired someone who just knows when to ask the ‘killer question’, or when to stay silent, or when to stop pushing their client? If you have, you’re about to learn their secrets!

It’s all about reading someone’s non-verbal communications. By heightening your sensory perception (your awareness of the senses- seeing, hearing and feeling) you will develop the skills you admire and be able to develop great relationships.

Rapport skills enable you to quickly put others at ease and create trust. These skills allow you to get on with anyone anywhere, greatly increases your confidence and effectiveness. It also makes it easier for others to communicate with you.

Mastering the skill of rapport building requires sensory perception and behaviour flexibility on your part.

The only two limits to your ability to produce results in this area are:

  • How ‘switched on’ or aware you are to other people’s postures, gestures and speech patterns.
  • The elegance with which you can match them in the ‘dance’ of rapport.

The building blocks for matching are:

  • Body language
  • Posture
  • Weight distribution
  • Gestures–arms and hands, legs and feet
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Breathing rate

Voice quality

  • Volume
  • Tone
  • Pitch
  • Tempo and Sounds

Leading – Changes the other person’s behaviour by getting them to follow your lead. e.g. leading them from slumping, into a more upright posture, or leading them from speaking quietly to speaking more loudly.

Having rapport and being able to lead others makes it easier to achieve mutually desired outcomes such as reaching agreement.

If you are prepared to use these skills consciously, you can create rapport with whoever you choose. You don’t have to like the person to create rapport; you are simply building a bridge to understand them better. You will not know that it is effective or what results you’ll get unless you try it!

Enjoy the dance!

General points about rapport skills

  • The dance of rapport is what we do naturally
  • It allows you to join the other person in their model of the world
  • Rapport needs your flexibility of thought and behaviour
  • Notice what happens when people get on well – they tend to match
  • Notice the opposite, when people are in disagreement – they mismatch
  • Notice when you are not getting on with someone and try matching
  • Make it easy for others to communicate with you by practicing rapport
  • Liking the other person is not a prerequisite for rapport

by Debbie Robinson

2 Responses to "Dance the dance of rapport by Debbie Robinson"

1 | Bhavna

August 28th, 2011 at 11:18 pm


an amazing article…. i was able to find those missing steps to complete my behaviour….very powerful and mindblowing words which just hit ur brain and impact is ….great!!! very very effective way to create positive vibes ……CRAVING for more such articles !!!!!!!!!

Much thanks!

2 | Coach In The Spotlight - Swati Pradhan | The Coaching Academy Blog

November 15th, 2011 at 6:01 pm


[...] my journey as a corporate trainer I felt I had some natural skills of connecting and building rapport with people on a one to one basis. I also realised that I had been indirectly coaching people for a [...]

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