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Introduction to rapport

Discover what rapport is and what benefits you gain from establishing it...

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This free article on rapport which we offer to you is an introductory essay on the power of rapport in everyday life communication with others.


Rapport, which is achieved through pacing techniques, is the key to successful communication. We all experience rapport in our daily life, everyday, but not being initiated to its secrets we fail to grasp its underlying mechanisms and structure.


In our workshops you will be given the chance to penetrate the innermost secrets of rapport and to master the art of persuasion and seduction.


The Role of Rapport in Everyday Life

When communication between two or more individuals reaches its optimum its said that a perfect rapport has been established. On the other hand, when communicating with a given person is hard the situation becomes rapport-less. There are strangers which inspire us immediate trust, while a long-time neighbour of us that we meet every morning since twenty years has never inspired us trust.

When two or more human beings encounter, immediately start automatic mechanisms (both conscious and subconscious) by which the individual triggers a process of comparison and identification with the other. If the outcome of this process is judged overall positive rapport is established amongst the two.

When people are in a state of rapport they tend to respond easier to our stimulations, to our proposals, to our person in general.

Rapport can be defined as that empathy, that trust, which is necessarily the foundation of all good relations. Experience teaches us that rapport is built more on the relational level than on content – through gestures, voice tone, gaze, speech pauses, etc. The parameters and mechanisms involved in this process are so detailed and simultaneously taking place that they escape full control by the conscious mind.


The Secrets of Rapport

The concept that lies at the base of rapport’s instauration is that there is an innate tendency in man to conform to the other’s behaviours. This conformation happens through a comparison of one’s own model of the world with the data inputing from the experience of the ongoing relation. If conforming is judged possible and convenient, then the individual will start the process of conformation and rapport.

One of the clear signs of the presence of rapport is that the relation becomes symbiotic, i.e. individuals tend toward a behavioural compromise, a sort of meeting point on one or more relation planes. Its easy to notice how two close friend tend with time to assimilate more and more each other’s gesture, facial expressions, verbal expressions, postures, up to the point that they are thought to be brothers. This is due to the fact that the long-term experience of —and exposure to— mutual rapport has generated a true and permanent behavioural symbiosis. Even when these two friend will disagree on something (content plane) they will manage to fight over it while keeping rapport alive on the relation plane. The way by which they will keep fighting (their gestures, their tone, their facial and verbal expressions—beyond the subject matter of the discussion) will be a mutual pacing of their respective states of disagreement, of the way the disagreement is perceived and communicated. For the same reason two friend or a couple of lovers can fight non-stopping for hours over a question, where two strangers will drop the debate after a couple of replies.

We can immediately understand the fundamental role that pacing and establishing rapport play in the formation of human relations and their survival. The survival of Man itself —being a social being— largely depends on his ability to pace and handle the relations he has with his specie members.


Pacing: The Key to Building Rapport

The process though which an individual contributes to building rapport with someone else is called pacing. Pacing is the process by which we send back to someone through feedback, with our own behaviour, his behaviour: in other words, we move toward his model of the world. Pacing someone’s mood, his gestures, his facial expressions, means to tune-in with his present state of being. We observe in him a given way of relating to the world, a given way to act (and therefore: live and experience) his body – through posture, breathing, etc. – and we assimilate all this and we emulate it. Doing so, we obtain that the person observing us will find mirrored in us his state of being, his way of living this moment, and all this will increase chances that he will see in us a good interlocutor, someone close to his way of being.

Substantially we can affirm that pacing someone means to keep up with his ongoing experience. By mirroring attitudes and states of being we are tracking the traces that all individuals inevitably leave (through communication) behind along the journey of their inner territorial representation (map) of the ongoing experience. Keeping up someone’s experience implies not only allowing him to feel empathy toward us, ma also offers us the chance of putting ourselves in the other’s shoes and to look at the world from his perspective, to somehow share his ongoing experience – or at least the way he experiences what he experiences, in shape more than content.


Rapport: From Contents to Shape

One of the aspects of rapport that make it so practical in use is that in order to carry it out its not necessary to get involved with the content of others’ experience, it will suffice to stop at its shape. To pace someone feeling sad it’s not necessary to investigate the reasons of his sadness, it will be enough for us to pace the way by which he lives his sadness. Often people believe that in order to build rapport with someone sad it’s necessary to know everything on the motives of his sadness and then start commenting lengthy over those reasons and to indulge in speeches on sadness and happiness. Such an attitude its not the foundation of rapport building, especially if the other person is not willing to talk over his problems. Pacing is something much more discrete and functional in virtue of its penetrating shape while leaving aside content.


A Close Look at Rapport Building Strategy

While pacing a restless person you will soon realize his state of being. Pacing his frenzy movements and his states of agitation you will soon find yourself experiencing too a share of his restlessness. You will then start to understand which are the things which a person in such a state f being is able to carry out and which not. Since you also are participating to the shape of his experience, you will find it easy guide him toward a state of being suitable to perceiving what you intend to communicate him. When – through pacing and feedback – you will realize that you have reached the intended behavioural modality, you will also realize the time is ripe for communicating that which you intended. At this point the person that a while ago was in a state of anxiety and agitation will be more receptive to your message. The empathy felt by him toward you will be magnified by the awareness (either conscious or unconscious) that “somehow” you are responsible for his feeling better. All this is of great impact on the outcome of what might be a business meeting, a sales negotiation, a love declaration/proposal or the request for an increase in salary.


The Secrets of Pacing Power


What renders pacing so
powerful and irresistible is that,
when we pace someone in order to refuse us
he would have to refuse his own way of being!


If we have lead a person toward a better state of being and then we make a proposal to him, at unconscious level he will know that by refusing it (i.e. by not pacing you) he will be refusing also his actual state of being which is bound (on the level of experience) to the built rapport. In discomfort states in stead it happens that the person being paced will anyhow be involved in an unconscious process of identification with you, and therefore will be receptive to any proposal of yours. Since the person can’t manage to find in himself the necessary resource for moving to a better state of being, he will be prone to follow you in your changes. Through unconscious identification he is already convinced that you are experiencing that which he experiences, therefore anything you will manage to do he will feel that it’s something that is at his reach also.

An example of this process could be that of a shy person which, due to his shyness, has never managed to make a love proposal. Every time he sees someone flirting with success he will say to himself “For that person is different… he is not shy!” it often happens that shy people end up building a mental barrier beyond which they do not want to go, and when they will gather amongst shy people they will mutually confirm each other in their shyness, thus amplifying the image of themselves they have. When they meet self-confident people they do not learn anything from them because they are self-limited by their mentality about how things are and work. That a self-confident person should go to such a shy person and tell him “Come on, wake up you sleeping one! Come and join us, we’ll go out and date some chicks!” would be of no use nor benefit to the shy one, since he anyway doesn’t see in the self-confident a reflection of his own self-image, of his potentials.

Instead, if in approaching the shy person we try also to approach his world (model of the world), his way of seeing things, and by pacing him to make it so that he identifies with us, that he accepts us in his world, then form that point onward whatever we will do he will experience it – by similitude – and something that he also could do, like a lost occasion. The excuse “he managed it since he is different” will no longer find its context. At the unconscious level he will perceive that a person like him, starting off form his way of being, has obtained things that he believed impossible for those “like this”, like himself.

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