NLP Rapport


  • Author David Green
  • Published September 28, 2010
  • Word count 1,444

Birds of a feather flock together…

Communication is something that for the most part we take for granted. Most people unconsciously assume that because they can speak and listen they are perfectly adequate communicators, and for the most part that is probably true enough. However, communicating under normal circumstances with people we know is relatively easy and poses no great challenge for anyone, although, even under those circumstances misunderstanding, confusion and even disagreement is possible. But what about those times when communication is really important to our success, happiness, personal satisfaction or the need to overcome personal adversity or challenge of some kind? That is when we really need to communicate well, even masterfully to achieve an outcome that is important or even necessary to our future.

The challenge with communication is that most people actually think that they are good at it. In my communication seminars I use an exercise that, whilst really simple, finds even good communicators lost for words and it shows just how complex communication really is because it is more than just being able to string two sentences together. Really effective communication is like the coming together of sheet music in the hands of an orchestra, all neatly choreographed through the movements of the conductor’s baton. Highly effective communication requires a combination of skills and necessitates proficiency in all of them. Great communication is not about opening one’s mouth and allowing the words to flow out like spilled water from a jug. Great communication is about thought, consideration, listening, empathy, reiteration, confirmation, compromise and agreement, all spun together in a web of equal strands all connecting with both parties.

In other words communication is an equal two-way process that requires everyone to participate equally in achieving an outcome that equally satisfies or caters for the needs of all concerned. I believe that there is a one to one relationship between talking and listening and any communication (outside of counselling perhaps) that is unequal in these aspects will become more unequal in other ways too over time. Let’s face it, few people are interested in being the listener all of the time and few are interested in being the sole talker either. I say few because I have actually met two people in my lifetime who could actually spend an entire evening talking, never once worrying about listening to anyone else. They were amazing individuals because they literally had the unusual and debatable skill of opening their mouth and not stopping for hours. From a professional point of view I found them fascinating, albeit tedious too after an hour or so of listening patiently. To this day I stand in awe of their ability to find so many different things to talk about and string them all together almost unnoticeable like a the merging in and out of two completely different pieces of music. Regardless of your viewpoint, that is an amazing skill.

Effective communication is not easy to accomplish because it means suspending ourselves, our needs, our motives and agendas for a while and giving ourselves over completely in terms of concentration to another person, regardless of our feelings or views about what they are saying. Whilst we can interrupt from time to time and add our four pennyworth the more we do so, the less effective the communication will tend to become once we reach a point of mutually disagreeable difference. In important communications the need for suspending ourselves will increase as too will the requirement to become more neutral, less judgemental or disagreeable and more in harmony with the other person(s). For many people, myself included for many years, this process can seem false and even patronising, which of course it is when done for reasons other than mutual respect and courtesy.

This accounts for one reason why NLP has been seen in less than a positive light in some quarters because it provides just such a strategy for building rapport with anyone regardless of any genuine commonality that may exist between them. Ultimately, NLP merely established what successful communicators do and did not actually invent anything new. It merely collated and packaged the information is a new way. How we use any skill, tool, strategy or process is our own personal responsibility and NLP concepts are specifically for empowerment not coercion, misuse or undesirable influence.

What NLP has done, however, is to show us the dynamics of good communication and provide us with a model from which to learn and become more effective.

In NLP terms this process is know as Rapport and it centres on the development of certain skills that enable us to become more unconsciously aligned with another person’s internal mental processes.

In essence rapport is the creation of mutual levels of harmony or balance, understanding and mental affinity. We know when we are ‘in rapport’ because the communication flows more smoothly and even silences seem natural and comfortable somehow. In such a place there is no misunderstanding, discord or disagreement and the natural state is one of mutual appreciation for those things that we do have in common; known as commonality.

In creating rapport with another human being we can generate the optimum mental state and level of communication to eliminate resistance and encourages agreement and cooperation.

By being in harmony with others we are more able to concentrate upon what is being said, the person, their needs and the desired outcomes whether they be business or simply social harmony and mutual satisfaction and enjoyment, and we are better able to match them with our own.

The process is achieved through NLP methods in a quite clinical, contrived way and necessitates the use of such techniques as matching, mirroring, pacing and leading, all of which lead to our being able to create a level of unconscious rapport in which, at its most malevolent, the other person is lead into a state of unconscious union in which they see us as their like and in doing so consider us in the same light as they consider themselves. It’s a case of ‘birds of a feather flock together’ in which the assumption is that like minded people tend to like each other and people with common interests tend to feel more comfortable with each other. This is of course the premise upon which all friendships and true bonds are founded in the first place and NLP places great emphasis upon manufacturing them through the unconscious techniques used by hypnotists and the like.

In a practical sense, to achieve rapport we need to become more aware of what the other person is saying, how they are speaking, what they are doing and feeling. It involves developing our awareness (or sensory acuity) and opening ourselves up to the constant signals, messages and non-verbal cues that we are receive from others in our interaction with them. These clues assist us in developing amazing unconscious levels of rapport as the other person’s whole being provides a myriad of tips and hints about how they think, feel and behave. As the process of ‘building rapport’ unfolds they will tend to become more compliant, affable and generally agreeable.

In picking up on other people’s unconscious signals we are literally able to enter their internal world and understand them at a far deeper and more significant level. It is at this level that we can pick up on what they are communicating unconsciously and non-verbally for with every thought their entire physiology provides subtly clues about their thinking and their experience of that moment.

The art of creating rapport when practised responsibly provides us with a highly effective tool for empowering others as well as ourselves. It smoothes away the rough edges of unfamiliarity and difference and replaces them with more comfortable feelings of ease and commonality, enabling both parties to feel safer to be who they are an not put on heirs and graces that dissolve over time anyway.

NLP rapport techniques allow good new relationships to develop quicker than they would normally, which means that mutually beneficial outcomes may be achieved sooner rather than later, hopefully to the benefit of all concerned.

NLP is the science of excellence that provides an amazing range of sensory-based tools that can help almost anyone to transform their thinking and their way of perceiving themselves and the world around them. You can find out more and develop some of those skills at You will find a range of opportunities including FREE mini-courses and NLP resources that work in the real world.

Copyright © and David Green 2010. All rights reserved.

David Green is an author, presenter and specialist in personal and professional development. For over 25 years he has trained, lectured and presented a wide range of mind science programmes including NLP courses and workshops. A popular success specialist David has worked with a host of government, corporate and institutional clients, including well known celebrities and thousands of private individuals on both sides of the Atlantic

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