NLP Rapport & Body Language
How To Get On Better With More People
The aim of this article is to introduce you to the key principles of NLP rapport and body language. To get really good at this, you need to practice – which is fun to do and enables you to gauge your progress.
As an aside - please, oh please, use these techniques for the power of good! It’s not entirely pleasant to use these powerful techniques to manipulate people. Use them to engage better with folk and create more meaningful relationships – and not just to get your own way all the time!
What is NLP Rapport?
Rapport is a feeling of trust and confidence that you get when you speak with someone. You connect with each other and feel like you have known each other for a long time – even if you have only just met. Rapport is simply that strange and subtle feeling that you really like somebody.
When you’re in rapport with someone, your bodies and voices will match. There’s an often-quoted experiment that states that only 7% of communication is the words you speak – the other 93% is derived from a mixture of body language and voice tonality. As such, it’s imperative that you learn to understand - and control - the behaviour that makes up over nine-tenths of how other people perceive you!
If you can learn to create rapport with people more easily, you’ll make more friends, do better in business and best of all - learn to understand people better. It also feels amazing to get on with so many new people – and the world becomes a bit of a more fun place to live in. It’s bloody simple to do too, with just a little bit of conscious awareness and practice.
NLP Rapport with Body Language
One way to create rapport is by matching the other person’s body language. By mirroring the way they carry themselves, you are communicating to their subconscious that “I am just like you!” People definitely like people who are similar to them, so this is a great way to get along with someone new.
Please note – matching body language is not mimicry. You don’t just copy every little movement the other person makes. You have to be subtle – otherwise people are going to think that you are an insensitive, deranged, copycat lunatic - for want of a better phrase.
To create rapport, see the other person’s body language as a dance – a dance where they take the lead! Dance with them by matching their body language – but do so delicately.
An easy way to do this is by matching posture. If you’re sitting with someone and they are crossing their legs, it’s fine to cross yours in the same way. If they lean forwards when they speak, you can lean forwards too. If they start to lean back, feel free to do so accordingly. As a guide, I normally wait 20 seconds or so before matching somebody’s body language – as your movement is much less likely to be consciously picked up on. It feels more natural and less forced that way too.
It goes without saying that facial gestures can be matched inoffensively. For example, if somebody smiles at you, it’s perfectly fine to smile back immediately! If they play with their hair, or twiddle a pen, you can do so too – just try not to make too big a deal of it. All of these little gestures will be picked up by the other person’s subconscious, and will affirm the belief that you are just like them, so they are worth playing with.
Creating NLP rapport with body language gets a little trickier when you attempt to match smaller movements that the other person makes. When you try this, you have to be a little more sensitive. If you start copying every little move that they make, you will quickly be rumbled, so subtlety is the aim here.
For example, if the other person moves their arm, you can match this by gently moving your hand on the corresponding side in the same direction. If they move their body, match by moving or nodding your head to follow the direction they take. It’s almost as if you make a little “tribute” move for every larger move that they make!
You can even attempt to match breathing with the other person – i.e. breathe at the same speed and at the same depth that they do – but this is a little too much even for me!
The techniques above are examples of what NLP calls Crossover Mirroring. Can you see what I mean about this being like a dance now? Bear in mind that you have to maintain a natural conversation whilst you’re doing all of this too – which is why it takes practice.
When you get the hang of it, however, you will match people’s body language automatically. For example, when I now meet someone new, I often stop to analyse my body language - only to realise that I am deeply matching the other person without realising it. This didn’t take too long at all to achieve – just a few weeks of practice.
NLP Rapport with Voice Matching
Another way to use NLP rapport techniques is by matching voices. This is a fantastic tool to use – particularly if you work in sales or use the telephone a lot, when you cannot rely on body language to get you by.
The idea here is to match the tonality of the other person (i.e. excited, happy, dry, interested, amused) and the speed at which they speak. If the other person speaks at a million miles an hour in an excited voice, you had better keep up and sound bloody animated too! Conversely, if the other party speaks slowly and carefully... you should do the same. Again, with a bit of practice, this comes naturally.
Voice matching is pretty simple – the only other things you have to watch out for are the volume that they speak at, and the rhythm they use. The latter can be a bit tricky, but it’s easy to speak loudly or softly if the other person is. All I’d recommend is to experiment with these ideas – for they are genuinely worth the practice!
NLP Rapport with Pacing & Leading
The final part of NLP Rapport that I will explore is Pacing and Leading. This is where it starts to get really fun – and a little bit freaky.
Once you have established rapport by Pacing somebody – in the ways described above – you can then begin to Lead them – by getting them to subconsciously copy your movements!
This has to be attempted to be believed – but in meetings I’ve been in recently, I’ve had people drinking when I do, stretching, playing with pens, crossing their legs the way I do – and basically copying my movements in every little way! I am almost certain that not one of these people did so consciously – a testament to the impact that creating rapport can have.
There are plenty of ways to lead somebody to your desired outcome – but again, please use this powerful technique for purposes of good! For example, I’m perfectly happy leading someone in a sales meeting before I ask for the business – in fact, it’s a great indicator for me of their readiness to buy. If I try to lead somebody and they don’t follow me, however, I know that we’re not in deep enough rapport yet for me to ask for their money.
Have fun trying this out on your friends... you’ll be amazed how easy it can be to lead them into copying your behaviour – but again, for the love of Christ, please don’t use these techniques to start brainwashing people for immoral, unethical or undesirable purposes... I don’t want it on my conscience!
Well, that’s my introduction to NLP Rapport and Body Language for you. I hope you’ll find these ideas useful – I’ve tried to explain them in a way that will allow almost anybody to give them a go. If you’re intrigued by the concept of NLP, have a look at some of my other NLP articles below. Enjoy!