NLP Jargon – What Is Rapport?
Our NLP term for today is rapport. When you learn NLP, the skill of rapport comes up rapidly among the critical skills to master. However, just like anchoring, rapport is both a concept and a skill in NLP. Let’s explore its meaning in a bit more depth.
As a concept in NLP, rapport is a key component of human relationships and usually takes place at a nearly unconscious level. Rapport is often mistaken to be a relationship of “trust”, of “liking” or of similarity between people. In most texts I’ve read on rapport, the author reflects that meaning of rapport.
If you dig deeper into the roots of rapport as a concept, back to the founders of NLP and even their master, Milton Erickson, pioneered the field of conversational hypnosis, you might be surprised to learn that rapport has little to do with trust. Quite the opposite is true: trust is just one of the possible by-products of rapport.
So what is rapport?
In NLP, we consider two people to have rapport when they are in a relationship of responsiveness, mainly unconscious in nature.
What does that mean?
It means that people in rapport find themselves in “sync” or on the same “wavelength”. By this, I don’t mean that they trust one another or that they agree with one another. I simply mean that they pay attention to one another, even if only unconsciously.
A thief that pulls out a gun and points it at someone’s head will instantly gain rapport, albeit not manifested in trust.
A cop that pulls you over will instantly have rapport, albeit generally not trust nor liking.
This responsiveness will manifest itself when one of the people in rapport leads and the others follow. This means they are in sync.
As a skill in NLP, rapport consists in developing the ability to captivate and then lead people’s unconscious attention.
NLP Trainers teach a number of techniques that supposedly help build rapport such as:
• Matching postures,
• Matching gestures,
• Establishing eye contact;
• Matching breathing rhythm.
• Matching tone of voice.
And yet, all of these are generally only symptoms that rapport has been established. In future articles, we’ll discuss the roots of rapport and how to establish it more simply and directly.