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Get in Sync with Rapport

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Rapport is the darling topic of NLP experts and self help gurus, going all the way back to Dale Carnegie and ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.  But what is it really, does it have the magic it is claimed to have and, if so, how can you deploy it?   We’ll take a look at these three questions.

What is Rapport?

Rapport really exists at two levels and its power come from the interplay between the two.  At the more superficial level, it the sense that two people have, that they understand one another fully and share each other’s concerns.  At the deeper level, rapport exists when two people have a relationship based on liking of and trust for each other.

We recognise rapport in two people who are together, when we start to notice similarities in the way they dress, their behaviour, how they speak and their movements, which often become synchronised.  We say that they are ‘in tune’ with one another, they are harmonised, they are in sync.

How effective is Rapport?

Rapport is  a natural process, which has evolved to build and strengthen bonds.  The important question is not whether it is effective, but whether we can use it to our advantage in a conscious way.  The answer seems to be yes.  Used in an artful manner, rapport-building skills are effective in domains from counselling and therapy to sales and customer service.  They are also used by con artists, so beware.

There was an excellent article in The New York Times, called ‘You Remind Me of Me’ that discussed a range of experimental evidence.

How can you use Rapport?

The basic approach to creating rapport is to match the person you are speaking with.  Do what they do and echo their movements, vocal patterns and key words.  Do so subtly (but not too subtly – it feels natural and so is rarely noticed).

Adopt a similar posture and repeat back the most important aspects of what they say – using their words.  Make your movements similar to theirs in quality and quantity, but don’t just copy them.

Speak at about the same speed and repeat important gestures and expressions, like smiling and frowning.

Build it up gradually and start to notice not only how they are more open to you, but also how much more clearly you understand what they are trying to communicate.

Further Reading

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Dale Carnegie: The King of Self Help

Some book titles become clichés.  So it is with ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.  We use this as a turn of phrase from time to time – often without having read the book.

A Confession

I confess: I wrote my own book on influence, without reading it. And the most shameful part is that it had been on my shelf for several years.  I pulled it down this week to take a look.

Who was Dale Carnegie?

Dale Breckenridge CarnegieDale Carnegie came from Missouri and was the son of poor farmers.  After college, he tried a number of careers, including sales, acting and writing novels.  As a salesman, he was extraordinarily successful.

But real success began when he started giving night-school courses in public speaking at the YMCA schools in New York.  He was not paid, but instead was able to keep a portion of the admission fees.  Before long, he was earning a very handsome income.

He changed the spelling of his family name from Carnagey to Carnegie, to link him to the wholly related, highly successful business man, Andrew Carnegie and, when his talks became exceedingly popular , even hired and sold out Carnegie Hall.

His first book, a text about public speaking and influence was followed, in 1936 by the book that was to make his name and his fortune.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Carnegie tells you how to do just that, in four parts.  It remains in print and the latest UK edition, at time of writing, is ranked 187 in Amazon’s UK list of all books.  The four parts give you:

  1. Three principles for handling people
  2. Six ways to make people like you
  3. Twelve principles for winning people over to your way of thinking
  4. Nine principles for how to be a leader

There is far too much to summarise here, so I will pick on his six ways to make people like you, as perhaps the most fundamental human skill.

Six ways to make people like you

Dale Carnegie: Six ways to make people like you

So here’s the deal

Robert Cialdini, in another Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, describes ‘liking’ as one of the six ‘weapons’ of influence.  And being liked requires no magic.  Yet, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean we all do it.

I am off to chat in the kitchen while my wife watches Come Dine with Me and we cook supper.  On past form, at least one of the contestants will fail on at least three of the above.

For you though, treat Carnegie’s list as a simple model for how to be liked, and therefore, how to increase your influence.

Some Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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