“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results”

I have that song going around and around my head. And you probably have too now. You’re welcome. If you haven’t, well, I have embedded the video below (I am that kind).

You see, it’s not just what you do, it’s also the quality of the effort of what you do. Micheal Breen does a really good example with shaking hands. Someone who just holds on a little too long (I am sure you have met them…).

Sadly this is something I am all too aware of. One of the reason I got interested in NLP was that I was a shy person who had no idea how to really talk to anyone. I would either sit in silence or ramble on and on and on and on and on to fill the uncomfortable silence. NLP was an excellent way of both improving my mental state (and therefore not feeling so shy), and teaching me better ways to communicate and build rapport.

The problem is I misunderstood a key tenant of rapport – there is a golden rule that is often talked about, and that is “we like people who are like ourselves”. I got stuck on the word “like”. I thought to be effective at communication everyone had to like me. I had to stand under a shower of unadulterated praise.

I would do all the “right” things when it came to the content of my communication, but I would put too much effort into it to get people to LIKE ME! And I would act like an over excited puppy. This over eagerness to please, and the desire for positive feedback, had the exact opposite effect to what I was after – people didn’t like me, they actually found me irritating. I didn’t do this every time, but I tended to do it when I felt it was important that the person liked me (oh the irony).

Very slowly I realised 2 things:

1. Feedback was a major issue. I was lacking sensory acuity (a fancy term for paying attention AND knowing what to look for). I struggled to read people, so I would demand overt feedback that the communication was working (that I was being “liked”). If I didn’t get the feedback I was expecting or hoping for, I would ramp up what I was doing in an effort to get that feedback (either say more things, or ramp up my state and say things louder and faster and with more animation).

2. But the most important thing that it took me much longer to finally discover (far too long), is that often, if you aren’t getting the results you want, you need to tone it down not ramp it up. In a strange way the secret was to not care too much (in the politest possible interpretation of that phrase) about whether the person liked you or not. I would often do that strange thing that if I was talking to a group of people, most of whom seemed engaged, but one person was not giving me the feedback I expected (or craved?) I would home in on that one person and start ramping up the puppy dog to get the response I wanted. This, of course, would have disastrous effects. Not only would I have the exact opposite effect on this one person, I would lose the rest of the group as well!

Anyway, why am I going on about this now? Well I still, to this day, mess these things up (I am only human). I have recently been reconnecting on LinkedIn with some old (in some cases very old) contacts. And with one contact, in hindsight, I realised I went all “puppy dog”. I did all the right stuff (I think), but I was way too enthusiastic in my replies. So if that person is reading this, this is a public apology for getting a bit carried away (it would be funny, wouldn’t it, if the person I thought I had been a bit overly enthusiastic with thinks it was fine and someone else thinks I am talking about them?!).

The picture is of my dog when she was a puppy.

In this NLP videoblog, I share a confession about my mistakes in attempting to build rapport in the hope it will help you avoid making them yourself!

There is a myth in teaching people rapport that seems persist…

That is, if you want to get in rapport (the precursor to creating a meaningful connection, get the person to “like” or agree with you, etc) with someone you need to somehow mimic that persons body posture and movement: If they cross their legs, you cross your legs, if they fold their arms, you fold your arms, if they pick their nose you pick your nose…

This belief was born out of a study done by social psychologists who noticed that people who were in rapport tended to match each others body movements. This led to the hypotheses that if you matched the persons body postures it artificially accelerates this process.

This has since been shown to be not exactly true…

Body matching is an excellent indicator of rapport, but not a great facilitator of it. In fact, it often has the opposite effect and can be jarring and distracting to the person you are attempting to gain rapport with.

But there is still a place for matching and mirroring in rapport creation and this is to match and mirror the persons interpretation, or “map”, of reality.

For those of you not overly well versed in the principles of NLP there is a saying that “the map is not the territory”. Which is sort of the first commandment of NLP, as if it was written on the back of the stone tablets Moses brought down from the mountain. What this means is that, through or experiences and interpretation of those experience, we create our own “map” of the world around us, we use this to navigate our way around (we often confuse this “map” for “reality”, hence the reminder that it isn’t).

Everyone’s “map” has a different structure and people give away their map of the world in the words they use, the the gestures and eye movements that they do and the tone, speed and rate at which they speak and some other things (but these are key ones).

To create rapport these are what you want to match, pace and mirror. Offer back the words they use, copy the speed and rate at which they speak, repeat specific gestures that they use when they are..