(Second of a series)
How is communication influenced by rapport?
Neurolinguistic programming emphasizes the need to elicit and use feedback throughout the interaction to get the best possible results when communicating with someone.
Rapport or harmony-building is the process of eliminating differences between the speaker and subject with the intention of making the speaker more efficient and persuasive.
What are the channels of communication?
There is an old yet pervasive misconception that the words that we speak or hear should be the sole basis of our judgment when interacting with others.
People who restrict themselves to just listening to what is spoken will often find themselves dealing with a myriad of objections and generally, a high level of resistance.
This happens because human communication utilizes three distinct channels: vocal, verbal and nonverbal. Vocal communication includes elements like tone, pitch and speech rate.
Verbal language includes all forms of verbal expression; formal speech-in-use falls under the rubric of verbal language. The final and perhaps most important channel is nonverbal communication or body language.
What is the most important form of expression?
According to psychologists and anthropologists, we communicate chiefly through nonverbal language especially in face-to-face interactions. It’s very important that you remember just how much we express through the 3 channels of communication:
Nonverbal language – 60%
Vocal language – 30%
Verbal language – 10%
As you can plainly see, we make use of our nonverbal and vocal channels more than our verbal channel. Does this mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to what we verbally express? No – because in terms of conveying precise information, we still need our formal language or the language that we grew up with.
However, if you are trying to influence or persuade someone, what you are saying or expressing verbally must be congruent with what you are expressing vocally and nonverbally.
If the three channels of communication are not communicating the same message, your subject will sense the incongruity and he may decide that you may not be a trustworthy person because there is “something amiss” with the way you communicate.
In addition to ensuring that your message is conveyed in a unified manner by all three channels of communication, you must also learn how to match and mirror your subject to maintain rapport throughout the interaction.
What is matching and mirroring?
Matching and mirroring is an advanced rapport-building technique that focuses on the vocal and nonverbal channels of communication to convey a unified message and to create an excellent first impression on your subject.
Matching and mirroring is different from mere copying/mimicking because it will require you to subtly integrate your subject’s body language and vocal style to your own communication repertoire.
Match the other person, don’t mimic!
Mimicking will not produce the same results as matching and mirroring. If you try to mimic someone while they are talking to you, you may end up annoying, or worse, offending the other person. If you come across as someone who mimics, you may also be seen as a mean or rude speaker.
A mismatch can occur when two or more people are using different vocal and nonverbal signals and there is simply no harmony in the interaction.
Usually, a mismatch causes a high level of resistance or friction among participants of a dialogue. A communication breakdown is imminent if the main speaker does not make an effort to harmonize with his subject/s.
In order to successfully match and mirror someone during an interaction, pay attention to the following vocal and nonverbal signals:
- Position of arms, legs, hands and feet
- Hand gestures and arm movements
- Facial expressions such as smiling, frowning, turning away, etc.
- Energy level (high, middle or low)
- Speech rate
- Voice tonality
- Volume of voice
- Speech rhythm
Once you have correctly determined the different ways that a person can express himself nonverbally and vocally, you can begin adapting the various styles as you communicate, too.
Adaptation is adding something to what you are presently doing. This greatly differentiates matching and mirroring from mechanical copying because mechanical copying creates a 1:1 ratio between the gestures and vocal style of the speaker and subject.
What should you do when matching and mirroring fails to create rapport?
If this particular technique doesn’t work, it’s possible that the subject is mentally preoccupied. You have to get his attention! In my next blog post, I’m going to share with you a method called “pacing and leading” that will help you establish rapport with even the most resistant of subjects. In the meantime, start practicing matching and mirroring!