(Third of a series)

In our last blog post we discovered that a great way to make a good first impression is by using a technique called “matching and mirroring.”

Matching and mirroring utilizes our natural ability to adapt other people’s vocal and nonverbal signals so we can harmonize with our subjects more easily.

We also learned that in some instances, matching and mirroring won’t work immediately because a subject may be too preoccupied with the things that are going on in his life. Again, the solution is simple: keep trying and encourage him to focus on what you are saying!

How can pacing and leading improve rapport?

Pacing and leading is another NLP technique that every beginning practitioner should learn to improve his communication skills. This two-fold technique is considered a truly advanced method of influencing a subject because it requires more time and most of all, patience.

Pacing is an active process that combines the following elements: observation, matching & mirroring, acknowledging the subject and active listening.

Let’s take a look at the various elements that will allow you to pace anyone so that eventually, you can influence or lead them.

  1. Observation – To become an effective NLP practitioner and master communicator, you must develop a keen sense of observation. Observation is a skill, so it will take time before you begin noticing vocal and nonverbal signals from people.

You must use your senses of sight and hearing more actively when speaking to someone so you can pick up even the smallest changes in how your subject is expressing himself.

  1. Matching & mirroring – Matching and mirroring is contingent upon keen observation. This technique involves observing and noting the subject’s speaking style and body language and using the most prominent ones so that the speaker will be in sync with the other person.
  2. Acknowledging the subject – Everyone has a natural desire to be acknowledged. In order for your subject to fully trust you, you must be patient in understanding what he is trying to convey. Put your subject in the center of the interaction so that you don’t miss anything.

Placing a subject in the spotlight doesn’t mean that you will give the reins of the dialog to him. This simply means that your subject’s feedback is the most important element in the exchange and like gold, you’re eager to get it.

  1. Active listening – There are whole courses and seminars on active listening but at the core, this process is actually very simple: you have to listen more than you talk.

Often, speakers make the mistake of overpowering their subjects to the point that the other person is unable to properly give his feedback or input.

If you commit this mistake early on in a dialogue, you won’t get essential feedback that will guide you as the exchange progresses. You have to suspend your desire to talk more than your subject. Let your subject speak as much he wants and build your verbal strategies around your subject’s input.

Why is pacing important?

Pacing not only improves rapport between people in a dialog but it also helps make people feel secure. When you pace someone, you focus completely on what the other person is trying to express as opposed to what he is just saying.

For example, if a husband comes home drunk on a work night and his wife says “Come in, I’m not angry” when he arrives home, do you think that the wife’s words are sufficient to determine if she is angry or not?

In order to fully understand what is happening, you still have to take into consideration how the words were spoken and what she looked like when she was talking to the husband.

How do you lead your subject?

After pacing, the next logical step is leading.

Leading comes naturally after you have paced your subject. When you have reached a high level of similarity and harmony with your subject, your subject will find himself matching and mirroring you.

This is where subconscious influence begins. When your subject unknowingly acknowledges your ability to lead, he will begin to follow and adapt what he sees and hears, including your arguments and beliefs.

This is the point in time where you can begin asking the subject to commit to something on your behalf. Pacing and leading is particularly useful in the fields of marketing and sales where people rely on their ability to sell products and services in order to earn well,