Getting in rapport is one of the key skills of an NLP Practitioner and it is taught on our NLP Practitioner training courses, you can use it to influence and motivate other people, or just to enjoy really getting on with someone and enjoying their company. Here are some stories of NLP Rapport in practice:


My favourite past time

Getting into rapport with others has become my favourite NLP past time.

In the beginning it was very difficult to get the physiology right. The most challenging part for me was to achieve the right tone, colour etc. of voice. To tell you the truth, since English is not my first tongue, I do not think I will ever be able to get into rapport over the phone. I have managed to master the rest, though. I know I have, because I notice a significant change in the attitude of people after a while.

For example, if I notice that someone is keeping a defensive posture, I make sure that I guide them gradually towards the opposite direction, eg. by unfolding the arms. Similarly, when someone is nervous there are ways to get them to relax. For example, my brother has this terrible habit of tapping his foot on the floor. It just took me a few minutes of the right posture and a finger tap on my knee to get him to stop. Awesome!

Once though it became very embarassing, when I realised that the person in front of me was also using NLP! We acknowledged it and laughed it off in the end.

I can improve these skills only through constant practice.


Using rapport in therapy

I have a client who is very low on energy and has a negative outlook on life. As I sat opposite to her I matched her body posture by slumping down on my seat and tilting my head to the side. I matched her auditorily by speaking slowly with short sentences and a quiet voice. I knew we were in rapport because I felt that we were in sync. I felt the connection and had her trust. Her body posture was relaxed.

After a while I moved the conversation on to outcomes and possibilities. As I did that with my words I also straightened up in my seat and started to smile. I started to speak little faster and with more energy and volume. I was very careful not to overdue it or to be abrupt in any of the changes.

She did follow. She started to sit up little straighter in her seat, her eyes slowly lit up and there was a slight smile on her face. She spoke with little more energy and was open to looking at possible ways to change her situation.

After this teaching I realized that I have not paid enough attention to leading! My focus has been in building rapport but I have not consciously looked at the ways how I can pace and lead. It’s time to step up and lead, not just build rapport.

So my application is to:

1. Learn to observe the minute changes

2. Stop making assumptions

3. Be intentional and conscious about leading


It is about awareness

I have used rapport with my 8 years old. She was very excited and found it hard to calm down. I was successful at creating a rapport. She reached for me, smiled and her eyes were focusing on me. It was like we were both experiencing her excitement.

After a while I slightly changed my breathing (deeper) and did calmer gesture and she followed. I also used a lower tone of voice and talked at a lower rhythm. I feel that I can use these skills with the kids but also in my relationship and during workshops I deliver. It is about awareness; I strongly believe that after making a conscious effort to observe and match or mirror it will become easier, second nature (subconscious competence). Practice makes “permanent”.


Being on the same wavelength

I usually get into rapport  by asking questions and finding some common ground. I have always been very friendly and I find using that ability to communicate connects me to most people. Being in rapport is a lovely feeling of being on the same wavelength as someone, a sense that you’ve ‘ clicked ‘ with them. It always makes me feel relaxed and happy when I know after meeting someone we’ve been in rapport with each other. The other person looks happy, smiley and relaxed… and a little relieved too it has to be said! People haven’t seen me for a very long time and I think are quite nervous of what to say to me or how I will be with them. I often hear back how suprised they are and that if they hadn’t known my story they would never have know that I’ve been out of circulation for so long.

Obviously there will be times that my usual way of getting into rapport won’t be enough. I’m actually very much enjoying meeting people where I need to use the other rapport skills you have taught me. I would love to use NLP as a therapist and I know that this will be when the most difficult situations arise and the need for rapport will be so vital and harder to achieve. I have enjoyed learning all of the options you have to get into rapport with someone. I think to try to do them all at once would NOT be a good idea ,so I would just choose to do a couple, depending on the client, I think cross over mirroring is a brilliant way to cope with more difficult cases.

I need to hone my subtlety in some areas, the phrase “as subtle as a brick” could have been used at first. Thankfully I started practicing on my mother, as people might have thought I was taking the mickey! I have used pacing and leading to get someone back into a more positive state, by talking at a slower speed, in a calm voice. I think this is one of the main things I would use it for and also to get someone to feel very safe with me and open to change. It is a very deep sense of rapport. I loved learning about mirroring, it brought back to me my first ever experience of it. My older cousin had a German pen pal, who came over to visit when I was about 8. I thought she was wonderful and started speaking with her accent-thankfully she didn’t take offence….We were definately in rapport, I can remember her choosing to sit next to ME on the bus and how happy I was that I’d been chosen!


Rapport building in meetings

I worked with a non executive director who was assigned to advise me in my core function.  When I first met her soon after I was appointed, I was very keen to demonstrate to her that I was competent to do the role, was enthusiastic and had some good ideas about how to take the function forward.

She listened patiently to me, and told me that she had met many people like me over the course of her long and distinguished career in Human Resources. She said that I would probably take on too much and burn out. I felt gutted, judged by someone who didn’t know me, and as if I were a child who had been told off by a strict adult.

I spent quite a lot of time afterwards thinking about what had happened and making sense of it. I realised that she had not changed her body position or her voice. I decided to build rapport by mirroring and pacing the next time we met.

In the next meeting, I had a much calmer posture. I matched her still body language and her vocal patterns which were much slower, quieter and more monotonous than mine. I asked her a lot of open questions and made it clear that I wanted to learn from her long experience. I matched her pace and observed her body posture softening and leaning in towards me.

Next, I asked if I could spend time with at work, shadowing her. She was surprised but agreed. I met all her colleagues and created instant rapport with them. I could see out of the corner of my eye that she had noticed this. As the day progressed, I was able to take charge of the relationship, and began to lead, putting some of my natural enthusiasm back into the discussions. Her colleagues responded positively to this, and felt valued by me.

Over the next few weeks, this lady began to acknowledge that I was the senior manager leading on this function, and that her role was to advise me not to take charge.

Using rapport in sales

When getting in rapport I have been using the matching and mirroring a lot. Very often I speak to more than one person at a time and therefore I have to switch the  match and mirror between two people. Today I had a client that was very upset with the service that was delivered by our company in the past. This person sat down and was clearly not ready to communicate. The sales representative tried to talk to the client but the communication did not work at all. The sales person called me over and I sat down with the client. I let the client speak and noticed that there were certain words that he kept on repeating that where not context specific. I also noticed his breathing and the way he was sitting. I mirrored this while he was speaking. When my turn came I used the same type of words (predicates) and speed and tone of voice. Clearly the client felt more at ease and when I slowed down my speed of speaking, so did he. At this stage I knew that we were in rapport.  At a certain moment it was like all was in harmony. When the client was at ease I left the client with the sales person to continue.


I find getting into rapport with others fascinating, however, I found it quite uncomfortable to begin with and although I was able to match and mirror my clients I felt it difficult to pace and lead until I had practised it.  I also found it difficult to match clients that I have been working with for some time and only felt comfortable using these skills with new clients.  I was working with a young girl recently within a counselling setting and was keen to build a trusting relationship with her. Throughout the first session I noticed that she had poor eye contact, head was bent towards her chin and her tonality was very soft and low.  At this stage I began matching her body language and facial gestures. By the following session I increased my techniques by mirroring and matching her physiology, head bent down a little, facial expression which was quite serious, eye contact and also matched her tone of voice and breathing. When I felt I had got into rapport with this young girl and communication and trust had been established, I felt it would be appropriate to attempt leading my client and I discreetly changed my body posture to a more relaxed but positive state and lifted my head up from my chin and increased eye contact. I altered my tonality by making it louder and my speech clearer. Within moments, my client gradually changed the tonality of my voice and had lifted her head slightly and had increased her eye contact. Her body posture relaxed as she sat back in the chair and unfolded her arms and facial expression softened.

Getting into rapport with others can be very effective when working within a therapeutic setting, especially as we communicate with 55% body language, 38% voice tonality and only 7% words. Rapport helps to build trust and effective communication with others and I intend to continue to practice these skills on a regular basis with the clients I am working with in order to make positive changes within them.


A remarkable skill to master

“I found an opportunity to practice pacing and leading another person whilst practicing my rapport skills. The results were astonishing.

I started off matching and mirroring the other persons body movements and body positions, their facial expression and tone of voice. I maintained eye contact throughout.

As I copied by mirroring and matching there was an easy rapport and ambiance between us.

After a while of ensuring a sense of consistent rapport I then decided to radically change my sitting position to then be able to observe what would happen.

I could see that the other person had definitely noticed the shift in my body position because it was very clearly different from the matched and mirrored body position that we had been ‘sharing’.

I could see through their eye movement and the way that they were searching and looking within their neurology that they were deciding how to respond to my body shift.

After a few minutes they began to shift their body position to match my new sitting position. I had shifted my legs from under me as we sat on the floor and as if by magic the other person shifted their own legs to have them sticking out in front of them! They too had made a radical shift in their body position as a result of being paced and then lead by me.

I continued with the exercise of specifically pacing and leading. Later on as they were leaving we were stood talking and I paced and then lead them by first matching and mirroring them, thus maintaining rapport and then deliberately shifting my stance and they followed every time.

It was remarkable to me as I don’t recall having consciously paced and lead another person before.

I think this is a remarkable skill to master and it shows me that rapport, pacing and leading is less about the verbal content of an interaction between people and more about body language, voice, tone, facial expression and the more visceral, primal, subtle ways of communicating with the physical body.
Previously I had assumed that the verbal content and meaning of the language of conversation held more weight. I now feel differently and can realise the importance of building and maintaining rapport using pacing and leading.

I can improve these skills by practicing them at every opportunity and being aware of their effect.
I can use them in all situations to build and maintain rapport and learn more about the power of non-verbal communication. This is clearly a fascinating area of NLP and an enjoyable shift of focus in relations with others. The shift for me being away from verbal to non-verbal.”


More Stories of NLP Rapport building