You know that the best way to influence another person is to build rapport first. The best way to do this with integrity and honesty is through a process called Matching.
Matching is the process where you adjust the same aspects of your external behaviour to approximate those same aspects of the other person’s external behaviour.
Because most of our body language that we exhibit is at the subconscious level, we rarely, if ever, are aware of the exact signals our body is giving off. Therefore, if someone else matches us, we are likely to only register it at that subconscious level, and not be consciously aware of what is happening.
The ongoing process of matching is called Pacing; that is, you move as the other person moves, matching their sequence of movements.
But what can you use to match another person? This list offers a variety of behavioural outputs to match that can lead to very powerful states of Rapport. Mastering the art of matching will develop your ability (and give you choices) to establish rapport with whoever you choose:
Whole body matching: Adjust your body to approximate the other person’s postural shifts
Body part matching: Pacing any consistent or stylistic use of body movements, e.g the pace of eye blinking
Half-body matching: Match the upper or lower portion of the person’s body
Head/shoulder angle patterns: Match characteristic poses that the other person shows with their head or shoulders
Vocal (analogue) qualities: Match shifts in tonality, tempo, volume, timbre and intonation patterns
Verbal: Hear and use the sensory system predicates and match and pace the system of representational systems (like visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) that the other uses
Facial expressions: See the way the other person uses their face to express themselves
Gestures: There may be specific things the person does to express themselves with gestures. Make sure any matches are done elegantly and respectfully. Don’t copy, as this will be seen as mimicking
Repetitive phrasing: Hear and utilise the repeated phrases of the other person
Breathing: Adjust your breathing pattern to match the other person’s
Indirect matching: Using one aspect of your behaviour to match a different aspect of the other person’s behaviour, e.g. adjust the pace of your voice to match their breathing pattern, or pacing the other’s eye blinks with your head nods
As you can see, there are many ways to build bodily rapport with someone. Just make sure you do it with respect and with integrity. That way, your rapport will be genuine and recorded only at the subconscious level. This leads to effortless connection and influence with the other person. When you are able to do this, your overall communication with other people can only improve.
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.