The Structure of Real Rapport

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.

Many thanks


Sean McPheat


Managing Director

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Updated on: 9 May, 2012

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