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Mirroring 2.0 – Rapport Building and NLP

Mirroring 2.0 - VisualThis post describes neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and how it can be used as a tool to help you build rapport with new acquaintances.  NLP describes 3 different styles.  The idea is to understand your own style, identify the style of your new acquaintance, and adjust your style to match or mirror that of your acquaintance. Doing so will help you put your acquaintance at ease and allow you to build rapport with that person.

NLP describes 3 different modes: visual, audio, and kinesthetic.  Each of us tends to have a dominant mode.  You can identify that mode by a number of factors such as rate of speech, body posture and eye movement.  When in visual mode, a person tends to speak quickly and tends to lean forward when sitting.  When recalling memories, the visual person’s eyes tend to flick upward.  A person in audio mode tends to speak at a moderate rate and tends to sit upward or slightly back.  The person’s eyes tend to move from side-to-side when recalling memories.  Finally, the person in kinesthetic mode tends to speak quite slowly with many pauses and tends to lean back in a very relaxed posture when sitting. The kinesthetic-mode person’s eyes tend to flick downwards when recalling memories.

The first step is to identify your own style.  Once you are aware of your own style, then you can determine if you need to adjust your style to better match that of your acquaintance. For instance, if you identify as a visual person you find yourself speaking with another visual person, it is likely that both of you will feel at ease speaking with one another and rapport building can ensue. On the other hand, if you are speaking with a kinesthetic-mode person, you may find yourself talking over that person or finishing their sentences for them.  Likely, this will be frustrating for you and off-putting to the kinesthetic person. Having the goal of building rapport with your new acquaintance, it is incumbent on you to adjust your NLP style to match that of your acquaintance. When you encounter a person with a style that is different from yours, you will want to slow down or speed up to match the style of your acquaintance.  Also, you will be aware to adjust your body posture to match that of your acquaintance.  Knowing your own style and tendencies will give you the knowledge you need to understand how to make the adjustments necessary to match the style of your acquaintance.

As with mirroring physical appearance as described in the previous blog,  mirroring NLP styles will allow you to put a new acquaintance at ease and allow you to begin establishing rapport.

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About the Author

A seasoned high tech leader with over 20 years of leadership and technology experience, Matt Schlegel provides consulting services in the areas of team leadership, product development, and manufacturing partnerships. Matt founded Enncorporation to deliver collaboration tools that help clients align teams around strategic initiatives and operate their businesses more effectively. After graduating from Harvey Mudd College with a degree in Engineering and UC San Diego with an MS in Electrical Engineering/Applied Physics, Matt was granted a Mombusho Scholarship to conduct research at the University of Tokyo. The following 3 years were spent living, studying and working in Japan. Leaving Japan, Matt returned to his native San Francisco Bay Area where he has spent nearly 20 years working in a number of engineering, management and consulting roles.
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