Whether you are taking the lead in a meeting or are simply a participant, establishing a connection with the other stakeholders in the room is the key to a successful and fruitful interaction. And it’s not always about what you say. There are several non-verbal techniques that can come into play.
Mirroring and matching
Creating a rapport or “Rapport Conditioning” with one or more people at a time can be like looking at a reflection of yourself – or at least that’s part of it.
The subtle art of mirroring and matching in NLP practice, among other techniques, helps build a rapport by adapting your body language.
Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson conducted a variety of studies on unconscious human cues, and he concluded that mirroring and matching were the hidden keys to establishing rapport.
Largely, this is a sensory and non-verbal technique that adapts tone, speed and volume of voice, and body language.
How does it work?
Mirroring and matching is about observation and subtle emulation. Observe the movement of the person – or people – you’re meeting with. What kind of posture have they adopted? Are their arms folded or are they at their sides? Perhaps they’re leaning in towards you with their hands on the table.
Each of these examples can mean something different, but building a rapport through mirroring and matching means that the NLP practitioner will “synchronise” with the subject’s posture.
You may notice, if you observe groups of friends together, that they often move or gesture in similar manners. Tone of voice is also generally matched. This is because, on a subconscious level, they have established a rapport. Similar observations in a formal business setting can also help you identify who is the formal or informal leader of the group.
Subconscious is the key word here. Mirroring and matching is not about making yourself a “carbon copy” of the person you are interacting with. It’s more subtle than that.
Gently mirror head movements, or gesture with your hands in a similar way when you respond to them. Subtly work in similar movements after a short period of time, otherwise you may simply come across as annoying.
If you want to understand about the most subtle elements of mirroring and matching – research micro-muscle movements.
How do you know when you’ve achieved rapport?
It’s quite simple, really. Mirroring and matching is a two-way street. If you continue to observe the person you’re meeting with, and find that they seem to be emulating your movements, tone, mannerisms or eye movements, you have established rapport.
Creating an anchor
We all respond to certain stimuli in natural ways. In NLP, anchoring is the process that occurs when you conduct an action in expectation of an “anchored” response.
Once you have used mirroring and matching to establish a rapport with the person you’re meeting with, anchoring involves using a certain sound, gesture or tactile experience to elicit a state of recall, and thus, an expected response.
Creating an anchor can only occur when you have established a personal connection with the subject. And there are three kinds of anchors you can explore beyond this blog: Collapsing Anchors, Chaining Anchors and Stacking Anchors.
If ever you get to see Frank Pucelik, one of the founders of NLP, do a demo of coaching you’ll see non-verbal anchoring mastery. A slight nod, a small hand gesture, particular puzzled look on the face and his client knows (unconsciously) exactly how to add to the previous statement they just made. It moves the exchange along seamlessly. The client (through deep rapport) feels secure and in the hands of an expert.
With training and practice we can all adopt these skills and with positive intention help all our meetings, or personal interactions progress in an effortless, efficient and effective way. Better for everyone.