I’ve been a fan of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) for years. One area of NLP is the study of communication between people and how it can be improved. I find that when you practice finding ways to build rapport with others you improve the chance of having your message heard.
This is obviously important to you if you work in sales. It’s also important as a supervisor or manager in your company and most importantly with your family. I know that from time to time I’ve totally missed it when trying to talk with someone else. When this happens it’s usually because I haven’t communicated in a way that the person I’m communicating with receives information well.
The map is not the territory. This is one of the sayings you see in NLP literature. What it means is that your belief system and somebody else’s might not be the same. It also could be that your communication style just doesn’t match the other person you’re communicating with.
I often find that this is true with me when I talk with engineers. My preferred way of communicating with others is to sketch and outline and let others fill in the blanks. I find that when I speak with people who need details like engineers that unless I get very specific about what I’m talking about I quickly lose these people. I’ve learned that I can’t communicate in my style to be effective, I need to communicate in your style.
Rapport must exist when collaboration is important. Without rapport there is no trust. Without trust your message never gets across. Rapport happens when both you and the person you’re communicating with are on the same page. Rapport often happens when you have the same core beliefs with others.
If you believe that customers are always right and I believe that customers are often wrong our rapport will not be very good. If I work for you with this belief you’ll likely ask me to leave your company. Having everyone in your company on the same page from a cultural point of view is important. Without everyone being on the same page, it’s easy to not have rapport with those you work with.
Understanding how others communicate allows you to get your message across. You have a way you prefer to receive information. We all have one. For me, I prefer to have you talk with me or write me a note. You might prefer that I show you how things get done. Still another person might want to feel whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
Most people have a preference in their communication style. They might be visual where they want to see things, be auditory where they want to hear things or kinesthetic where they want to feel things. In reality you are likely a combination of all three, but have a preference for one mode over another.
With practice you can find out what the preferred method of communication of others is. Do they lean forward, do they sit back? Does the person you’re talking with use words like I see what you want to do? If so, they likely prefer to be shown things instead of told about what you want to do.
Learning to join someone else’s world is a key to great communicators. Anyone can become better, it just takes practice.
I’ve written a case study on how to hire for unique abilities. This talks about how you identify what’s important in a potential member of your team. If you’re interested in getting a copy of this case study, click on the button below.