Rapport seems to be the hottest topic out there when it comes to influence and persuasion experts. NLP courses are taught all over the world that spend a significant amount of time on this subject. Everyone seems to agree that there is something mystical maybe even magical about the phenomenon of rapport.


Rapport is the ability to enter someone else's world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond.

Tony Robbins

Most definitions of rapport are as follows:

rap·port (noun):  Relation marked by harmony, conformity, accord or affinity. Connection.

At the Institute for the Studies of Professional Influence (I.S.P.I.). We have our own working definition of rapport.

"Intense rapport."

Our working definition is as follows:

in·tense rap·port: A highly concentrated feeling of being understood by another person.PISEALRED

You may recall events where you met someone for the first time. There you were, you just met him and instantly disliked him? You did not know why but you just knew that there was something you didn't like about him. As you think back now, you may recall that there was very little (at that moment) that would have changed your opinion of that person.

On the other hand, you probably also remember having the opposite experience. You met someone and instantly liked them. You felt as though you had known them for years. An instant connection was made. Your were comfortable with that person. Your sense of humor matched as did your world view. This all left you feeling as though you had known this person for years.

This phenomenon happens every day. Sciences like NLP have discovered that rapport is triggered by factors that can be controlled by the people in question and that is what makes this chapter so powerful. Seriously, you will be amazed at how this information will transform you into "that guy."


Ever know someone that just has that special knack for connecting with people? No matter who they meet, where they are, they strike up a conversation with others and are instantly loved and trusted by seemingly complete strangers.

In the past, it was believed that this was some sort of natural gift. Something they were born with. The fact of the matter is that anyone can learn this skill. Developing rapport is a skill that we teach with regularity. It is part of the Professional Influence Certification program as well as taught in our NLP courses.

Knowing how to build and maintain rapport with someone is major factor in determining your ultimate success. Once learned you can apply this to anything and everything you do in life. Intense rapport has helped people get promotions, merge companies, raise children, build legendary relationships and just about ever other meaningful thing you can imagine.

Rapport is about establishing an environment in which respect, trust and understanding is present. This allows the prospect to fully express his/her ideas. They do so willingly because they know that their offering will be respected and appreciated by you.

Rapport creates the space for the person to feel listened to. When you are in rapport with another person, you have the opportunity to enter their world and see things from their perspective, feel the way they do, get a better understanding of where they are coming from; and as a result, enhance the relationship.


It is the express purpose of this chapter to convince and persuade you that you don't have to hope and wait for rapport to occur "naturally." You can, in fact, jump start the phenomenon of rapport.



Understand that each person has a "model of the world." As discussed in the last chapter, The phrase "model of the world" implies that their are many ways to perceive reality.

Remember the Janet Jackson story in the last chapter? Experiences like this should serve to humble us. The only thing we can know with certainty is there are other ways to see the world. Rest assure that those with whom you want to persuade have their own model of the world. The amateur tries to fight it by force feeding their own model onto the prospect. The Professional Influencer, on the other hand, works to understand and respect the others model of the world. Once you have done that you have taken the first step to building rapport. Then and only then are you in a prime position to be persuasive.

BE EMPATHETICempathetic-listening

Regardless of his/her personal views, the Professional Influencer truly understands that people have a reason for believing the way they do. More importantly, the Professional Influencer recognizes that these beliefs carry powerful emotions within them. This demands that we are empathetic to these emotions. That does not mean that we have to share those views or even pretend to. Remember our working definition of rapport is; the feeling of being understood by another person. That does not mean that we have to approve of any specific behavior. Recognizing their position and being empathetic is enough. Once we have done that, it's easier to get on their level.


2. SEEK COMMON GROUNDstickman-puzzle-bridge800

Lets be clear here. In no way would we suggest that a sales person suck up to a client. This type of amateurish behavior only shows poor character and lets face it, nobody likes a suck up. In most cases the perceptiveness of the clients unconscious mind is so powerful that it will pick up on this distasteful trait. You will be generalized as a blue suede shoes, stereotypical. used car salesman. Clearly the professional will do everything in their power to avoid being put in this box.

We do, however, recognize that common ground can be found on almost any subject regardless of how seemingly apart two sides seem to be. Both pro and anti gun rights advocates can all agree that criminals and mentally ill people should not be permitted to carry a gun. Pro and anti war proponents usually agree that there are some instances where a country needs to protect its citizens. An Oakland Raider fan can agree that John Elway was a great quarterback. You might not like a certain recording artist but you can still recognize that they have a special talent.


Imagine you are far from home. Perhaps in another country. While there you meet someone that lives in your hometown. In that scenario, there would be an immediate sense of connection. You would be compelled to ask questions of each other. An automatic feeling of alignment would overcome you. That sense of connection creates an instant rapport between two people! Of all the people you meet on your journey you trust this person the most. Rapport almost always leads to trust.

Think of ways that you might connect with your prospects.dave matthews band Use questions to discover some personal information about them. Do their kids play sports? You can't believe how important that is to some parents. Perhaps you attended the same school, like to vacation in the same destinations, root for the same sports team. These all serve to bind people together. If you doubt any of that, go up to a fan of the Dave Matthews Band and ask him/her about what they love about that band. The Dave Matthews Band has the single most committed fans in the world. Just mention your favorite song and you are immediately in the club.


Remember Professional Influence Law #5 - The Romeo and Juliet Pattern? Nothing binds two people, a group or community together more than sharing a common enemy. Its great for rapport to find out what others like, it is even more beneficial to find out what they dislike. In both cases you are communicating unconsciously that the two of you share the same beliefs and values.

3. MATCH AND MIRROR PHYSIOLOGYmatching-mirroring-president

Have you ever noticed that when friends get together, they tend to act and even sound alike? Some describe this as "chemistry." What we have learned however is the there is more to it. There is actually a mechanism behind the phenomenon.  Behavioral research shows that people actually do these things when they are in rapport.

Researchers at the Boston University Medical School studied films of people having conversations. These researchers began to notice that the people talking began to unconsciously mimic each others movements. This included eye blinks, head nods, gestures and even the way they sat in chairs. Additionally when they monitored the subjects using electroencephalographs, they found some of their brain waves were spiking at the same moment. The longer this took place the deeper the level of rapport.

This all goes to say that trust begins to "naturally" occur as we unconsciously match and mirror each others body language, word cadence, phraseology and mannerisms. What is even more amazing is that research now shows that, one who is out of rapport can actually "jump start" rapport by using their physiology to ignite the process.

Remember "that guy?" The one that is so charismatic? Turns out, in most cases, that guy doesn't even know why he is so persuasive. These people instinctively use their body to match and mirror others. Studies show that he walks into a room, approaches a person and immediately begins to match and mirror the other person. How cool is that?

Matching and mirroring can be learned and is a skill that you can cultivate and use over a lifetime to improve relationships, get the account, and pretty much get your way through most of your life. Here is how it works.

MATCHING: If you were sitting across from someone and both of your raised right hand, you would be matching that person.

MIRRORING: If you were sitting across for that same person and he raised his right hand and you raised your left, you would then be mirroring that person. Just as you look at yourself in the mirror, your hands would be directly across from each other.

For our purposes, there is no real need to get into more detail on the differences and which should be used more. The reality is that they both work to efficiently melt into a state of rapport with the client.

4. BE SUBTLEmatching-mirroring-wine

When we teach this skill in our Professional Influence Certification Course, we are often asked if the client will notice that they are being mimicked. That is a great question and the answer is NO! Be reasonable here. The Influencer must possess a sense of balance.


It is not advised to match and mirror every single movement. If the person scratches his nose, resist the urge to fire up your hand and scratch your nose. Pause! Wait for a moment or two and then very subtly make a similar gesture. A good rule of thumb is to wait 10 seconds, and then shift your body in the same way.

CAUTION: If the client thinks you are mimicking them, they will be offended. Perhaps thinking that you are mocking them. With that said, I have never personally seen someone get caught in the act. It is truly a natural reaction.

So adjust your own body language to "reflect" that of the person you're talking to. A dear friend of mine worked in law enforcement for over 30 years. His specialty was in interviewing rapist. During the interview he would match and mirror everything about the sick rapist across the table. He truly got into their sick model of the world and in no time he would have a confession. The perpetrator trusted him.

5. MATCH AND MIRROR POSTUREmatching-mirroring-bush

Is your client standing tall? Is the shoulders slumped or erect. Are they leaning to the left or right? Are they holding something, perhaps a pen or coffee cup. Observe how your client moves. Do they adjust in their chair quickly or are their movements sluggish. All of these traits can and should be matched.


Facial expressions such as raising eyebrows are meaningful. If they raise their eyebrows, raise yours to acknowledge their emotion. The same holds true with head nods. When the person you wish to persuade is nodding their head, instantly nod back to signal affirmation. Remember the diagram in the previous chapter. The unconscious mind is sorting through 2,000,000 bits of information for something to focus on. Facial expressions and head nods do no usually make the cut. Meaning, the unconscious mind stores it, understands it and uses is to signal to the conscious mind that you are like them. This feeling of comfort is vital to rapport.


Everyone has a speech pattern. Take note of the cadence and tone in which your prospect is delivering his words. This voice matching tactic is used by law enforcement professionals like my friend. Even the FBI has done research to show that this is an effective way way to establish rapport. It's very subtle, but it makes the other person feel comfortable and, most importantly, it makes them feel that they're being understood.


Language is an amazing thing. Why do we use certain words over others. Simply put, because we like them. Take note in your conversations with others that they have certain words and phrases that they like to use. These words and phrases are keys to rapport.

We have a student that was having a terrible time with one of his bosses. To be specific, it was the President of his company. They sat in board meetings every week and there was clearly something misaligned between the two of them. After reminding our student that he had the power to build rapport, he began to take note of the speech patterns of the companies President. It didn't take long for our student to notice that his adversary often used the term "at the end of the day."

He would say things like "We need to get this project done because at the end of the day that is why we are all here."

When it came time for our student to talk in the meeting he began to incorporate the President's body language, speech cadence and now his specific language patterns. He would communicate his ideas and make sure to say things like. "That is why we need to use my plan for completion because at the end of the day it is the most efficient and cost effective way to get the job done."

Words matter because we generally like the words we chose. If you like what I like, then we must see things the same way. You and I do not pick up on this nuance consciously, however rest assured that our incredible unconscious minds do.


When listening to the person you want to persuade, notice the type of words used. Is it complicated? Do they use more words than needed? If the person speaks in technical language, then match that style if appropriate. Are they using simple and direct words? If so, you should too. When you respond, match the style. People that use simple words do not usually feel connected to people that are prone to try and impress with a sophisticated vernacular.


Does your subject talk loud or soft? In either case you will want to match the volume. There are so many filters that create someones volume. Past experiences and beliefs have been formed that decide the level of volume someone chooses to speak with. When we match that volume we communicate that we have had similar experiences and therefore are the same.

11. MATCH SPEEDcompetition brackets 800 clr 9266

Some people talk really really fast while others speak very s-l-o-w-l-y. Fast talkers could possibly view a slow talker as unintelligent. In like manner, a fast talker might appear overly slick to a slow talker.


A good example of this is something referred to as "cross mirroring" or "cross matching." If they cross their arms, you can cross your legs. A movement like this is so covert that it goes completely unnoticed. Then after ten seconds you can slowly uncross your legs and begin to cross your arms.


There is a crazy story about Milton Erickson and how he would match and mirror the breathing of a subject by simply noticing their pulse from a vibration on the subjects neck. Cool story but not very realistic or practical for everyday use. Just remember this. When they are talking they are exhaling.

14. LEADING AND PACING (Waking the Zombie)stickman shepherd sheep 500 clr 6224

Sometimes students will put a lot of time and energy into practicing how to effectively match and mirror but they forget one of the key elements to jump starting rapport. That is leading and pacing.

Pretend that you get a real lethargic prospect. He comes in talking very slowly and looks as though he could fall asleep at any moment. You know that his current level of excitement is not sufficient to move him to take action today on your offering. Some sales people will try and blast the prospect with enthusiasm in hopes that it will raise the level of excitement within the prospect. Strangely enough, this will at times work. Most of the time, however, it fails. The blunt force trauma of enthusiasm only serves to break rapport.

One of our star students, Suzy McGowan, learned to master the art of leading a pacing. Leading and pacing is generally defined as the act of following the tempo of the person that you are talking to. Once you have matched their body language, speech patterns and other traits that we have covered, you are now in a position to "lead" the prospect into a more upbeat and exciting pace.

Suzy would meet the slow lethargic client at his or her own level. She would lower her head and say "It i-s r-e-a-l-l-y n-i-c-e t-o m-e-e-t y-o-u." The zombie would begin to feel comfortable with Suzy. Once rapport had been established, she would slowly begin to increase her rate of speed (pick up her pace). Sure enough, the client would begin to show signs of life. He would begin to pace Suzy (or is it the other way around?) By the time she got to the crescendo or her presentation, the zombie had been cured and had joined the living. He was now bouncing off the walls with excitement. "How much is this? I really want it."

The Professional Influencer knows that pacing and leading is essential to building intense rapport.

SOMETIMES YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO SAY ANYTHINGProfessionalInfluenceFinalLogoFilesLogo14Logo14

Recently we were assisting a technology company. As they were giving their presentation to the group of prospects it was clear that they had no rapport with the group of prospects. My partner and I were sitting there quietly nodding our heads as the presentation droned on. I am a little embarrassed to admit that the topic was so technical that my partner and I had no idea what they were talking about. NONE!

Instead, we focused on matching and mirroring the head prospect. He was a high strung gentlemen who shifted around a lot in his seat. My partner and I shifted too. We matched his head nods, facial expressions (usually ones of disgust) and we crossed our arms just as he was doing. We also noticed that when he spoke he used the phrase "in and of itself" pretty frequently.

After the Vice President of the company (our client) finished his presentation, he was met with an unusual amount of disgust from the head prospect. He really gave it to the VP. Then, amazingly, he looked directly at my partner and I and said "You understand what I am talking about. right?"

Really? We had not said a word and had zero grasp on the issue being discussed. We simply replied "look, you want this to work and that in and of itself is enough to move forward, right?"

He looked at both of us and said. "Exactly. you speak my language. I'll send over the specs, if you can make it work we will accept your proposal."


The basis and foundation for every meaningful interaction between two or more people is rapport! It never ceases to amaze us how well this works. Once you have aligned with another person, they want to do business with you. They will turn down cheaper bids, perks and bribes from your competitors. This law of Professional Influence is the easiest to learn but hardest to master. Meaning, that anyone can do it and enjoy immediate success. There are some, however, that will read this and really commit to going to the next level. We have some students that do things you would never think possible. Masters of this skill can get people from across the room to exhibit certain behaviors, they persuade local companies to give them discounts, they get upgraded most every time they fly and they are never ever alone.

One student described it like Obi Wan Kenobi riding up on Skywalker's land speeder.obiwan Stopped by the Stormtroopers, Kenobi uses his Jedi mind tricks and says "These are not the droids you are looking for" An exaggeration for sure. Read and re-read this chapter. Then practice it on your local bartender, dry cleaner or love interest. You will have stories that most people would simply not believe. Rest assured we will believe them, in fact send us an email and tell us the stories of your own Jedi mind tricks ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

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