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Sometimes, you meet someone for the first time, and it's like you have known that person for years, it clicks. You feel comfortable with that person even though you don’t know them that well and yet with another person, how hard you try, you can’t seem to get along with them. How is that possible? How does that work?

Rapport is sometimes described as the "magic feeling" what you can experience from one person to another. With rapport we get direct access to the subconsciousness of others. Rapport is not a technique or method, it is much more an attitude. This attitude is characterized by:

  1. Attention. Paying attention to the other as other.
  2. Respect. Respect for the model of the world of the other.
  3. Tuning. Tuning (follow) in on the other before you lead.

When people are not able to create rapport with each other then communication will have little effect. You sometimes hear the statement: "It is impossible to communicate with him / her". Rapport is a condition that is characterised by mutual respect and receptivity. In such a situation suggestions are accepted unconditionally. If you want to be good in achieving your goals, make sure you are good at creating rapport.

Rapport is the basis of communication. Communication is a process in which a message is sent, the message is internally processed by the other (makes an internal representation) and based on that, a response is given. By placing the process in the communication model, we see that we process the message through our filters, by making an internal representation and communicate our response back through behaviour. This is called the "circle of communication".

The more the messenger and the receiver are involved with respect and mutual receptivity in this circle, the better the communication becomes. People who are really involved with the messenger and his message, will be more open to each other's suggestions, opinions and ideas.

People are willing to follow you if you are willing to follow them, and people love people who are the same as they are. We all know that at an unconscious level. We join up with the people who have the same model of the world as we have.

Rapport is a process responsive to each other and does not necessarily mean that they agree with the opinion and behaviour of the other.

The impact of our communication

To connect to the level of behaviour, it is good to know what elements of our behavior (communication) exists in order to join. Ray Birdwhistell (1918-1994) is one of the people who has done much research on this. His research has shown that our communication consists of three elements, namely:

  • Physiology
  • Tonality
  • Words

Professor Albert Mehrabian (1939) has done much research into the meaning of our communication. In 1971 he published the '7 -38 to 55 rule '. This shows that the importance of our physiology and tonality in our communication is usually larger than we think, and the importance of words is often overestimated.


The investigation has shown that the meaning of our communication consists of 55% from body-language and 38% of the use of the voice. So, for 93% of our communication, we are (often) not aware. The remaining 7% consists of the words we use.

To communicate effectively and meaningfully these three elements should be congruent with each other. Example, if someone says, "I'm not mad at you" in a loud tone, with his arms crossed and not looking at you, you may ask yourself as the recipient “What meaning do I give to this?”.

Mirroring & matching

We establish rapport by discovering or creating corresponding issues. In NLP we call this process Mirroring and Matching. There are many ways to commonly achieve a status of rapport with someone. You can mirror appearances with non-verbal and verbal communication. The combination of non-verbal and verbal is important because words are not enough to create rapport. While ”words " influence one's consciousness, 'physiology' influences the subconscious. To mirror someone it is important that you can observe sharply (sensory acuity) and that you have a great personal flexibility.


With mirroring, we fully mirror the other. For example, we completel take over the physiology of the other. NLP basic principle 3 reads: "Body and mind influence each other." A certain physiology belongs to a certain mood and internal representation. By mirroring the physiology we get access to the mood and even the internal representation of people. The aim is not to obtain unauthorized information from people, but rather to obtain better contact, based on empathy.


With matching we tune in on a particular element of the physiology, the use of voice (tone) or words of the other. Matching is mirroring of one element of the verbal or non-verbal communication of the other. Matching means equality and understanding. For example, people with the same voice feel that they understand each other. Matching on verbal grounds is agreeing with someone. You acknowledge, in principle, the others model of the world. When mirroring we experience the internal representation (world model) of the other, with matching we maintain our own model of the world.

Cross-over Mirroring

With cross-over mirroring we take over, with another part of the body, a certain movement of the other person. For example, using your hand to make the same breathing movement as the other person.


The opposite of matching is mismatching. To consciously or unconsciously turn away from or not tune in to the other. A clear form of mismatching is to not look at someone during an interview. People do this consciously or unconsciously. Such as "Yes" is an expression of matching is "No" an expression of mismatching. Another, more covert, form is, "Yes, but". By matching, we focus on the similarities or equality and mismatching on the differences or inequalities.

Indicators of rapport

When do we know we have rapport with someone? When there is a report, several of these indicators are present.

  1. A feeling inside (warmth, peace, confidence, security).
  2. The skin color (of the face) changes.
  3. Verbal phrases such as "I know you from somewhere?".
  4. From following to leading.

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