Sometimes, the best way of using rapport is by breaking it! 💯
Rapport - Pronounced as ra·paw, means a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.
Behavioural studies show that, when we really like someone, when we feel fully connected with that person, we build rapport immediately, because there is trust, and the sense of belonging. We are from the same pack. 🥰
Rapport is easily seen amongst adolescents: they tend to dress the same way, speak and gesticulate the same way, like the same things, go to the same places, so on and so forth…
And you might say, "But hey Tulia, isn't it clear that building rapport is an important skill to have in communication, building relationships and, consequently, in leadership?
"What do you mean when you say that sometimes breaking rapport is the best thing to do?"
True. I like to call it "reverse rapport" (I just made it up by the way 😉).
Here is what I mean. In order to build Rapport successfully, we need to emulate, macht, and synchronise the other person's gestures, physical expressions, verbal expressions, and energy level.
For instance, mastering rapport is essential for a successful negotiation.💯
However… What about if the situation becomes tense? If the conversation becomes difficult? Where the energy, the gestures, the verbal language are all exacerbated?
Building Rapport would escalate the situation, wouldn't it?
I attack, you attack back…
I shout, you shout back and louder…
I don't give in, you become more stubborn…
Then you might say, "that is logical Tulia, no news on that. Rapport wouldn't be the best strategy when there is conflict with the other side of the conversation."
True. And that is what I meant about "breaking rapport". However… It is easier said than done.
At the moment we are in a conflictive situation, our basic instincts are activated, and we go into fight or flight mode. If we are not "present and grounded", if we haven't developed the skills of self-control, self-awareness, self-leadership, it is quite easy to fall into the same level of energy as the other conflictive side, because we feel in danger and we react to protect ourselves.
And this is what happens to us in our daily lives when we face difficult and challenging situations, and conversations.
We react! Instead, we should stop, think and act.
Taking action is a conscious decision, a reaction is not. And, unfortunately, I know, you know it, I'm not going to say anything new here: a great majority of people live in reactive mode.😱
What to do? Taking a conscious decision to change that.
Here is my suggestion on how to get started when facing a difficult conversation.
The next time you feel "attacked" by someone…
✅ Stop, and listen. You will need extra attention, self-awareness and self-control, in order to listen clearly. Under stress we lose a great deal of our hearing capacity. Fact.
✅ Remove yourself from the target line. Don't take it personally. In the majority of cases, it is not personal, even if it looks like… trust me (more on that soon)
✅ Ask questions. Ask to make sure you understand the other person's point. Ask to understand what is behind the attack. By asking to repeat what was said, you are also "forcing" the other person to reassess her own reasons for attacking, and that might even calm her/him down, or not.
✅ Reframe what is said. Repeat what the other person said, giving your own interpretation, to make sure you understood correctly the situation. If not, repeat the whole process.
✅ Fine tune your senses. Be present, be grounded, be focused. Don't listen to that voice which will be screaming in our head wanting you to fall into the reaction/attack more. It is an extra effort, because, as I mentioned before, under stress our hearing capabilities are reduced, and so our peripheral vision.
Becoming a conscious communicator requires vigilance and practice. I won't lie to you, it is quite a challenge in the beginning, being present, being listening attentively with the intention of understanding what is beyond what is said. However, the benefits are enormous.
So, let's continue this conversation.
Subscribe to follow this conversation.
I'll be sharing stories and solutions about how to deal with difficult conversations in the next upcoming weeks.
Maybe you also have a story to tell... let me know. I would love to hear that. 🌹
And, if you need support on how to deal with difficult conversations, contact me.