Communication Without Barriers: Part 2

In last week’s blog Communication Without Barriers: Part 1, we discussed the ups and downs of language barriers when you’re travelling. In part 2 this week, I wanted to look at how important it is to expect the unexpected in every communication you experience. Every experience we go through is different and I guess that’s why we get excited when we have déjà vu! Every person we meet is different, so I often ask myself when I’m meeting new people if in that moment in time I’m doing everything in my power to communicate effectively and get my desired outcome. I want to be sure that I’m making the most out of any connection or communication I have with others. This isn’t just a one-way street; you can’t build communication on your own, and especially not in the same way online as you can face to face. So, in my eyes it’s important to respect that.

In focusing on my communication skills I am enabling myself to effectively communicate at a variety of different levels, depending on my audience. I believe, that being more aware of your communication broadens potential opportunities and you can notice more of what or why you’re doing something worked and how sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. We’re already gaining feedback from just being aware of what, we, ourselves are doing and so in doing this I’ve become much less concerned about the actual words I’ve been using. I’ve learnt there are so many other better ways of communicating and building rapport with other people. Is it about my tone of voice or my body and my movements? Yes, it’s exactly about those things. So what’s the first thing I ask myself?

Am I building rapport?

Am I like the person I’m talking to? Not, do I look like them or do they like me, but am I being like them? How am I moving or talking… what am I doing to create rapport?

At the end of the day, you will meet some people who just don’t care and actively do not want to be like you. The best bit is that, that’s okay – because you don’t have to say anything to make them be like you, you just need to build rapport. The journey from no communication, to building rapport, having a better level of understanding and therefore effective communication will allow you to obtain your desired outcome. Succeeding in your rapport can open doors and possibilities within business, networking, friendships and therefore changes and development within your personal life.

Rapport is the process of matching and mirroring, whereby suggestions are accepted uncritically. This means you can build rapport with someone without liking them and have the ability to get on with anyone by simply using good communication and being responsive. You can even rebuild broken rapport with someone. Being in rapport is like talking to a stranger for 20 minutes and coming out of the conversation feeling like you were hanging out with your best mate, it just feels easy. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

When I look at whether I have that level of rapport with someone, the first thing I do (which is easy) is match the voice using the same speed and tonality. Secondly, I could match their breathing, which is one of the most powerful ways to build rapport. If I were face-to-face with someone I would also concentrate on my movements and use matching and mirroring to really deepen that level of rapport. This is as simple as crossing your legs if the person you’re talking to is sitting that way. It doesn’t have to be complicated! In a rapport-building situation, such as working out if someone is ‘like’ you or ‘likes’ you – an essential part of our communication comes from 55% physiology, 38% tonality and then 7% from our words. So before I continue with my content, I double check my physiology and tonality first to gather information about whether we’ve reached that level of rapport that can lead us to better communication and hopefully a better undertaking of what I might be looking to discuss next. (Whether that’s a sale pitch or query or even socialising in some situations).

We are all experts at building rapport, we do it all the time unconsciously with people we know and like, such as family and close friends. Knowing this, it’s never something to feel uncomfortable or unsure of, we do it all the time and we wouldn’t know if you were actively thinking about it. What’s great about rapport is that if the person you’re talking to starts following your movements you know you’re leading them and this is key to knowing that person is in rapport with you. Bingo.

Am I listening to what they’re saying?

So, we’ve got into rapport, excellent, but am I taking in what the other person is saying? A lot of the time we just don’t listen to one another and when I say listen I mean truly listen. We can learn so much about what others need, want and do, simply by paying more attention and listening to the exact words they use.

It’s true that when we meet people, anyone that is, we tend to assume things about them. This could be down to why they dress a certain way, to their accent, to their body language – anything that can be judged. Well you know what, who cares? This means nothing because when you next meet someone, it could serve you better to remember this and focus on what you can be doing with your own communication to improve it.

Check out how Ben discusses the importance of listening to others’ in his blog here when working with challenging behaviour. His story highlights how listening to the right words is important and enables you to learn about others. Perhaps, even give you a clearer picture of how you can help that person too.

Am I adapting my language for my audience?

So, I’m in rapport, I’ve been listening carefully and have a clear sense of what is being said. Now how am I using my language,  I want to make sure I am getting my desired outcome and getting my point clearly and concisely across in a way that my audience understands. This will differ depending on how that person interacts. Do they like the details or do they prefer the big picture? Make sure what you are saying is hitting home.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve tried to explain something a million times but just aren’t getting through? We don’t all understand things on the same level as one another. For someone who is very detailed it may not click as much when you start describing the broader concepts or ideas of a project. However, I for example am very ‘big picture’, so I like my concepts and ideas and don’t like getting stuck into the detail until I know the general aim. Like we discussed at the start, we’re all different – for me it would help set the scene, but for others it would be very misleading. So, if this was a sales pitch, adapting your level of communication to theirs could be imperative to getting a successful sale.

Going forward we’ll be looking at going into more depth and peeling back the layers of those three key areas in building rapport: physiology, tonality and words.

For more blogs or stories visit the Redwing NLP blog page.

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