Communication is a cycle that usually involves a minimum of two people. It’s hard to communicate to another person if they are asleep or at worst dead! For the communication cycle to work you must have the willing participation of the two parties in the communication exchange.
It usually works like this; you say something, the other person thinks briefly about what’s been said and gives a response.
Of course other things play a part in this exchange, your body posture, facial expressions and your gestures. Not only that your internal thoughts and feelings have an impact on the cycle of communication.
When all these factors are taken into account, it’s hard to NOT communicate. You will convey a message even if you remain silent. Recognising that communication is so important in all that we do the question is often asked; “How can I communicate better?”
The answer of course is to understand that the meaning of communication is the response that you get.
To enable the best response you must enter the cycle whilst appreciating the other person’s understanding of the world. The simplest way to do this is to get in rapport. Communication flows so much easier when two people are in rapport. Rapport creates good communication and good communication creates trust.
People who are in rapport tend to mirror and match each other’s body posture, gestures and voice patterns. Have you been to a coffee shop and noticed couples that are deep in conversation sitting, facing each other in mirror reverse poses. Those in deep rapport will even mimic each other’s breathing patterns without even realising it!
Successful communicators create rapport and you can do so too simply by observing your communication partner. Most people have rapport skills, the secret is to refine them for everyday use. The starting point is to make eye contact, the next is to mirror the other person’s posture. Mirroring is not mimicry and must be done in a way that is not exaggerated.
Matching the way the other person is sitting is a good place to start. Notice how they distribute their body weight and do the same. Follow this with small movements to mimic their gestures, move your hand to match their arm movement or move your head to match their body movement. Remember when people are like each other they begin to actually like each other.
Keep an open mind about rapport and give it a try next time you begin a conversation with someone. Notice what happens when you don’t mirror your communication partners posture, notice what happens when you do. Notice particularly what happens when you deliberately do the opposite of what they do. This is called mismatching. Mismatching is just as useful if you need to disengage with someone.
Remember creating rapport is your choice and only you will know the results if you try it.