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Blog » Matching: a way to help you develop rapport with other people

28 Jul 2018

Matching aspects of the other person’s behaviour is a natural way to help build rapport

One way of helping achieve rapport, so that the other person can feel more comfortable and safe in your presence, is matching: adopting aspects of their behaviour, such as particular body language, gestures, tone of voice or forms of speech.

In everyday life, people tend to do this naturally. When with others, you might suddenly notice that you and the person you're with have adopted the same posture. Or at a social occasion you might notice that people who are getting on well together lift their glasses to drink at the same time. These are natural signs of being in tune, in rapport with each other. Singing and dancing are powerful ways to build rapport because anything that involves moving or breathing in unison works to create rapport.

Although these happen naturally, so can negative signals  - for example crossing our arms when feeling defensive can give the opposite message to someone whose posture is open.  If you are in a role where a sense of rapport is helpful to your work  - for example as a coach or a counsellor  - it's important to  cultivate an awareness of your behaviours  - both positive and negative  - to make sure that it helps rather than hinders the work.

Here are some ways that you can help build rapport with others by matching behaviour:  
  • Posture, eg crossing your legs if they cross theirs, leaning forwards to match their posture. 
  • Voice eg. talking slowly or quietly if the other person is talking that way. 
  • Gesture eg. nodding, or using similar hand or arm movements 
  • Choice of words. eg matching a person who tends to use visually-oriented words might involve saying “The picture I’m getting seems to be …” rather than “It sounds as if …”




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