Ah, the good ole days. What happened to the days when you could open up your shop and be the only butcher, baker, repairman, etc in town?

The answer is “Progress.” Progress brought with it more things to do and make money at, but it also brought with a wave of non-stop competition.

In this new paradigm, uniqueness is no longer an option. Also, price, service and quality are barely helpful as marketing factors. Basically, everybody’s got the same everything.

So how do you differentiate yourself? How can you get new customers, keep old ones and – most of all – build positive word of mouth about you and your site?

The answer is simple: Build Rapport.

But what is “rapport,” and how do I build it?

Well, the Random House Dictionary defines rapport as “A harmonious or sympathetic relationship.”

For our purposes, rapport is creating a good relationship with your customers, so that they like you and trust you and do more business with you, and help drive more prospective customers to your facility.


Perhaps you’re wondering just how important rapport really is.

Well, there is nothing – nothing – in your life or your world that is not in some way shape or form the result of rapport.

The car you drive was designed by people who established rapport, so they could work well together and create a car.

The food that you eat is made, packaged and shipped by a company made up of people who created rapport to make sure the operation of the company (creating your food) goes on like clockwork.

Even your own body is the result of rapport. If your parents didn’t have rapport – very good rapport – with one another, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

As you can see, in both your personal and business lives, you need rapport to get what you want and need.

But remember - rapport is not a ‘sometimes’ thing. It is an ‘all the time’ thing. Every interaction that you have with another human being, no matter how slight, is a rapport-moment.

If you’re not conscious of yourself and your actions in your rapport-moments, you may create negative rapport with the other person.

So it is vitally important that you understand and command your rapport skills. After all, since you are creating rapport anyway you might as well create good rapport.


There are four aspects of rapport: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Physical.

We, obviously, do not have the time to go into all four aspects in this article, so we will concentrate on the physical aspect and how you can use it in your daily business.


In the study of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) there are two techniques that help people build positive rapport with others. These techniques are called “Mirroring” and “Matching.”

As you may have guessed, Mirroring is the act of being like a mirror and copying the movements of the other person.

You can copy everything about the person’s body; their posture, their hand and leg movements, their facial expression, even the timing of their blinking.

The key is to not be obvious when you mirror. If you purposely do everything they do at the moment they do it, they will notice and you will instantly create very bad rapport.

EXERCISE: next time you are sitting down and talking with someone, notice their body. Just allow yourself to notice at first.

After you feel comfortable with just noticing their body, then begin to put your body in the same posture as their’s. Don’t do it all at once. Do it one piece at a time.

Give yourself 20 seconds between movements until you are “mirroring” their posture.

Once you feel adept at mirroring static postures, then move on to mirroring actions.

Notice if the person touches their chin once in a while or if they stretch their back every so often or if they turn to scan the room every few minutes. Watch for any short-duration action they do as you two talk.

Give yourself 15 to 20 seconds after they are done and then you do the same movement. But be sure to be subtle about it. If the movement feels “wrong” to you then don’t force it or they will notice it.

As you get better at mirroring you can cut the time down from 20 seconds delay to 3 or 4 seconds of delay. Also, make sure to always remain subtle in your actions.

I’d recommend practicing these techniques with your family or staff before using it with customers. By the way, building great rapport can also have positive effects in your personal relationships and with your employees.


After you feel comfortable with Mirroring you can move on to Matching.

There are five factors in Matching: Modality, Voice, Breathing, Data Size, and Commonality.


In NLP the first step in the Matching process is matching the person’s “modality.”

We could spend a lot of time explaining the modalities here, but that would get us off track. So for a full understanding of the NLP modalities check out the book ‘The User’s Manual for the Brain,’ By Bob G. Bodenhamer and L. Michael Hall.

To make modality matching really simple, just try to match the other person’s energy-level. (i.e. Are they excited? Are they calm? Are they morose?)


The next step in Matching is matching the other person’s voice. This consists of matching the volume at which they speak, the speed at which they speak, the tone in which they speak, and the quality of their voice.

You can also use some of their key words or catch phrases.

For example, if they like to say “excellent idea,” you can begin to throw that into your own statements as well.

As with Mirroring, Matching is all about subtlety. You’ll want to start slow and ramp up gradually so the other person doesn’t notice.

Make sure to watch the reactions of your partner as you do your voice matching. If you notice their face becoming confused or disturbed when you’re matching, it means your timing or style is off. So ease back and try again a little later.


The next Matching process is matching the other person’s breathing.

Simply focus on their breathing for a little while. Notice the speed at which they breath, and when they are breathing in and when they are breathing out. Also notice how long they pause between breaths and if they are breathing deep or shallow.

As you watch their breathing you should naturally begin to feel your body matching it. If not, give your body a little conscious help and soon you’ll be on the same breathing pattern as they are.

Remember, you are trying to mirror the other person subtly and smoothly. If, for some reason, the breathing pattern is not working well for you, and it’s not allowing you to relax and speak naturally, then go back to breathing normally.


The next step up in Matching is matching the other person’s data or thought size.

For example: If you are speaking to someone about the earth, and they like to talk about continents and how continents interact and how global weather patterns can affect multiple countries at once, then they are thinking about the “big picture” at that moment.

If you try to talk to them about how the villagers in a certain part of Peru make their living, you will be talking about a “small picture.” This will not fit well with your partner at all, because they are still thinking “big picture.”

So when you are first talking with your partner try to limit your own talking so that you can listen and gauge the size of their “picture,” then you can easily speak to them at the same level.


The final step in the Matching system is building commonality or finding “common ground” with the other person.

The easiest way to build commonality is to simply look for all the things you have in common and point them out.

Do you have common hobbies? Bird watching, knitting, cigar smoking, etc.

Do you have common interests? A political party, a religion, a football team, etc.

Do you have common experiences? Military veterans, the same summer camp as kids, the same college, etc.

Do you have common values? People shouldn’t smoke, honesty is a necessity, education should never end, etc.

All of these common factors can create common ground with the pother person, which will help to solidify your rapport with them.


The easiest way to integrate rapport into your life naturally is to take one technique per week and just use that one technique when speaking with people. This will allow to focus on just that one technique, and you’ll be able to build skill through repetition.

Once you are able to quickly build rapport with your current and prospective customers, you will be able to find out more about them and their needs. You will be able to help them more, and they will actually “feel” good about you as a person, which will lead them to recommend you and your facility to more people.

The final caveat about rapport-building is that all your intentions must be in integrity. If you put forth good intentions in the hope of building trust, then all will be fine.

If you simply want to use rapport as a sales trick and have no real concern for the other person, then people will feel it and your business will suffer.

As the old saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so use your new skill well.


Portions of this article excerpted from the book ‘How-To Be, Do & Have More By Using Rapport’ by Erik Luhrs.

Author's Bio: 

Erik Luhrs is the President of Make Your Business BOOM! Inc. He provides Consulting, Coaching and Seminars on Business & Performance Optimization to Executives and Business Owners all over the world. Visit www.MakeYourBusinessBOOM.com to request a complimentary Rapport Mastery Coaching Session today.