To Build Rapport, Try Pacing

Here‘s a typical conversation between a trainer and a participant on a training course:

Trainer: Who has had some experience of giving presentations?
Participant: Presentations are only given by senior managers in this company
T: Can you tell me about a presentation outside the work environment that you’ve given?
P: I’m not the kind of person that pushes herself forward.
T: So which skill would you like to focus on over the next 3 days?
P: I’m not even sure why I’m on this course.
T: I’m sure you’ll learn something useful even if you don’t give that many presentations

The trainer and participant are in separate worlds in this conversation. Rapport could have been built using pacing, which is about meeting other people in their ‘map of the world’ rather than yours.  An analogy is trying to catch a moving train and being helped by running at the same speed as the train.

People who are good at this are in the habit of attending closely to how others see things. You can pace using similar body language, tone of voice or by using similar metaphors.

Pacing is not about mimicry, which is simply copying without any real authenticity.  Mimicry breaks rapport because the mimic is not, in effect, in rapport with himself!

Example of Effective Pacing

Here’s how the above conversation might go using pacing:

Trainer: Who has had some experience of giving presentations?
Participant: Presentations are only given by senior managers in this company
T: Who would count as ‘senior managers’?
P: Not me, that’s for sure.
T: So tell me something about your role and why you’re on the course?
P: I was sent on the course by my manager.  I’m a technical specialist and have no intention of going into general management.
T: Can you tell me more about the technical work you do so that I can think about which parts of this course might be useful to you?

 

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