Rapport is one of the most practical and useful techniques in the portfolio of NLP. You can apply rapport to virtually any situation involving one or more people so you can purposefully build trust and open communication. It’s the ultimate icebreaker for any situation. It doesn’t matter if you are meeting a new client, closing that important sale, presenting a new idea, or haggling at the check-in counter for a better seat on the airplane. Rapport will get you there faster and more efficiently.

I read a great interview yesterday with Dr. Uri Hasson, assistant professor of psychology at Princeton University, who conducted an experiment, the results of which had interesting revelations on the workings of rapport (Harvard Business Review, “I Can Make Your Brain Look Like Mine”. Dec 2010). The findings of the study confirm what Richard Bandler and John Grinder realized with their Rapport techniques years ago; “In good communication, a listener’s brain activity actually begins to mirror the speaker’s brain activity.”

In the study they used an MRI to record the brain activity of a woman telling a story and then subsequently of people listening to her story. What they found was that the people who comprehended the story more accurately, showed greater mirroring of the speakers brain activity.

What is truly amazing was the recordings showed that the good, active listeners were actually anticipating what the speaker would say. Dr. Hasson described it as the result of two tightly coupled brains that were communicating well. He went on to describe the feeling of two tightly coupled brains as, “It’s that feeling you get that you just click with someone.”

This all wonderfully confirms what we know from NLP. Our physiology and our state are interlinked, which is how we can actively create rapport through matching and mirroring. It seems that neuroscience now confirms that mirroring can bring our brain activity and brain waves into sync as well. Exciting stuff!

What do you think? Or should I ask, what is your brain activity on this matter?

Update: I found a link to the original study findings in PDF format.