I was always taught at dental school that it is most important to establish and build rapport with your patient. And if you did, that they were more likely to listen to your recommendations about brushing and flossing, and they were less likely to sue you. But, that’s where it ended. We were never given the rest, the “How to” part. Its like a tennis coach teaching someone new, that it is most important to be able to serve but not teaching them how to do it.
Can you think of a time when you and another person were completely in sync? Go back to that time and try to think what it was about that person that made you feel so attuned to them. The answer is rapport. It is the ability to enter someone’s world, and to make them feel that you have a strong common bond..
The ability to establish rapport is one of the most important skills a person can have. To be a good performer, a good persuader, a good parent, friend what you need is rapport, the ability to form a powerful common human bond and a relationship of responsiveness.
People like people who are like them or who they want to be. If you look at any relationship, you will find that the first thing that created their bond was something they had in common.
There are many ways of creating rapport, one of they ways rarely talked about is “mirroring”. It is creating a common physiology with another person. It is about mirroring physical traits in the other person like his voice, favourite words or phrases, posture and breathing patterns, eye contact, body language, facial expressions, hand gesture or any other distinctive movements. Any aspect of physiology from the way they lift their head to the way they sit can be mirrored. When you do this successfully, do you know what happens? People feel as though they’ve been totally understood, that they have found someone who can read their deepest thoughts, who is just like them.
Be like water
Many practitioners are very rigid and set in their ways, unwilling to change who they are to be successful. Bruce Lee in one of his final interviews famously said “Be water my friend. If you pour water into a cup it takes the shape of the cup, if you pour water into a bottle it takes the shape of the bottle.” The most successful practitioners have this ability to be flexible, to understand their patient and in doing so, are loved by their patients.