In building rapport, it’s important for the coach to be in an appropriate state of mind and to have clear filters and strategies to build success. Your enthusiasm and confidence will be an example and inspiration for your client to follow.
The initial meeting with your client, whether by phone or in person, is the time to begin setting a foundation for the relationship, gather information about the needs and wants from your client’s perspective, and begin to create a blueprint for ease in attaining the client’s results.
Rapport is about aligning with another’s reality, listening respectfully, and beginning to create an atmosphere of openness and trust – a sense of safety.
We create rapport in many ways. Some skills will come naturally from your personal history of relating to people, and there are particular skills that will establish a connection with your client purposefully. Without maintaining rapport, very little progress is possible, so it is crucial that you pay attention to this aspect of the interaction.
There are also times when breaking or interrupting rapport is necessary for safety and setting boundaries. While this is not often the case in the coaching relationship, it can be a valuable tool in some situations.
Effective coaches will recognize when rapport diminishes or is broken and will have the skill to re-establish the connection before going onto other coaching activities.
Pacing and Leading
Basic rapport skills begin with aligning in the physical realm of rhythm and breath, pacing and then leading to creating change.
Pacing and Leading are terms that describe how important it is to first acknowledge the client’s experience and let them know that you understand their dilemma (even if you don’t agree with their perspective), then establish that you have the skill and wisdom to help them heal their problems and meet their challenges.
Take a breath and then soften your voice and begin to slow your rhythm, lower the volume, and lead your client on to a better state by saying: “I’ll bet it would feel good to find out what choices we might be able to discover for how to deal with that.”
Other ways to match or align in order to build rapport are more non-verbal with gestures, posture, facial expression, topics of discussion, and so on.
The environmental set-up for building rapport and trust Psycho-geography is a term used to describe ways of setting up the coaching environment to support comfort and rapport. Create your seating arrangement so that you are side by side at about a 45-degree angle. If this is not possible, turn the angle of the chairs to simulate a feeling of “being on the same side” with your client. Particularly when doing a full process, it’s best not to be face to face as you will “clutter up their pictures” as you ask them to visualize.
When doing a full Hemispheric Integration process, we often suggest standing, as more neurology and physiology will be involved. It’s sometimes too easy for a client to dissociate when they are sitting back. When you stand up, let the client naturally choose which side of you they prefer to stand. Often, it is good to ask the client how one side feels, then move to the other side for them to make the comparison. Then decide which side is most comfortable for the client. As a coach, develop the flexibility to stand or sit on either side.
Active Listening Skills
Attentive and active listening will assist in establishing a connection with your client and bring you high-quality information. Clients will “give you” what they need when we are open and really listen to the content, the structure of the presentation of the content, and especially decipher “between the lines” of their content to gather the structure and patterns. Then we are able to ask leading questions to help them discover their own answers and create an action plan for success.
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That’s it for now.
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