Using Pacing and Leading from Hemispheric Integration and NLP for Better Communication
Pacing and leading is the concept of aligning and establishing rapport, then leading the interaction in a more useful direction or towards a particular goal. We do this by using the skills of mirroring/ matching, aligning with breathing and rhythm, using our listening skills for honoring another person’s experience of reality, then leading the conversation and interaction to the intended outcome using our precise language skills.
Coaching Exercise for Pacing and Leading: Pacing Objections
Purpose: To practice using all of the rapport skills you have gathered so far to influence a conversation in a positive way. To get away from limiting patterns from the past and try on new ways of convincing through more respectful filters.
Find a partner and coach them to role-play, having initial resistance to the proposal you are going to make.
Make the proposal – partner objects – continue to propose using less than effective style.
Proposal: “Let’s go see a movie tonight.”
Objection: “Nah, I’m too tired.”
Continue to re-propose with begging, whining, reiterating behavior:
“Oh, Come on, let’s go anyway. It’ll be OK. I really need you to go with me. Please, please.”
Notice the response and result in both positions.
Make the proposal again – same objection from partner – Pace, validate, rapport awareness with matching/mirroring, explore possible positive intentions until you notice a shift in partner, then lead using the information you have gathered.
Pace with validation, rapport, exploring options.
“So you’re feeling tired and going to a film might seem like an effort after the day you’ve had? You’re right, it will involve some planning and driving, and sometimes when I’m tired, a movie can be refreshing, a nice change of pace – a totally undemanding experience. I just sit back and be entertained. Sometimes I leave with more energy than I came with. Of course, I want you to take care of yourself, and I hope you’ll enjoy going with me. What do you think?”
Notice the response and result. Even if the answer is still a NO, the interaction will be a more positive and respectful experience.
Pacing and leading is also a measure of our rapport. When there is rapport, the other person will naturally follow your lead.
When working with someone you are wanting to influence, once you have matched their behavior, you can test for rapport by leading (gradually changing your behavior) and noticing if they follow you. It’s important to notice when it’s time for the lead, particularly when bringing someone out of a negative state or experience. You may only have to pace for three to five seconds to get the lead to a more positive interaction.
Remember: One of the most powerful ways to connect is through matching the breathing and rhythm of another person.
Another way to think of Pacing and Leading is “Yes, and…” In other words, the “Yes” acknowledges the person and their map of reality, repeat back what you heard them say for clarity and understanding using their words, this lets them feel that you are listening. Then you can give your information, opinion, following the “and…” What so often happens is that we jump in with a solution, advice, or how to fix it, without letting the other person feel heard or validated, and without gathering enough information to know what is the real challenge.
Another system in which to pace and lead is the actual words a person uses to describe their thinking style.
Another form of Pacing and Leading is being able to give effective feedback while maintaining rapport.
As a coach, manager, teacher, or parent – we often have to let someone know what doesn’t work, how to be more successful and to set boundaries.
- One important element is for the coach to maintain their appropriate state of being for the situation.
- Have a clear goal in mind for the interaction or result.
- Give sensory-based feedback for clarity on what the challenge is and on what the intended results are at a behavioral level. (No attacking the person with judgmental language!)
- Anytime the coach can demonstrate behaviorally what is wanted, this is most effective.
- Give feedback in all sensory systems.
- Keep breathing!