An Introduction to NLP and Communication by Heather Roberts
As teachers and coaches we all know how essential effective communication is for a student centered interaction. Did you know that only 5%-7% of communication is through words? 22%-25% is tone and the rest is physiology? Last year I participated in an Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NL P) Practitioner Training Seminar (22 days over 7 months, and one long weekend a month) that helped me change how I communicate and connect. The first weekend we learned about rapport – I thought, “Hey, I know about rapport from teaching skiing.” While I knew some key elements, and some comes naturally, there was so much about rapport that I wasn’t even aware of!
Think of an interaction with someone who understood something you were telling them. How did you know they understood? Since what is being said (words) counts for less than ten percent of the communication, what cues let you know they understood? Have you ever had someone tell you they understand but you can see by their physiology they don’t have a clue what you’re saying? What is it in their physiology and their body language that lets you know? What are you unconsciously communicating? The answers to these questions help you to calibrate (read physiology) to know whether or not you are “in rapport.”
To be in rapport means to be able to step into, and experience the other person’s model of the world. In class, we learned various techniques matching tone of voice, body language, posture, and gait. We did exercises in matching and were given feedback until we matched the other person more closely. It is amazing what you can learn about someone by matching them; you truly can see how they perceive the world, and even get into their beliefs. This happens because when you do things the way they do, you start to get the same results. This in itself is very useful information in helping your student, athlete, or client affect the change necessary for their desired outcomes. For example when you ski like someone else you can learn their beliefs about skiing because you begin to get the same results they do. It gives you credibility and the ability to relate on a deeper level. Test it: start with at least 3 people. Person 1 does something (ski, snowboard, walk, or talk) while Person 2 matches Person 1, and Person 3 gives feedback to Person 2 until Person 2 adequately matches Person 1. Person 2 can test what was learned about Person 1 by discussing the results with Person 1.
Did you know that only 5%-7% of communication is through words? 22%- 25% is tone and the rest is physiology?
Exercises in rapport can be very rewarding. If you take a moment to really get into someone else’s world you can learn so much just because everybody believes a little differently than you do. Think about how much more effectively you will be able to reach a desired outcome when your physiology and body language communicate you truly understand who the other person is and what they want. This is truly a deeper level of student centered teaching.
Most of us unconsciously get into rapport and find a connection. When you are not in rapport the communication is awkward or cumbersome the connection is lost and with regard to teaching – chances are there isn’t very much learning occurring because there isn’t very much direct information- transfer between you and your student. If you can connect simply by matching, once there is a connection you will be able to get more information, then you can get in rapport.
There was a full weekend alone devoted to ways to be in, break, and regain rapport. I now know how to adjust subtly for a deeper more effective communication. There is so much information; lots of books, seminars, trainings and if you want to learn more check out nlpchoices.com. NL P is a great way to expand rapport skills, making it possible to teach and communicate more effectively on many levels.
Heather Roberts is a former PSIA-NW Alpine DCL, and current Stevens Pass Ski & Snowboard School Instructor and Team Lyon coach both at Stevens Pass, as well as a Personal Trainer & Owner of F/X Training. firstname.lastname@example.org.