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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Isolating Skills: Rapport

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


April 07, 2014

This month will support you in developing skill in the tools of Cognitive CoachingSM. We suggest that the best way to begin if you are new to this work is to isolate one skill rather than to try to do everything at once. Each week this month we will offer suggestions on one skill that will allow you to focus and practice that skill.

The elements of rapport are posture, gesture, intonation, language, and breathing. Select one for each of the five workdays this week and attend to that skill in one of the following ways.

Monday: Posture

You will have the opportunity to pay attention to this element of rapport in multiple settings including meetings and one-to-one interactions. As you sit in a meeting this week, watch how posture matches and mismatches. Pay attention to your own matching in meetings. When you work with a person in a one-to-one interaction, consciously attend to how you are sitting, standing, or matching posture. What is the impact of your physical alignment? Another way to attend to this element of rapport is to watch interactions in public meetings or on television. What do you notice when others are in and out of rapport?

Tuesday: Gesture

Each person has highly developed unique patterns of gestures. As you interact today, notice your own gestures and those of others. Where do others place people, places and things? As you listen, intentionally put your gestures in the same places as they do. Also notice patterns of large and small gestures, close to the body and wide from the body, lower versus upper gestures. Align your gestures in a way that shows you are attending fully.

Wednesday: Intonation

Intonation can be soft and loud, fast and slow, high in resonance or low in resonance. What are you aware of about your own intonations? What are some other patterns you notice as you listen to others? What are areas of matching intonation that are natural to you? What areas are more challenging? Pay close attention to matching intonation as you interact.

Thursday: Language

We speak from what we know and how we are wired. When we talk to parents, it is important that we speak a language that is accessible, not a voice filled with educational jargon. We also need to notice if a person is auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. For rapport, the more we match the person’s way of speaking, the more we will connect. How might you respond to the following in a manner that matches the representational systems?

I am so beaten down by these mandates.

What can we possibly see as good in this initiative?

What are you hearing that is important to speak to?

Friday: Breathing

Breathing is the most subtle and least obvious of the elements of rapport. On this day, become aware of your own breathing. If you are in a tense situation, attend to the breathing of others. What do you notice? Try to match their breathing, slowing yours. What is the effect? In other settings, pay attention to when you take deep breaths and notice the impact on others in the group. When the content of dialogue has high emotions, what do you notice about breathing? What are some ways you attend to breathing as you interact with others?

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