Having discussed some practical applications of rapport techniques from NLP such as ‘pacing and leading’, we now come to the question of ‘Is it manipulative to use these methods?’
My belief is that ultimately it depends on your intention. If respect the other person and dovetail your desired outcome with theirs, you will get a win-win situation and everyone is satisfied. If not, neither party will achieve their outcome.
In the long term, manipulative behaviour never works. Human beings are usually pretty good at spotting what the manipulator is trying to do because they seem ‘false’ or not fully human in their responses. You don’t have to have trained in Paul Ekman’s methods of reading human micro-expressions to get a feeling that something is ‘off’ when someone is not being sincere, although many people don’t recognise or act on that feeling until it’s too late. If you get such a feeling when you meet someone, it’s a sign to be cautious in your dealings with them.
Finally it’s worth remembering that rapport works both ways – as you clear the channels of communication between you and the other person, you are opening yourself up to be influenced by them as well. So it’s important that you maintain yourself in a good state when you’re interacting with other people.
The classic book on using NLP to influence with integrity is called – yes! – Influencing With Integrity, by Genie Z Laborde. It’s well worth a look, and also good on other business-related topics like running better meetings.