What is Rapport in NLP?

Rapport – used in English to imply harmony, a feeling of shared understanding, and of being at one – is the most important process in any interaction. Without it, two people will not trust each other and probably will not even hear each other correctly.

We have all created rapport many times – when we’re with an old friend, or when we meet someone and it feels like we’ve known them all our lives. People tend to think it just happens, but we can establish rapport deliberately.

  • Rapport is a process, not a thing. It’s something we do with another person.
  • There are things we can do to establish rapport.
  • Rapport is responsiveness – you don’t have to ‘like’ the other person.
  • The non-verbal aspects of communication known as paralanguage (voice tone, body language) convey information about our relationship with the listener. This forms the context in which the content of the words is understood. (e.g. “That was really good!” conveys the opposite meaning if the voice tone is sarcastic and the body language dismissive.
  • Psychologists have discovered three elements to rapport (according to Daniel Goleman’s book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships):
      • mutual attention, where each person is tuning in to the other
      • shared positive feeling – mostly conveyed by non-verbal messages
      • synchrony – people unconsciously respond to each others’ movements and gestures
  • If you don’t have rapport, you won’t get your outcome. In any conversation, neither of you will get anywhere until you have established rapport.

You may also be interested in the longer article “What ‘Classic’ NLP Doesn’t Tell You About Rapport“, and these episodes of the Practical NLP  Podcast: Rapport, Crossover Matching and Pacing and Leading, and Applying Pacing And Leading

© 2012 – 2019, Andy Smith. All rights reserved.


  1. Katherine Gordy Levine

    NLP uses potent tools to sell things. Don’t mind that, but wish we would to the same to repair our world and end oppression.

  2. Rapport 101 in NLP

    […] Note: this is an expansion of an earlier article, What is Rapport in NLP? […]

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