Creating rapport

One of my voluntary roles is as a befriender for Barnardos. I visit the same young person in care once a month. I’ve visited this particular young person for 3 years now.

A 17 year old youngster who has had much trauma in life, chooses to have very little connection with peers extremes of behaviours with much violence, spends hours in a room that is literally empty (nothing on walls, no furniture, books, music). At times, during a 30 minute period, the person will only speak for less than 5 minutes in total – very trying (and scary) for one’s confidence in trying building rapport and some kind of relationship.
Why I used particular NLP tools or knowledge
The tools and knowledge that I have drawn on include recognising eye movements and non verbal signals. I also started to listen to what and how they described things and then started to mirror the types of words they were using. For this young person (who isn’t an auditory or kinesthetic person), there was no point asking how things made them feel or what that sounded like to them. However, when I asked them to describe how college looked, the person was able to, and the result of this was that the person went from feeling anxious to good, as they could describe “what good looked like”.

The impact this had
Overall, the impact has been a strengthening of rapport.
Eye movements - within less than 5 minutes of watching and asking questions that they knew I knew the answer to, I could see clear patterns jumping out from their face as to what was remembered and what was being made up. Their eyes were operating in a reverse pattern. It was fascinating. We were conversationally talking about their future and at times, their past – they could not describe how the future would feel, or what people might say, but when I asked them to describe their imaginary house as an adult, the images were fantastic! Every room was described, from colours, to furniture to the dog they could picture in the garden.
Visit 1 - the person wanted an hour out and was champing at the bit to get back before the hour was out – great progress was made though as normally after 30 minutes they want to get back. Visit 2 - a similar experience was had. The person did not want the carer to be with us and we had 30 minutes to get some lunch before they wanted to go back.
The person seemed to trust me enough to give me three new pieces of information that were very personal to them about their past – and past is somewhere that this young person just never talks about to anyone, even the care and therapeutic staff that have worked with them for 5 years don’t get any consistent information about the past. The person also wants me to be in their future, which is positive.

What I learnt
Recognising and tuning into eye movements is a very powerful technique to give an insight into how another person processes answers to questions they are asked. I also thought back to the statement “behind every behaviour is a positive intention” which really came alive with this example. NLP tools don’t need to be labelled as NLP – give them half a chance and they will work in any situation.

Submitted by Clare Smale, Trainer Member

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