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Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of unconscious human interaction. It is commonality of perspective, being in "sync", being on the same wavelength as the person you are talking to.
This article discusses Rapport from a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) perspective
There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as: matching your body language (ie, posture, gesture, and so forth); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm. Some of these techniques are explored in neuro-linguistic programming.
A classic if unusual example of rapport can be found in the book "Uncommon Therapy" by Jay Haley (ISBN 0393310310), about the psychotherapeutic intervention techniques of Milton Erickson. Erickson developed the ability to enter the world view of his patients and, from that vantage point (having established rapport), he was able to make extremely effective interventions (to help his patients overcome life problems).
- "Teaching learners to build rapport presents a number of challenges... In one study, faculty examined the same videotape segment of a rapport-building exchange and had divergent observations of the quality of the rapport building, ranging from positive to inadequate and even negative. A second challenge is that faculty are not consistent in evaluating a learner’s rapport-building skills across an encounter. In this same study, 72% of the faculty identified specific rapport skills demonstrated in the early phase of the interview, but only 25% were able to identify those same rapport-building skills later in the same interview [...] [T]eachers should remind learners that a key aspect of physical mirroring is to be subtle and inexact since being obvious may decrease rapport." (Buyck & Lang, "Teaching medical communication skills: a call for greater uniformity", an article on NLP rapport skills, published 2002, Family Medicine)  (PDF)
- Clabby, J. & O'Connor, R. (2004), "Teaching Learners to Use Mirroring: Rapport Lessons From Neurolinguistic Programming", Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School., vol. 36, no. 8, p. 3
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