NLP Rapport: Mirroring to create a strong match with your interlocutor

rapport NLP mirroring

When you master the basic principles of NLP, you can get more out of your communication. It will be easier to understand other people, but it also gives you great insights into your behavior. Mirroring other people can improve your conversations and help you gain trust, and improve mutual understanding. In short, NLP Rapport is an excellent way to enhance your communication skills.

What is Rapport in NLP?

Rapport in NLP reflects the behavior or physiology of your interlocutor or client as if looking into a mirror. It’s close to matching in essence, yet the difference is that you make your movements mirror entirely the other person’s as if that person’s mirror image. A presenter can also mirror his audience.

Rapport refers to the simultaneous ‘copying’ of another person’s behavior as if reflecting their movements back to them. When you do this with respect and discretion, mirroring creates a positive feeling and responsiveness in you and others.

Successful interactions largely depend on our ability to build and maintain a match with our interlocutor(s). Not surprisingly, this NLP technique is often used in sales and has amply proven itself to be successful there.

This communication technique can be applied in sales because Rapport can improve communication in virtually every field, from healthcare to education, from sales to the construction sector—any place where you communicate with others.

What is mirroring?

NLP Rapport stands for attuning to the communication of your interlocutor. What are his / her preferred representation systems? What attitude does he/she adopt? How is his / her breathing? Which meta-programs does he/she use? These are all factors that you can tune in as a discussion partner.

All these facets are part of verbal and non-verbal communication that can create more harmony, conformity, and agreement and improve communication.

Like other NLP techniques such as submodalities, perceptual positions, and meta-programs, Rapport is a “showpiece” that has proven its effectiveness many times. With the help of mirroring, global peace deals have been negotiated, billions of dollars contracts have been signed, and tens of thousands of marriages have been saved.

How to create Rapport?

Rapport is mainly about emphasizing the similarities with your conversation partner (s). The better you can map out and use these similarities, the better you can communicate with your conversation partner.

If your conversation partner leans forward with his / her elbows on the table during the conversation, mirror their posture. If your conversation partner speaks with a lot of superlatives, comply with that. Of course, it’s important not to parrot the other because that actually breaks the match.

Example: Think of a friend’s birthday where you start a chat with someone you don’t know. Some people talk a little awkwardly, and the conversation soon stops. Other people ask, for example:” Where do you know Priscilla (the birthday girl) from?” – “We used to go to class together.” “Gosh, me too, but when we were older!” To create a match, always look for similarities in your conversation partner. And as it soon turns out, you have a lot more in common. A kind of chemistry arises in the conversation, and the conversation comes alive.

When your conversation partner appears to be mainly visually oriented, he or she often shows the preferred meta-programs, and by attuning to them, you notice that communication is becoming easier and almost happens automatically. That is Rapport at work!

Pace a conversation

Of course, building a matching alignment in your conversations is not only helpful for a good talk.The advantage is that once you have built up this match, you have gained the trust of your conversation partner.

This trust gives room to pace the conversation. Because of the match you created, your conversation partner is unaware of the fact that you are smoothly taking over the conversation and bending the discussion in a certain direction.

Of course, there will always be criticism of using this way of communicating. After all, it is often abused – such as in sales – to sell people something. This communication technique is also often misused in manipulation. For example, consider the news. First, positive news items are often highlighted (to make a match, because everyone likes to hear positive news), and then news topics follow and instill a feeling of fear.

The initial intention of the Rapport technique is, of course, positive: to improve communication. Certainly, in a therapeutic setting, mirroring and subsequently directing the conversation can provide an enormous added value. A client may experience deep resistance to change his / her behavior. The pacing allows the therapist to create a familiar setting, which makes the client more inclined to accept advice. After all, you are more likely to receive advice from someone you feel good with than from someone who forces your in an certain direction.

Mirroring with groups

Suppose you go to a lecture. The person in front of the group makes an introductory talk that comes completely from his own perspective and then starts his story. By constantly staring at his PowerPoint sheets, he makes no contact with his listeners, and soon the first crackles and buzz begins. The audience gets bored, and some people even walk out of the room to go from a glass of wine instead of his bantering.

Obviously, this person is not making a good match with his listeners. By making eye contact, perhaps occasionally questioning the audience whether everyone has understood, and first of all, identifying a common denominator, he could have made much better mirroring with his listeners and had a better match with his audience.

There are successful (pop) artists who make excellent contact with their audience. They show that they know what moves their fans and what they want to hear or see. Although they are the star on stage, in interviews, they show that they are just ordinary people (similarities / mirroring with their fans).

As you can see, you can achieve a lot of success by improving your communication skills with Rapport. Above all, observing a lot, listening carefully, and practicing is the most important for successful communication. Start practicing with your family and friends, then use it at a job interview or a business meeting, and you will see how you will learn to communicate more effectively.

Finetune with these tips

By matching with your conversation partner, you can make a good match in a number of ways:

Body posture

Pay attention to the posture of your conversation partner. Does he/she adopt an active attitude? Assertive or reserved? Take (roughly) the same attitude to make a match. However, be careful not to overdo this and mimick, because then you will fail. Subtlety is vital.

To breathe

The way of breathing is an important indication of how someone is feeling. High breathing, so on the chest, can indicate a nervous conversation partner. By synchronizing your own breathing, you can experience what the other feels and better attune to this in your communication.


The voice provides a lot of information about the other. The tempo, volume, tone, and pitch say a lot about the other. Although it can be difficult to interpret correctly at first, you quickly learn to fathom the emotions, temperaments, and other characteristics of your conversation partner.

Beliefs and Values

When you let the other talk, you will soon be able to interpret beliefs and values. By attuning to these, you can create very in-depth Rapport because beliefs and values ​​are at the core of someone’s character and identity. So if you can make agreements here, you will really make a good mirroring with the other.

Language patterns

Matching language patterns are the most commonly used to agreement applied within sales. To do this, listen to the keywords used by your conversation partner. What adjectives are used? Based on these findings, you can identify which preferred representation system the other has and adjust accordingly. Matching systems of representation can be very powerful and subtle.

Although there are still a number of areas in which you can make Rapport, the above are the most common ways to match with your conversation partner.

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