Rapport – NLP Builds Agreement In 5 Steps

The below article “Rapport – NLP Builds Agreement In 5 Steps” explains different parts of our brain interact to allow us to agree with each other on multiple layers. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and integrated thinking provide models for building strong, effective agreements. Integrate these five layers of agreement to establish common ground and move forward with any individual or group…

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Rapport – NLP Builds Agreement In 5 Steps

By Linda Ferguson

It is remarkable how well-adapted human beings are for agreement. Our neurology has evolved to facilitate connection with other human beings, to allow a group to know more and do more than even its most productive members could accomplish on their own. Different parts of our brain interact to allow us to agree with each other on multiple layers. The different agreements interact so that it becomes easier to agree. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and integrated thinking provide models for the next step in the evolution of agreement.

Integrate these five layers of agreement to establish common ground and move forward with any individual or group:

1. Take full advantage of mirrors. Your brain comes equipped with mirror neurons that fire when you watch others. If you see them eat grapes, the neurons fire in the areas that would be activated if you were eating grapes. This effect multiples when someone sees you mirroring him/her. Looking at your smile fires neurons in his/her smile region – where neurons are already active because s/he was smiling first. Of course, the mirror neurons were also active in your smile region when you decided to smile back. You can effectively mirror postures, gestures and expression to create one layer of agreement.

2. Keep the beat. Your brain also comes equipped with centres that monitor dozens of different rhythms and notice when those rhythms are in sync with someone else’s. You can pick up a rhythmic gesture, vocal rhythms, or blinking and breathing patterns. Notice one of these rhythms in someone else, and then send it back with your own breathing, blinking or movements. The synchronization will register in both your brains, creating another layer of agreement.

3. Offer back exactly the words that have been given to you. Agreements are strongest when they are precise mirrors: don’t rephrase in your own words. Just repeat back part of what someone has said to you exactly as s/he said it. In the new context, you might be giving the phrase a different meaning or turning a statement into a question. That’s less important than having someone register that you have heard precisely what s/he said. Being heard is almost irresistible: it creates agreement about communicating even when the communication is about controversy.

4. Create shared language patterns. The easiest form is to ask a series of questions that elicit the same answer – either yes or no will do, as long as the same answer applies to each question in the series. If someone says no to you once, that person is disagreeing. If the same person says “no” five times in a row, s/he is agreeing to complete the pattern that you are suggesting with your questions. S/he can agree by saying “yes” or agree to disagree by saying “no” another time.

5. Just say “yes.” It’s infectious and it signals agreement even when your “yes” is actually a logical “no.” For instance, you might say, “Yes, coffee is delicious and I never drink it this late in the day.” “Yes, it’s true that I disagree,” invites more conversation than “No, I don’t agree.” Although the logic says “no,” the brain also processes the “yes” as a sign of another level of agreement. “Yes” establishes that you are mapping out common ground, not moving on to greener pastures.

It is well known that people are motivated less by logic than by the integration of logic with other factors. Our reasons for making choices and taking action are always a mix of many different processes working together. Building agreement on layers of interaction creates common ground and shared momentum. It’s a great basis from which to identify common reasons and shared interests. And it feels great to be in agreement – on lots of levels.

Linda Ferguson, Ph.D. is a senior partner at NLP Canada Training Inc. in Toronto, Canada. With her partner, Chris Keeler, Linda develops training that allows people to experience stronger integrity and better results. Clients experience rapid, sustainable change and long-term learning about how their thinking drives success. Drawing on fields from the arts to business to neuroscience, NLP Canada Training Inc. provides spring-training for the mind: clients sharpen their perceptions, focus their efforts, and become better at knowing what they want and communicating to get it.

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