In these circumstances, it is important to be flexible and to understand and/or acknowledge other points of view. Or, put simply, have empathy for others. This enables you to see the world in different ways and to take multiple perspectives so that you can explore new ideas and feelings.
Exploring Perceptual Positions
Neuro-Linguistic Programming ('NLP') - in a nutshell, 'the art and science of communication', or understanding what makes you tick; how you think, how you feel, how you make sense of everyday life in the world around you - can be used to help build rapport with others by distinguishing at least three different points of view. In NLP language, these are called Perceptual Positions.
Having at least 3 Perceptual Positions on a relationship will allow you to personally look at it from all different angles and, once mastered, will reap relationship benefits untold!
1st position: This is your own natural perspective. It can be incredibly selfish until you consciously become aware of the need to acknowledge other people's viewpoints! This 1st position is the one that you are fully aware of, the one that upholds your values and beliefs and, if you are completely sure about your standpoint, can give you a feeling of strength and convinction.
2nd position: This position is all about being the 'other' person; considering another's point of view and putting it first. Some people are naturally very good at this.
3rd position: This is the 'independent' position - the one where you are able to consider both viewpoints (attached observers). It can also mean, however, that you decide to disengage yourself and only be a detached observer.
The NLP Meta-Mirror Exercise - 4 Perceptual Positions
This exercise was developed by Robert Dilts in 1988 to bring together a number of different perspectives (perceptual positions) so that the problem you face is more a reflection of you and how you relate to yourself, rather than about the other person.
Carrying out this NLP exercise will help you to research and prepare yourself to overcome difficult or awkward situations.
Dealing with a difficult work client;
An upcoming work presentation that you need to successfully deliver to your manager or clients;
A tense situation regarding a family member or stroppy teenager;
An emotional or sensitive conversation that you need to have with your partner or a close friend.
The Meta-Mirror Exercise
First, decide on the difficult situation and the relationship you want to explore further. This exercise can either be done alone but is also useful to carry out with another person, such as your life coach.
On the floor, lay out 4 pieces of paper to denote 4 perceptual positions and mark them separately with the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. Put 1 opposite 2 and 3 opposite 4 (with 1 and 3 side by side and 2 and 4 side by side).
1. Stand on the 1st position which is your point of view. Pretend that you are looking at the other person (or your life coach) on the 2nd position and ask yourself, "What am I experiencing, thinking and feeling as I look at this person?"
2. Metaphorically shake that person away and stand in the 2nd position (or swap places). Again, pretend that you are that person looking back yourself in the 1st position. Ask yourself, "What am I experiencing, thinking and feeling as I look at this person?"
3. Metaphorically shake that person away and stand in the 3rd position, which is the independent attached observer. In this position, look at both people in this relationship (1st and 2nd positions) impartially. Focus on yourself in the 1st position and respond to 'yourself' as the 3rd (independent) perception.
4. Again, metaphorically shake the 3rd person away and stand in the 4th position. This is the external space or detached observer where you can gather all of the perceptions you have just tested. How did your thoughts in the 3rd position compare to your reactions in the 1st position, and then switch them around. For example, in the 1st position you may have felt angry, while in the 3rd position you may have felt sadness. Now, switch these feelings so that the 1st position is feeling the sadness and the 3rd position is feeling the anger.
5. Go back and stand again on the 2nd position - the other person. Ask yourself, "How is this different now? How do I respond?"
6. Complete the exercise by returning to the 1st position - you - and ask yourself, "How is this different now? How do I respond?"
Benefits of the Meta-Mirror Model
- gain increased and expanded perspectives in conflict situations;
- be able to “unstick” yourself from old patterns of thinking;
- improve relationships;
- easier to forgive others;
- be able to spot relationship gaps;
- be able to identify opportunities;
- be able to negotiate more effectively with others;
- understand the needs of your customers, friends and loved ones;
- develop empathy.
PACE TO LEAD
Another effective way of building rapport and relationships is learning the technique of pacing to leading the other person. Pacing is the ability to respectfully pick up and match other people's behaviours and vocabularly (as discussed in my previous Rapport blog), listening to their needs and totally understanding their viewpoint - in fact, physically being in their shoes! This may take a long time to pick up or may be quite quick. But, the important thing, is to be patient with your pacing until you can truly start to 'lead' them in a new direction. Leading in this contexts means being able to influence the other person with your point of view by subtly taking them down a different route or in an alternative direction.
Successful salespeople are very qualified in this technique by firstly demonstrating a genuine interest in their customer. They listen continuously to what this person wants or needs before trying to sell them anything. Once they have totally understood the other person they gear them towards what they believe they will want to purchase. It is a fact that people do not want to be told what they need to buy - they resent it - but they can be led towards buying something they believe they want or need!
In business, companies succeed in introducing major change programmes by taking measured/paced steps. By listening to employees and acknowleding any of their concerns/ideas, this allows changes to gradually be introduced and accepted. The most effective leaders in business are those who pace their employees' reality first. Again, the key actions are always listening and being patient.
BUT!!! ...................One last word
There are instances when saying the right, albeit small, word makes a huge difference between your ability to retain rapport or break rapport. This is known as mastering 'influential communication' techniques. Simple words like 'AND' or 'BUT' can focus the attention of the conversation in different ways. When you use the word 'BUT', people will remember what you said afterwards. When you use the 'AND' word, people remember what you said Before and Afterwards!