Rapport-building for Transformational Coaching Conversations

Rapport-building for Transformational Coaching Conversations 1 Year Ago · 5 min read

Talyaa Vardar

Talyaa Vardar, MA, FCPC, MCC
Executive Coach, Psychologist & Art Therapist

Rapport originates from the Greek word “rappoarte” which means “to carry back to another person’s experience of themselves” Coaching conversations that transform are the ones in which the coach and the client become aligned and purposeful. In transformational conversations we express our inner truth and feelings and support others in doing the same. Rapport holds the essence of these conversations. 

People are attracted to people who are similar to them:

As a coach, building rapport means being open to understanding or experiencing another person’s view of the world as if you are experiencing it like the person itself. If you knew what the other person knows, if you had experienced what the other person had experienced, you would be able to enter naturally the client’s physical and tonal habits to the view the world in a new light. Through strong communication it is possible to build a rapport through understanding and respecting other persons view of the world. The key is to find common grounds. This leads to a successful coaching conversation by asking powerful questions as a coach and by active listening with curiosity. 

Your emotional brain loves similarities. It feels safe and most comfortable when communicating with people who are like you. As a coach you can encourage a person’s emotional brain to open up and carry a transformational conversation by using basic skills of rapport. You can build a sense of shared value so the client can step into a coaching relationship with you. 

Interested in becoming a coach? Discover Solution-Focused coaching skills which enable you to create transformational change in yourself and others. Learn about FLOW Coaching Methodology

Finding Common Ground Leads to Positive Results:

The use of behavioral and tonal matching develops strong physical rapport. With the help of behavioural matching you can mirror a part of person’s behaviour. For example in a face-to-face conversation you might want to sit in the same posture as the client. When the person shifts positions, you may want to follow gracefully. This is a form of respect and helps the client open up to you.

The strongest rapport is created when we value person’s core values. We become strong listeners when we actively listen and repeat peoples value words to them, words that hold true meaning and importance. On a personal level, you do not need to agree, but for transformational communication, it is important to respect where the other person is coming from. 

Rapport building does not mean that you want to copy or mimic the persons behavior, if you do this they might feel like you are mocking them and breaks the rapport. Rapport is when we quietly track a person’s behavior and begin discrete sharing of the experience. Being “like them” is the doorway into sharing experience.

An Exercise for Coaches to Build Rapport:

One of the best exercises for rapport building to get in sync with the client. Try to match your breathing with your client until you get a sense of his rhythm. If the person seems distracted or disjointed you can slowly deepen you breathing and notice that the client will do so too. Usually, a person will do so, unconsciously responding to you. This will enhance contact and will also assist the person to touch deeper levels of awareness. If you relax, the person will relax, too. He will particularly appreciate you after this type of relaxation, although he may not consciously recognize what you have done.

In the absence of rapport, an effective coaching conversation is unlikely to take place. Take time to recognize your own authentic values and move on to approach the client with the understanding and acceptance of who they are. If a person feels safe and understood they open up to deeper realms. When you have integrity using a rapport-building approach, the person will see, hear, and feel it, and this makes a powerful difference in the transformative possibility of the conversation.