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It’s no secret. It’s taught in most NLP Practitioner Trainings (though usually not well). Pacing and leading is the DNA of persuasion and influence.
If you don’t master pacing and leading, using language patterns to influence and persuade or any other technique will only work haphazardly and you won’t know why it works when it does and why it doesn’t work when it doesn’t.
Pacing is meeting someone where they are, stepping into their world and acknowledging their state, physiology, and perspective. When you do that it builds trust and familiarity; rapport in other words.
Change, transformation, leading, influence, and persuasion starts with rapport. You cannot skip this step! If you do, you will encounter resistance and most likely find yourself in an adversarial position with the person or people you’re wanting to influence or lead and you will get nowhere with them.
One of the incredible things about NLP is that it’s about understanding yourself and others, how we communicate, and how we take in information, process, and create and perceive reality. The more you learn NLP and the more you practice it the better you will understand yourself and others, which means you can create instant rapport with people.
When you can walk into any situation with a greater knowledge and understanding of people and how we communicate, you’re going to have a definite advantage over everyone else.
How does one pace?
When it comes to focusing your attention externally, if you are conscious of it, you can pace it. This includes, but is not limited to, matching and mirroring someone’s breathing, hand gestures, posture, and process words or sensory predicates.
Once you have rapport, you can lead. You might want to test the rapport first to see if the person you’re persuading will follow. You can do this by shifting your posture or making a gesture with your hand and see if they match you.
If they don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re not in rapport. However, it does mean the rapport probably isn’t strong enough for you to lead. You will then need to build more rapport.
When the rapport is really strong you can deliberately mismatch someone and they will do whatever they can to maintain rapport. Once in rapport, people don’t want be out of rapport.
When I want to test the rapport to see if I can lead I will sometimes give an opinion about something that I know the person doesn’t completely agree with to see if they will soften or even change their opinion to stay in rapport. If they do, I know I can lead them toward the outcome I want.
This can be very powerful so remember to use ecology when choosing an outcome.
When I’m coaching a client, they choose the outcome, but I still check ecology to make sure the change will stick and to make sure getting their outcome won’t harm other areas of their life and to make sure it doesn’t prevent other outcomes they want.
If you decide to try this stay away from heated subjects like politics, money, and religion. Use something that carries less weight. Otherwise you might set off an argument.
Volumes can be written about pacing and leading. This will get you started. Give it a try!
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