Teach English in Chenbao Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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Rapport is not something we consciously talk about, but we’ve definitely had experiences with it, both professionally and socially. The difference between being in rapport and not is palpable. We’ve all met someone who was really easy to talk to and, in contrast, we’ve all had that icky-sticky experience with that one guy or gal that made us feel uneasy and nervous. We all know what it feels like to be in rapport. When we are in rapport with someone, we feel heard, understood. When we experience rapport, we’ll say something like, “We had a connection. They were easy to talk to.” On the other hand, when we aren’t in rapport with someone, we can’t get away from them fast enough and they are soon wiped from our memory. According to Merriam-Webster, rapport is “a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rapport) I first learned about rapport, or rapport building, as part of my NLP practitioner training in 2009. Before then, I learned how to relate to people by watching my dad. He was a very successful salesman, racking up lots of awards throughout his career. I remember as a child being in awe of how easy it was for him to strike up a conversation - anytime, anywhere and with anyone. For years, all I could do was mimic what I saw. Later, in my own career, I learned how important rapport building skills were to the success of my projects. I learned that good rapport helped me create a level of trust with people making the work easier, though my success with it was hit and miss. Being able to learn the “ins” and “outs” of rapport building in 2009 was such a gift for me. I take it for granted now, but most people don’t know how to build rapport. Outside of sales, most don’t even consider whether or not they are in rapport with someone, especially in social situations. This is a shame because not being able to establish rapport with someone can be detrimental for one’s career and social life. For this course, let’s just say that being in rapport with students is crucial to our success as TEFL Business English teachers. Students will learn more for us if we are in rapport with them. And, hey, as an added bonus, wouldn’t it be great to be in rapport with the people who hired us? How about with other teachers? I think so which is why I want to share information I’ve learned about what makes a person good at rapport building. Over the years, I’ve identified the four most important traits of people who are good at building rapport. People who are good at rapport building are: 1. curious about other people, 2. calm and present, 3. good at listening, 4. and great at encouraging people to talk about themselves. Let’s take a quick look at how these traits promote a level of trust and understanding and ease communication. First, being curious about other people naturally puts us in a receptive position. When we are receptive, we are less tight physically and our breathing is slower and calmer. People naturally feel more at ease around someone who is like this, it is human nature. When we are in this physical state of calm, we are naturally exhibiting the second trait. Being receptive with a calm body helps us stay mentally present. And when we are mentally present, our ability to focus on the other person increases. Something, again, they sense from us. Once we are mentally focused, we can hear what they’ve said, (we can listen), this is trait number three! And onward, without effort, we find ourselves at trait number four, encouraging them to talk about themselves. Because we’ve heard what they’ve said, we are able to ask appropriate questions which keeps the conversation lively and focused on them. Ta-da! These are the four traits of people who are good at rapport building. I believe these four traits can help TEFL teachers build trust with their students in the classroom, putting them at ease and in a better position to learn the material. Additionally, knowing how to be focused on the students’ experience helps teachers maximize student talk time, without thinking too hard about it, making ESA lesson plans easier to create.