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The KEY Questions: How do I stay in rapport?

6 January 18

It’s a normal working day for me, so after what is hopefully a peaceful night’s sleep I go through my regular morning ritual. That involves showering (unless I’m off to the gym for an early work-out, in which case there’s very little point) and eating a good hearty breakfast. Food is very important to me – hence the regular visits to the gym to keep the pounds off – because without sufficient calories inside me my mood can sometimes dip and I can slip into my alter ego: ‘grumpy dad’. If you want to know what grumpy dad is like just ask my kids. I’m like a bear with a sore head and they generally run for cover. But providing there’s cereal, toast and coffee I’m good to go and looking forward to my first appointment of the day.

I’m on my way to meet a new client, someone who has been introduced to me through a recommendation from a mutual friend but who I have never actually met. The venue is a local hotel with its own golf course (a definite plus) that’s a five-minute drive from my house. I use this place because the setting is beautiful and the lounge is spacious. Most importantly it’s quiet. There are big comfy armchairs and the waiters move discreetly from table to table refilling our coffee cups.

I’m a semi-permanent fixture, having meetings here maybe three times a week on average. Very often these meetings are to catch up with ongoing clients, some of whom have become good friends, but today is slightly different. I am preparing to meet someone new. So what, you might ask, is on my mind at this moment? My answer:

Nothing at all.

Zilch. My mind is empty. Right now I am not a coach preparing to sit down with a client. It is not a one-up-one-down relationship. We are simply two human beings having a collegial conversation, as though we had met down the pub. I do not have to ready myself to deal with the client’s problem, because I know there is no problem. There is only thought.

Now I’ve made no secret of my transition from Neuro Linguistic Programming, the meta-discipline that I studied and taught for the best part of a decade, to the Three Principles understanding that I now teach. That transition, now complete, formed the basis of my book ‘Joyride’, which charts in a roundabout way my journey through the world of personal development.

I hope I have made clear the huge debt I owe to NLP and the various mentors who trained me with such love and dedication. I should add I’m also hugely grateful to those students over the past year that have allowed me the freedom to share my new insights within the framework of the last few NLP practitioner courses I have run. They will find many of the models, techniques and visualisations of NLP extremely useful, as I have in the past. NLP has influenced my thinking in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started on this journey. However there’s one particular model that now seems to me quite wrong-headed, and I wonder how I could ever have thought otherwise.

You could say that I’m ‘out of rapport’ with Rapport.

Rapport is clearly an important part of any human relationship, business or otherwise. The trouble is – and this is a general rule that applies across the board in life – the more you think about it the less likely it is you will have it with your clients (or for that matter your partner, your friend or your cat). ‘Rapport’, as it is taught in NLP, involves a lot of thinking, or rather careful observation, which amounts to the same thing. You train yourself to become aware of the other person’s posture so that you can mirror and match it. You look for visual clues: how fast or slow are they breathing? What is their energy level? What can you tell from their skin tone?

It’s all ‘outside in’.

I’ve discovered that my best chance of achieving rapport with another human being is simply to listen to him or her with a loving feeling and nothing much on my mind. In this way thoughts and reflections come to me naturally, spontaneously. Any ideas I may have about my role or status in the relationship will impede that process, as will any thoughts about ‘how I’m doing’, how the other person is doing, how they’re sitting, how they’re breathing and the rest.  Thoughts are powerful and they will make it harder for me to listen, every time.

May I suggest, if you are a coach meeting a client for the first time, that you get some sleep, have something to eat so your tummy isn’t rumbling, turn up and relax as best you can. Have nothing on your mind but speak feeling from your grounding when it feels right. Rather than focussing on your client like a specimen in a laboratory try instead to have a good feeling. That good feeling will draw the other person into your ‘safe space’ where it may be possible for both parties to do some healing. Or at the very least have a meaningful conversation.

That, for me, is rapport.



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  • Having attended David's course and then had some one to one sessions with him my approach to my life has changed dramatically and improved. David has a very gentle and empathic way about him, yet managed to challenge my habitual way of being and thinking. As a result of our time together I now practice his "way of being" and I truly find that I am getting far better results in all of the relationships that I encounter. My inner chatter is under control, most of the time, and I am learning to pause and push away harmful thinking . It's surprising how habitual thinking can do so much damage and how, once you really focus on what comes into your mind you start to realise that you can be bigger than your random thoughts. So David thank you for putting me on a better pathway. Looking forward to sharing another journey with the Auspicium family!
    Rowena Wild

  • The course I attended with David Key was marvellous, every moment being filled with joy and laughter. David has a unique talent to teach, unlocking the full potential of every person he encounters. His course opened up an infinite number of ways for me to get the life I want, right now, today, and in the future. It made me realise that thought is fluid and that I can mould it the way I want to suit my day. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in search of a new professional career or for those who simply want a happier life. Thank You!
    Lucia Pohrebnyak

  • It took me about 5 years of 'dithering' before committing, and in that time I attended several introductory days from various training providers. David's accessible style and the unforced flow of the day is what persuaded me to choose his company. David provides a training model that helps you become your best self - as a student, as a practitioner, as a person. By 'best', I mean more open, less fearful, more confident, less judgemental - whether you attend the course to make a change personally or professionally, to build on existing success, or with no idea where it might go, simply because you are interested (that was me!) you will be impressed at what you are able to achieve with David's expert guidance showing you how to use your curiosity as a pathway to growth. In the first week following the course, I dealt with several potentially difficult situations both at work and home, coming from a changed perspective - resulting in no conflict, calmer colleagues, less stressed family. And this without actively using any techniques; the biggest change has been inside my own headspace. I can't wait to do the next course. Now that I know, unequivocally, the benefits to be had, I wish I had come down off the fence years ago! Added bonus, a bunch of fabulous new friends. And a final thought about cost; some of you reading this will be struggling to justify spending a chunk of hard earned money "just" for yourself. Well, I will be using these tools every day for the rest of my life - pennies a day investment! I am SO worth it. And so are you!
    Sue Bee

  • I first met David at an evening business club a couple of years ago. During his presentation something “clicked” with me and I felt compelled to further my understanding of NLP. I attended the Auspicium free trial day. My earlier feelings were confirmed. This guy knows what he’s talking about and has a passion for helping people. I duly signed up for the NLP and Hypnotherapy practitioner course. What a week. All in the class left in such high spirits with a very different outlook on life. Following on I have attended the NLP and Hypnotherapy Master Practitioner course. Again excellent. There was something about the Hypnotherapy element of the course that I loved so on to the Hypnotherapy Trainers Training (another absolutely brilliant week). All the courses that I have attended have been very well organised, have a great team of trainers and support volunteers. The documentation is well put together and the exercises are all structured to push yourself to show you have a grasp of the given subject. I now have a fantastic group of new friends who I have a deep link with. We still meet up when we can to catch up on what we are all doing. As of March this year I have been participating in the Auspicium Freedom Project. This is a yearlong “conversation” about the 3 Principles – Mind, Thought and Consciousness. It took me a while to “get” it but now just by “doing nothing” I find myself doing more with better results and no stress. There are no models or techniques to learn. We all have the Principles inside us. We just need to be woken up to how to use them. It’s a great journey that will take the rest of my life. David is a superb trainer and fully deserves all the praise he receives.
    Phillip Warris

  • Before going on David’s Practitioner course, I thought I knew what I wanted, where I was headed and how I was going to get it. All I wanted an additional skill to add to my portfolio. I thought my life was in reasonably good order, nothing that needed fixing. I can sum up my experience of working with David in two words: life-changing. Instead of just learning a new skill, David encouraged us to apply his teaching, our learning, to ourselves. In a very safe environment, I gradually dropped the barriers I had painstakingly built up over a long time. This change happened very quickly and I continued growing as a person, studying 2 more courses with David and joining him on the Freedom project. Why David? He is disarmingly honest, genuine and engaging. He has a very broad knowledge of human behaviour and passes his knowledge on with grace. As a result of working with David, I have changed, and my life has changed. In myself I am very happy and contented person. My marriage is better and stronger. My business plans have taken a different route - one that is exciting and feels very right for me.