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Articles & Ideas


Blending NLP with EFT

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

I have high regard for NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and its valuable offerings for therapy and communications. It is particularly useful when blended with EFT. Fortunately, we have Don Blackerby among us who has advanced skills in both methods. Listen in as he gives us important details about the all-important rapport process.

Hugs, Gary

Part 1 of 3
Part 2 of 3 - How to get rapport with your body
Part 3 of 3 - More rapport cues

By Don A. Blackerby, PhD

Part 1 of 3

Rapport - the art of getting somebody to WANT to listen to what you have to say because they believe it is credible and important to them.  This is something that is so basic to quality communication that we tend to overlook it sometimes.  Gary Craig, in his EFT workshops, constantly is reminding us to get rapport first - before we do any EFT tapping or any other therapeutic work.

But what is rapport?  (My definition is above, in the first sentence).  And, how do we get it?  How do we maintain it?  And, if we lose it (which we will sometimes), how do we get it back?

In my experience, just telling somebody to get rapport is not enough.  It is a skill, easily learned and worth taking the time to do so.  In the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we specialize in the HOW of doing things.  And, one of the early skill developments of NLP was in the skill and art of getting rapport.  What follows are some exercises designed to instill in you that skill.  These skills are not the only way to get rapport, but something that is basic and easily and quickly learned.

I have started with auditory rapport since it is easily used over the telephone and/or in person.  Since so many of us in EFT use phone consulting it would seem to give us the best return in the shortest amount of time.

Getting Rapport With Your Voice

How do you build rapport with your voice?  This is just one more communication technique which can be used by anyone whether with children, business colleagues, clients, customers, friends or enemies.  Auditory rapport is particularly useful for those who use the telephone.  One of the major principles of communication is the notion that you will be able to get your message across to another person if you have rapport with him or her.  Here we will explore some ways to quickly get rapport with anyone by matching their voice, regardless if they are in front of you or on the telephone.

You do this by incorporating the mirroring of their voice patterns into your conversation.  Of course all of these mirroring techniques should be done gracefully and smoothly and built into your natural response to the other person.  If you are obvious and awkward, you may lose rapport.

Some of the more important voice patterns you can mirror are as follows:

Tempo: How fast or slow are they talking?  This is very important.  There are individuals who very carefully and slowly pick their words and there are individuals who can talk very rapidly.  For the most part they do not trust each other, or have rapport.  One of them has to adjust the tempo of their own voice if quality communication even has a chance.

Pitch: How high or low are they talking?  Obviously, if a soprano is talking to a bass, they cannot match each other exactly.  But, if you will move up or down in your pitch range to a level that is comfortable and toward the other person’s pitch, it will positively affect rapport.

Timbre: Do they have a special or unique quality in their voice that is connected to an internal state - like playfulness, seriousness, excitement, sexy, childlike, committed, etc?  You will want to change your voice to mirror this very gradually if their timbre is very different then yours.  Examples of when this is useful are when you are talking to a child, or when the other person has a playful quality in his voice, or the opposite - when he or she is very somber or serious; at that moment you don’t want to sound playful.

Projection: How forceful are they talking?  This can be thought of as the speed and volume of air they are expelling when they talk.  If they are forceful, you need to mirror that in your verbal response to them.  If they are soft spoken, you mirror that quality.

Breathing: Are they breathing in the top of the chest, mid-chest, or lower chest?  Also, how fast are they breathing?  Are they breathing in short, rapid breaths?  Or, do they have even and moderated breathing?  Or, do they take deep breaths and slowly exhale while they talk?  Whichever of these they do, you mirror or match it.  If you can breathe as they breathe, you can also more easily match their tempo and force of voice.

Rhythm: Is there a beat or cadence in their voice?  Do they have pauses or is it an even monotone?  Where in the sentences do they breathe and does the breath come in a regular or irregular rhythm?  Whatever their rhythm, you mirror it as best as you can.

Emphasis: What words do they hit hard or hang on to?  Which words do they d-r-a-w out or SAY FORCEFULLY.  Whichever words they do this with, you mirror them in your response by using the same words with the same kinds of emphasis.

Modal Operators: Which of the following types of words do they use?

Necessity:  need, must, got to, should, have to, will (or the negative as in: must not, should not, will not, etc.)

Possibility:  want to, choose, able, can, ability (or the negative as in: don't want, cannot, not able to, etc.)

Contingency:  wish, might, maybe, would, could, try, perhaps, might not, would not, etc.

As before, choose the same modal operators they choose and incorporate them in your response.

Sensory Based Words:  These are equally important auditory words to match or mirror.  More discussion and specific exercises on this will follow later.


In groups of three, designate each person as role A, B or C.  On a flipchart, chalkboard or piece of paper, list the voice patterns of: tempo, pitch, timbre, projection, and emphasis.

Role A:  Read or say the following statement “It is finally, a very beautiful day today.” varying the voice patterns of the statement under the direction of (B) as described below. 

NOTE:  The content of the statement is not important.  So, if after awhile, the group tires of the above statement, make up another one.  Just keep it fairly short.

Role B.  Secretly direct (A) to make the statement but have them vary it according to pairs of voice patterns.  For example, have them first say it as natural as they can; then you might have them speed it up and raise the pitch; then you might have them say it softly and with a sexy tone; then have them say it with a low voice but forcefully emphasize the words very and today, etc.  Do about 6-8 variations of voice patterns for each person.

Role C.  Immediately after (A) produces a statement, (C) is to imitate it as perfectly as possible while paying close attention to exactly matching the voice pattern that (A) has just stated.  Role B is the referee and can have (C) adjust the voice pattern response until it is exact.

Rotate Roles A, B and C until all three persons have played all three roles.


Repeat the above exercise, except:

1. each time create a new statement with new content and have the statement be 2-4 sentences long.

2. add the voice patterns of rhythm, modal operators and rhythm.

Rotate roles.

One of the variations of either of these exercises is that you can do it with two other people over the telephone in a conference call.  Just be sure and have Role C cover up the phone speaker when (B) is giving instructions to (A). 


Another way to get rapport auditorially is to match the way they process information.  When we think, we process our experiences and information in one or more of our senses.  We can visually process by making pictures in our head.  We can auditorially process by talking to ourselves and internally repeating conversations or other sounds.  We can kinesthetically process by accessing emotions or body sensations.

If a person is visually processing, it will help communication if you will help him paint a picture in his mind.  It will also help if you will use sensory based words that are visual in nature. 

Examples of the many visual words are: see, look, picture, clear, vision, light, shine, reveal, image, view, appear, show, watch, focus, etc.  One of the ways you will know which words to use is by listening to the visual words he uses.  You simply match his visual words in your response.  Visual processors like to view demonstrations or see things drawn out.  They may not like to do phone consulting because they can’t “see” what you are saying.

If a person is auditorially processing, you will hear him use auditory words such as: hear, say, talk, discuss, praise, call, noise, argue, quiet, speak, listen, tone, sound, etc.  These are just a few of the many choices of auditory words.  To strengthen rapport, you simply match his auditory words in your response.  Auditory processors like to dialogue and talk things out and tend to repeat things.

Kinesthetic processors use words such as: feel, tough, solid, unbalanced, warm, rough, tension, connect, smooth, firm, twist, touch, soft, etc - to name just a few. Again, you simply match the types of words he uses in order to gain rapport.  Kinesthetic processors like to have “hands on” experiences or “have feelings” about what you are talking about.


In pairs, read the following sentences to each other and have the second person identify if the sentence is visual, auditory or kinesthetic.  One of you read the odd numbered sentences and the then the other person read the even numbered.

__1.     “Is that a cry for help?”

__2.     “Look here, is this vivid enough?”

__3.     “Hey, have you heard the latest?”

__4.     “Get this situation, will you?”

__5.     “What are you trying to show me?”

__6.     “Can you describe it more clearly?”

__7.     “Did that news rip you apart or didn’t it?”

__8.     “Can you tell me more?”

__9.     “Are you in touch with what you’re doing?”

__10.   “Did her statement ring true to you?”

__11.   “How do you see this situation?”

__12.   “What was the scene like?”

__13.   “She really is a drag, isn’t she?”

__14.   “Listen, what’s the yapping about?”

__15.   “Why don’t you take a good look at yourself?”

__16.   “Can I bounce this off you?”

__17.   “Does what I said sound right to you?”

__18.   “Did you get a good handle on this problem?”

__19.   “How can I give you a firm grasp on this?”

__20.   “Just what are you trying to tell me?”


Now read the sentence and the other person respond logically to the content of the sentence but yet with the appropriate sensory based words.  For example, appropriate responses to 1 and 2 above would be:

  1.  “Is that a cry for help?” --- “I didn’t hear anything.”
  2.   “Look here, is this vivid enough?” --- “I can see it very well.”

If you are with the same person from the first exercise you just did, change the sentences that you read.  For example, if you read the odd numbered sentences before, this time read the even numbered.


In threes:  First person is the question asker, second person is the responder and the third person is the judge or referee. 

Overall directions - First person will ask the second person THREE questions about a general area of their life (eg, job, hobbies, family, where they grew up, etc) EXCEPT the first question will have a visual quality (“Describe what your family looks like.”), the second question an auditory quality (eg, “What are the sounds of your home?”, and the third question a kinesthetic quality (eg, “Describe the body sensations of your favorite chair.”)

The second person will answer each question only in the appropriate sensory based modality for 15-30 seconds.  Person three will referee.

Rotate roles.

All of these mirroring techniques should be done smoothly and elegantly AND while responding to their conversation.  You can do it while you ask a question or while you are commenting on what they just said.  After you have practiced these new skills and have become smooth in their use, you will notice a different response in the people around you.  You may even notice a different response in yourself to the people around you.

Don Blackerby, PhD


Part 2 of 3 - How to get rapport with your body

Continuing on with the series on getting rapport with anyone, in the last article we covered how to use your voice to get rapport, which is very useful in telephone consulting.  If you will recall, we covered how to match or mimic such voice qualities as: tempo, pitch, timbre, and sensory based words, just to name a few.  Since these are articles are meant to teach rapport, experiential exercises were included and will be included below.

We now want to concentrate on any personal encounters you might have.  In this article we will focus on matching body behaviors.  Again, it is very important that you do this matching smoothly, gracefully and as unobtrusively as possible.  They should come across as VERY natural to the other person.  If you need to shift or change behaviors, it is best to wait for a natural interruption before shifting to match the new behavior. 

One word of caution:  This IS acting.  That is, your outward behavior can be different from your internal self.  If you only behave or act according to how you feel, you will only get rapport with those who feel exactly like you and miss getting rapport with all those other people.

Facial Expression:  There are people with stoic faces and people with very animated faces - and everywhere in between.  People will move their eyebrows, smile, frown, move their head, etc, as they talk - or not.  Your task is to mimic or mirror their facial expression as closely as possible.  As an example, if they are stoic, you will want to be stoic - even though that is “not you” and may make you uncomfortable. 

Eye Contact:  There is a myth which says that you must maintain constant eye contact with other people.  With some people, however, this type of eye contact is disturbing and unsettling.  So, how do you know what to do?  You mirror the type of eye contact the other person gives you.  If they hold eye contact for long periods of time, so do you.  If they look away periodically, you look away periodically AND you look in the same direction for the same duration of time and with the same tempo.

Arm Position:  If they fold their arms, you fold your arms the same way.  If they lean on one arm on a table, you lean on one arm on the table - if you can.  You should be a mirror image of them.

Body Lean:  If they lean forward, you lean forward.  If they lean back in the chair, you lean back.  The same with leaning left or right.  Again, you lean to be the mirror image of them.

Leg Position:  Notice how their legs are crossed or if they are not crossed.  If they cross their legs at the ankle, you cross your legs at the ankle.  If they cross their legs at the knee, you cross your legs at the knee, etc.  One word of caution for ladies; if you are wearing a short skirt and you are mirroring a man, you may not want to mirror his leg position - just skip this one.

Gestures:  The type and tempo of gestures are very important to mirror.  If they have choppy gestures, you RESPOND with the same type of choppy gestures.  Other types of gestures you will want to notice and mirror are: powerful, smooth, flowing, artful or graphic, or no gestures.  Be sure to notice and mirror any movement of the feet or legs.  Note:  if the gesture is gender related (like a feminine tossing of the hair) and you are with a person of the opposite gender, skip the gesture.

Height:  As much as possible, do not stand over somebody sitting or standing close to you.  This is especially important with children.  Get down to their eye level even if it means getting down on one knee.  Also with people sitting in chairs, like wheelchairs, do not stand close and loom over them while they remain seated.  Lean over or somehow get down to their eye level.

FIRST EXERCISE—In threes, in roles A, B, and C.

Role A:  Speak for about 2 minutes about something that has happened in your life.  A description of a part of your workday, for example.  Or, what you did last weekend, or on your birthday, etc.  While you are describing this event, change each of the above behaviors at least two times.  You may do several of them at the same time.  For example, you might simultaneously gesture a certain way, while leaning backwards, and with your legs crossed - then after doing this for 15 seconds or so, change while continuing your story.

Role B:  As closely as possible, mimic each of Role A’s behaviours.  When Role A changes, Role B is to change to match.  (IMPORTANT: this is not rapport yet - it is simply learning to pay attention to the other person’s behaviors and matching them.  Rapport comes in the next exercise)

Role C:  You are the coach.  You (1) coach Role A on which movements and changes to make (if they do not do it often enough and naturally) and (2) coach Role B on matching Role A (if they forget to change).

Rotate Roles until all three have performed Roles A, B, and C.

SECOND EXERCISE—in threes, roles A, B and C.

Same exercise as above, except this time, Role B only shifts body naturally.  In other words, wait for pause in conversation; or, ask a question or make a comment to create a pause in order to make the shift naturally.

Rotate Roles


Role A:Same as FIRST exercise.

Role B and C.  Role B will mimic A’s body shifts (as you did in SECOND EXERCISE above) and Role C will totally mis-match.  For example, if role A leans back, Role C leans forward.  If Role A has animated facial expression, Role C is stoic, etc.  At the end of two minutes, brainstorm and talk about the different experiences.  Notice which Role was the easiest to maintain rapport with and what your response was to the mis-matcher.

Rotate roles.

The third exercise is a good exercise to convince people that matching behavior is a nice and easy way to establish rapport.  If you add the auditory or voice qualities to the exercise, it becomes even more powerful.  The dialogue and discussion that comes after this exercise is always entertaining and enlightening.

Don Blackerby

Part 3 of 3 - More rapport cues

n a previous article, we talked about how the nature of internal processing was revealed by the types of words that were used.  These words were identified as Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic.  It was suggested that if you would match the other person’s choice of internal processing words (sometimes called sensory words) that you could help to achieve even better rapport with them. 

It was noted that this facet of auditory rapport is VERY effective over the telephone.  The choices of matching words, along with matching tone, pitch, timbre, tempo, etc makes a consultant very effective at rapport, especially when doing telephone consulting.

Another way to determine how others are processing information and experience is to watch their eye accessing cues.  Their accessing cues are revealed by the way they move their eyes to get information from their brain. 

Brain tests have indicated that when the eyes move to the various eye accessing locations, blood flows to different parts of the brain.  This seems to indicate that the different parts of the brain and the different kinds of information accessing cues may be neurologically connected.  When they look, with unfocused eyes, to one of the six locations as indicated in the figure below, they will be accessing visually, auditorially, or kinesthetically as indicated. 

Imagine in the figure below that it is a person looking AT YOU.  So, establish ahead of time where their left and right sides are.

THEIR                                                 THEIR

RIGHT                                                 LEFT

When you see them look UP TO THEIR LEFT OR RIGHT, they are accessing visual information.  You can use visual words to match their eye accessing cues. 

When they look STRAIGHT TO THEIR LEFT OR RIGHT, OR DOWN TO THEIR LEFT, they are accessing auditorially.  You can use auditory words in your response to them. 

If they look DOWN TO THEIR RIGHT, they are accessing kinesthetically.  You can use kinesthetic words to match them.  There are some additional more specific distinctions that can be learned later - but for now, let’s keep it simple.

This pattern of eye accessing is true for a large percentage of the population.  Left handed individuals will sometimes reverse the pattern from left to right.  People with mixed dominance may have their own unique eye accessing pattern.  You can ask them specially designed questions to determine their unique patterns.

The most important point of this article is to add to the knowledge we have covered previously regarding their choice of sensory words.  As covered previously, when they are primarily using visual, auditory or kinesthetic words, match those words.  Noticing where the eyes are moving to access their specific information in their responses to you and responding accordingly, just adds to your effectiveness and rapport.


In pairs:

First phase - each person hold the eye accessing figure up to eye level and stare at it for about 15 to 30 seconds and visually remember the words at the end of each of the 6 lines.

Second phase - both lay the paper down out of sight; first person looks at the face of the second person while over laying the information the paper.  When the second person moves their eyes to one of the 6 eye accessing locations, the first person vocally identifies if their eyes are in the visual, auditory or kinesthetic position. 

The second person then moves their eyes to another eye accessing location until it is identified.  Repeat several times through all six of the eye accessing locations.  Rotate roles.


In pairs: 

First person asks the second person a series of questions according to the following instructions and notices where the second person accesses with his or her eyes to retrieve the answer.

  • First person asks the second person at least 4 questions that require a visual image to provide an answer.  (examples of visual questions, “What was the color of your first grade teacher’s eyes?” or “Describe in detail the front of your house or the building you live in?”)
  • Repeat with at least 4 auditory questions.  (e.g., “Hum the tune of ______?” or, “What is the sound of your car engine starting?  Imitate it.”)
  • Repeat with at least 4 kinesthetic questions. (e.g., “Which of your arms feels the lightest right now?” or “Describe in detail the texture of a piece of clothing you are wearing?”)

Discuss the movement of the eyes that were noticed.  (Huge hint:  Sometimes the most natural movement of the eyes occurs by watching the questioner think up the questions or by observing the second person AFTER they have answered the question.  What are they checking for or thinking about and where do their eyes go to check?)  Rotate roles.

The previous exercise is using “directed questions” which is useful when you are practicing or trying to determine the other person’s unique eye accessing patterns.  Most of your consulting and communicating with another person will be “undirected.”  That is, you will ask them more general questions and WANT to determine how they process the answers. 

For example, the question “Do you understand?” does not presuppose that they will get a picture, talk to themselves, or have a body sensation or emotion to answer the question - but it would be helpful to how you respond if you knew which it was.  So, you ask the general question and watch their eyes and listen to their choice of words to determine if they are processing visually, auditorially or kinesthetically - and then you respond accordingly.


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.