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Writing with rapport: being real

One of the the things I’m keen to do through this blog is explore how to write with rapport.  Rapport is a key element of coaching and NLP and I’m looking forward to transferring some of the ideas, principles, practices and techniques from these spheres to the business of writing. 

Rapport is closely connected to trust - indeed most definitions of rapport include some reference to trust.  One of the main differences between them is that rapport can be created (and lost) quickly, whereas trust needs to be built up over time.  It is a relationship that we need to keep on testing - putting our weight on if you like - to be sure it will  hold.

There are things that we can do, say, and in this context write that will help to build that relationship of trust.  All of those things flow however from a prior state of being.  (And watch out: if you are writing ‘as if’ you are in that state without actually being there - your writing will sound insincere and you’ll break rapport.) 

Joseph O’Connor has a list of six ‘ways of being’ that are a concise way of describing how to build trust:

  • Be real
  • Be sincere
  • Be competent
  • Be honest
  • Be congruent
  • Be there

The first one on the list, being real, includes not  pretending to be someone you’re not.  It’s about being open and honest.  Acknowledging that you are not perfect.  That’s right - you’re human, just like your reader.

There’s a great example of how to create rapport and build trust by being real at my Business Blog Angel Claire’s site.  There are other things going on too of course (sincerity, honesty) but for me this post is all about being real.  Yes, she says, it’s a ‘bad idea’ to admit to any business weaknesses in public (and you don’t want to take being real too far - remember being competent is also a key element of trust) - but on a blog we’re amongst friends (the subtext goes).  This isn’t the ‘generally speaking’ world, this is the  environment of people with a shared set of values, busy people who don’t always keep 100% on top of everything they want to do - but will always go about fixing it, explaining it, communicating the reason, pointing to a long term solution.  In so doing keeping us - the readers, the clients - on board, creating rapport and building trust for the longer term.  Neat isn’t it?  All that from an apology!

One other thing to add - this piece of writing fits within a broader ‘conversation’ on the blog.  That provides the environment, the context for her to be real (safely) while the repetition of sincerity, reality, congruence and so on is what builds up trust over the long term.   Although you can work to create rapport within one piece of writing (a letter, a web-page, an e-mail) the blog, like a weekly column in a newspaper or magazine, allows you to develop a different sort of relationship with your reader and them to ‘test’ your trustworthiness as a writer (and a person) over a period of time.

Anyway I’m not meaning to over-analyse this one piece - and Claire will be blushing and furious at the attention I’ve given it - it just struck me as a good example of how to create rapport and build trust at just the point I was planning to write about it.

Do let me know as and when you come across other good examples of writing that creates rapport and builds trust - this well help us to build up a picture of the impact you can generate and how to work this into your writing.

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