Build Rapport, Stay Engaged

Building Rapport, Staying Engaged
By Lisa Olcese, MS

Getting stuck in some heated conversations, political or otherwise? It seems that we are feeling more divided than ever before, which increases the urgency to build bridges across our differences if we are to create the world we want for ourselves and for future generations.

Here are 3 strategies to help you build rapport, stay engaged and avoid burning out:

  1. Become aware of your inner states – your feelings, reactions, body sensations – before you erupt or implode. Develop mindful self-compassion and self-rapport. This is a daily practice.
  2. Learn the basics of nonverbal communication. When you increase your behavioral flexibility to attend to other aspects of what’s being communicated, including and beyond the content, a kind of magic can occur. This is a learned skill.
  3. Share what’s true for you. Facts are important, and checking your sources is good practice. But often we lose sight of conveying what’s at stake for us in those facts. This is about communicating your values – and while it increases our vulnerability, it can also extend a bridge to understanding.

For many of us, these conversations are not merely an intellectual exercise – our greatest hopes, fears, assumptions and projections are intertwined with our desire to understand and be understood. Our relationships – with colleagues and loved ones alike – provide a platform from which to explore the topics that seem to divide us. When we can be vulnerable enough to risk sharing both our opinions and what informs our opinions, real dialogue starts to take place. Mindfully attending to how we stay engaged can leave us feeling more energized, curious and connected in the end.

Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Stay Engaged: How to Have Influence Without Burning Out, taught by Lisa Olcese, MS, certified Executive Coach and Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, is an interactive workshop that will help you build skills and experience more productive, meaningful conversations with the people in your life.  The next session of this class is April 8, 2017.

Didn’t Get Much Sleep Last Night? Stop Talking About It!

About 10 years ago, I was at a 3-week training to become a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). This was an important milestone for me because I had studied NLP for about a decade and had finally committed to formally advancing my studies. I have a habit (or maybe it’s an identity) of being a Good Student, so after a night of tossing and turning, I woke up exhausted. I worried that everyone else would be able to tell just how fatigued I was, so I decided to pre-emptively tell the instructor “not to expect too much from me, because I didn’t get much sleep.” He looked at me, bored (this is when I learned that talking about one’s sleep habits does not make for clever conversation), but after a pause  said: “You’ll sleep tonight, won’t you? Stop telling yourself you’re tired. You’re just reinforcing the programming.”


And yet his blunt response made perfect sense to me. He didn’t say “Pshaw. You’re not tired” (denial) or  “Get over yourself, you whiny baby” (blame/shame) – he simply gave me a new way to think about my fatigue, and how my words – both to him but more importantly, to myself – were reinforcing exactly that which was uncomfortable.

So here’s the tip:

If you didn’t get much sleep last night, and you woke up tired, and you’re unable to spend a few extra hours in bed because you have a Busy Life awaiting your participation, do not speak of it. Not to your friends, your family, your Facebook followers, your journal, your cat….zip it. Because the more you focus on how “tired” your are, the more you’re reinforcing the fatigue. And odds are good that you’ll be able to give it another try in 14-16 hours.

Do take care of yourself. Do move intentionally, drink lots of water and show up as best you can. Meditation helps. And if it’s affecting your health and safety overall, see a professional. The internet is filled with advice on this very subject. For me, however, this tiny tip was most effective: just stop the internal/external narration about your sleep deficit. I do this regularly, with great results.

Let me know how it goes for you!