“Communication is the key, but
creating Rapport is more powerful still.”
It is not impossible that throughout the course of your day, you can talk to and interact with, so many different people. But the question is, who are you building meaningful connections with? It’s not likely to be everyone that you talk to, is it? And it all boils down to whether you have managed to build rapport with any of those people.
“Rapport is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
That being said, rapport is the ability to enter someone’s world to make them feel understood and form a common bond. As individuals, we have a number of basic needs; and some of those include that we need to feel Loved, Understood and Respected. Your friends and family (including your monosyllabic teenager) are no exception.
How to Connect Better with your Teen?
Firstly, it helps when you pay attention to their world. Pay attention to what is going on. It might not feel earth-shattering to you – but it’s very important to them. Perhaps try asking about the latest video game they are playing, or whether they are sitting next to someone they like in class. Show some interest in their ‘hysterical story’ about what happened on the bus today. Because it’s those little things that create your child’s world and that’s really important to them. That’s what they are living every single day.
Paying attention is saying – “You Matter Too.” It’s respecting everyone’s place in the world.
Rapport builds on the similarities that you have, whilst also respecting the differences between you. It’s so important to acknowledge our differences – and knowing that it’s OK that we have them. Variety is the spice of life – right? And this is never more important than in the home.
Having a teenager in the house is all about accepting and being responsive to change. Problems arise, if for the teenager, their parents appear close-minded and rigid in their approach to these changes. That’s what being a teenager is all about – changing and becoming a new person; so if they are unable to spread their wings within the home and see how adulthood ‘feels’, of course they are likely to resist!
This is a time for careful consideration and adjustment!
Teenagers tend to be tenacious about their likes and dislikes and also their own individuality. This is because they are starting to create their young adult identity and they are trying to fathom out where they fit in. This often leads to them developing new beliefs and values that differ from their parents. Take an early example of music preferences; this is often the first (and safest way) for a child to challenge their previous upbringing and test out what suits them better. These new choices do not have to lead to conflict as it is a natural progression on a child’s path to “grown-up thinking” … but many parents take this transformation as an affront to their previous parenting approach and take the changes very personally.
Families are the foundation of everything a child will become. It is the family that teaches them first-hand, the discipline and principles that he will be needing to survive the challenges of life.
“Families are the compass that guides us.
They are an inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
~~ Brad Henry
How do we build rapport when emotions are running high?
Funnily enough – it’s not ALL about the words that we use. There are so many other factors in play. It helps to pay attention to the tone of the voices that you can hear and the body language because that’s how we can start building better connections.
Your family is a team. That team is a group of individuals; all of whom have their own different characteristics – which are to be respected if you are to get along. That is what relationships are all about. This is a new way of operating for parents – who have previously enjoyed autonomy within the ‘team’.
How do we build rapport?
10% of the communication is down to the words that you use and 90% of everything else.
Much of good rapport is trying to get you and the other person in sync with one another. It’s called Mirroring; and there are a number of tell tale signs to watch out for :
Find that common bond between one another – Yes, we are all unique individuals – but when we find commonality – we find what can draw us together. Start by watching a movie together or enjoying your favourite restaurant meal. You don’t have to all like exactly the same things. Take responsibility for your own feelings and your part in the conversation. Remember, that it’s unwise to try and change someone else’s opinion! Good rapport is when everything’s going along swimmingly and you’re enjoying each other’s company, that’s all.
Simply ask their opinion – what do they think about something? In early childhood – parents are their child’s ‘manager’. But that changes when their children become teenagers. Start looking at your role more as a mentor. It therefore helps to find out where they stand and what their opinions are. Teenagers need to use parents as a sounding board – to see what it’s like to actually voice their opinions. They are not likely to get it right first time – so allow them the space to develop.
Notice the tone of voice – when you’re talking to your child, listen to the tone of voice. You can get a sense of how they are feeling just by listening to their tone of voice. Concentrate also on their breathing. If they are agitated then it’s likely to be shallower and faster.
Bringing the charge down a bit – if someone is cross or angry, you need to diffuse the situation a bit before you try and connect with them. Rather than hit someone with an argument at the same pace (loud voices and wild gestures) – emotions are too highly charged at this point to make a difference. Remain calm and encourage them to take deep breaths to slow down a bit.
Look at the body language – look at the person’s movement and how they are presenting themselves. Are they open and expansive or threatened and closed? Building rapport – is about those commonalities. When you want to build that connection, try to match their body language. If they are sitting back in their seat – copy that. Watch out though – if you start mirroring the body language badly, it can be really alienating as well.
If you don’t understand, seek clarification – there is nothing worse than misunderstanding something because you’re making an assumption and actually, you’ve got the meaning wrong. It is worth observing what they’re saying but also seek clarification if you need to.
Listen to their language – what kind of language are they using, not only slang but are there big broad ideas or very detailed concepts? Because how you communicate with that person is very different. I speak to my son very differently to my daughter. If I spoke to them in the wrong way, I would not get the results I was hoping for.
I encourage you to try this little exercise : go and see how other people interact. Go and sit in a coffee shop and watch how people are naturally communication. Watch a group of girlfriends – and see their commonality. Go look at a mum and her kids – and see their body language. Go look at two people in the ‘meeting’ and just watch and see how they are building rapport successfully or not as the case may be.
“In a relationship – when communication starts to fade – everything else starts to follow.”
As always – please drop any questions in the COMMENTS box below.
I have a video series on YouTube : All about Communicating Better with your Teenager.
Have a look here for the FIRST episode on Rapport : CLICK this link or the image below
If you want to keep this conversation going – why not come and join my facebook group : PARENTS : Teen Toolbox ™️.
It’s full of like-minded parents wanting the best for their kids.
Supporting Parents Build a Mentally Healthier and
Happier Generation of Young People