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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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The Art Of Pace and Rapport

Two more stories from the front line ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 22/09/2022 @ 8:00AM

When I undertook my basic training in the RAF nursing service, we were taken out on the parade ground to learn drill and how to march ...

We didn't understand marching at first, but it was to teach us pace and rapport!

We didn't understand marching at first, but it was to teach us pace and rapport!

copyright: overcrew / 123rf

We understood it was a necessary part of the military and assumed it was just to instil a sense of discipline. Then one day we had to go by foot for some distance, and we were lined up and marched. Almost instantly I understood marching.

"It was more than just about making sure everyone got
from A to B together!"

The pace, rhythm, movement of my body and sound of feet made me part of one larger being, all of us were in synch. It was a feeling that made the whole walk easier and took apparently no time and very little energy to achieve. We felt together and supportive not only on the walk, but afterwards too. Oh, so now we knew what marching is for!

My second story is about meeting a fellow course member in the car park at the training venue on the second day of a course. We didn't know each other except for exchanging a few pleasantries the day before. It was a long walk to the training room, and my companion set off at a brisk walk with me padding alongside trying to keep up and make conversation. We weren't late, so I didn't feel we needed to hurry.

When we arrived in class, I chose a seat on the other side of the room from my walking companion. Somehow, I never got around to talking to her again and took to parking my car in a different part of the car park.

I was reminded of these stories when re-reading Daniel Goleman's book on Social Intelligence. Chapter three is called 'Neural WiFi' and explains how our brains are wired to pick up signals from other brains that are then incorporated into our own feelings.

We read others' minds this way, but more importantly, our brains are wired to respond in synchronicity. If you smile, I feel happy, so I smile, and you feel happy! We're in synch and we start to bond.

Think of the language we use when we're comfortable with someone. We're in tune with them so what they say resonates with us; we talk the same language, and we're on the same wavelength. She's my type of person. We think alike. We know how to be and how to feel like this person. We talk about reciprocity, sharing being as one.

"We call it rapport!"

Now, there are lots of signals we give people for achieving this bond and the one that my stories illustrate is pace and rhythm. The marching was a formal way to quickly achieve this rapport and give us a good feeling in what could have been an energy-sapping walk.

My experience with my fellow student was uncomfortable physically. I was doing that awkward series of half running then trying to match her steps, getting behind and then half running again to catch up.

There was no rhythm, just a series of jerky movements and no sense that we were together. My physical discomfort made me judge the meaning behind her signals to be unfriendly. I reasoned she either had no awareness of my discomfort or just couldn't be bothered to adjust her pace to make me more comfortable.

Either way, the signal I assumed she was giving was "I have no wish to bond with you" (or something ruder), and sure enough I got the message, and the only thing we achieved was me ignoring her for the rest of the course.

So, my networking tip for you is to match the pace of others you meet to help establish rapport. Become aware of their response to your pace and slow down or speed up accordingly.

Be aware that we make our first judgment at an unconscious level, immediately after we first see someone. So, your first warning that you may not be in tune with this person will be a punch of emotion, at the least mild irritation and at worst outright fear and they will pick up your response equally quickly and unconsciously.

Fortunately, your conscious brain, which acts much slower, will catch up and you can actively adjust your pace and break what can become a negative cycle. After all, this person hasn't even spoken to you yet and there you are writing them off.

One last trick you may like to try. Next time you're networking, stand back a bit and do some people-watching. Watch someone who you think makes networking look easy. I bet you that they adjust their pace according to the person they are with.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about rapport, how to make wonderful new relationships and strengthen those you already have, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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