Pacing and Leading
When they are in rapport with you, the clients you interact with are more likely, to be honest and trusting, to be receptive to your ideas, to listen to your advice and to remember the interaction with pleasure.
There's quite a bit of video footage of pairs of people in conversation, unconsciously adopting similar postures. When one of them spontaneously moves to a new posture, such as leaning back and putting their hands behind their head, the other will immediately copy them.
We are also sensitive to signals that break rapport. When you want to end a conversation, it's not necessary to stand up and put your coat on! Even on the phone, just a change of voice tone and a word like, "Well ...", is usually enough to indicate that time's up.
We seem to be very susceptible to being led.
But remember this is only the first step or foundation stone of an ongoing coaching relationship. There is another level a cash flow coach needs to go.
As a cash flow coach, we can recognise early that our client needs to accept and adopt a behavioural change or a change of plan or to take on a different role.
We want to lead them into a new behaviour of some kind, and we want them to be committed and willing participants.
However, before they follow, clients need to experience a minimum amount of time in rapport with the would-be coach. This is called "pacing". It means "going along" with another person, at their pace, until they are ready to change.
A good example of this is the situation of seeking to calm someone who is angry or upset. It is crucial to match their emotional state for a while before attempting to lead them into a new state. You would match their posture, expression and voice tone while you talk about the problem - expressing sympathy and concern for their feelings. You would ask questions rather than expressing your own opinions.
This pacing stage fulfils their need to have their distress acknowledged. As it proceeds, you'll notice their emotional temperature decreasing to the point where you can lead them. You might suggest getting a coffee or moving to somewhere more comfortable. You'll also lead the conversation into a more constructive, "What can we do about this?" area.
If you attempt to lead without the pacing, you'll probably be unsuccessful. They might go with you for a coffee, but they won't experience a change of state. They will resist.
The same principles apply in other change contexts. The nature of the pacing will be different, but it's still necessary. For example, if you tell a cash flow client, ‘what they should do’ you'll probably get a range of reactions. From "What do you know” to "I’ll need to think about that." There will be resistance, even if it's not immediately expressed.
Now, to pace people, you have to start from where they are. This means acknowledging their current beliefs and presuppositions. Your conversation with them (perhaps several conversations) has to start by considering the situation as it is - good points and bad. You recognise how things came to be as they are. Then you can lead them into understanding the need for change. In fact, you allow them to go through the same thinking processes that led to the conclusion you've already reached.
If you try to short-cut this process, then you'll be resisted.
There are no resistant clients, only inflexible communicators - resistance is a sign of insufficient pacing.
So, by developing our communication skills, we can become more effective leaders and people will follow. Mostly!
Occasionally we come across individuals who simply can't make the change we're asking of them. In contrast with the example above where we assume that the angry person is capable of being calm, sometimes there are mental barriers that render the proposed change literally impossible for someone. These barriers are similar in effect to phobias and can be just as powerful.
Pacing is a key element to establishing rapport, and matching and mirroring are important aspects of pacing.
Pacing involves eliciting information, observing the client and selecting one or more of the client’s body language so you can adapt your own body language to match those aspects of the client’s behaviour.
Sometimes pacing will occur naturally and spontaneously. In other situations, you will need to consciously select pacing tools when you sense there is something missing from the conversation.
Combinations of the following pacing techniques and body language are useful, and you will develop your own favourites. However, you should always be sensitive to the best pacing technique for any given client and in any given situation.
Rate of speech
Rhythm of speech
Tone of voice
Volume of voice
Eye movement patterns
Pacing can be done verbally, as well as physically through body language. Using someone’s own words (backtracking) and using particular ‘softeners’ in your language can both be powerful ways to build rapport in a conversation.
You have probably heard of paraphrasing. Backtracking is similar although it has a heightened focus on tuning into the reality of the client. It is a powerful rapport-building technique because it shows you are really listening and that you really ‘get’ what they are saying. It creates an agreement; at conscious and unconscious levels.
Effective backtracking requires you to listen for the most important, keywords the client says. Then, rephrase what they’ve said, making sure to use those exact ‘marker’ words.
“I need to allocate funds for a regular holiday. I like to really unwind, relax, get away from the city noise, lay on a beach, read a book with the sound of the ocean in the distance.”
Cash Flow Coach Backtrack:
“Aah, yes the sound of the ocean is such a nice change from the city noise. And relaxing with a good book – it's important to reinvigorate oneself”
When conversing with a client, it is important to ask questions and re-check the facts they are telling you. As well as providing a free-flow of information this can assist in establishing rapport. The key to this, when questioning the client, is that they don’t feel interrogated or shut down.
One way to establish rapport in conversation (and ultimately build trust) is to use ‘softeners’. These are phrases that soften the edges of questions or statements that might otherwise seem too blunt.
Examples of softeners are: -
“Sounds to me like …”
“We often find that …”
“Tell me more about …”
“I’m just curious to know…”
“I was wondering whether …”
Leading assumes you know where you want the conversation to go or activities to be undertaken. You’ll need a general objective but the more specific that objective is, the better. Leading starts with outlining, in your head, the direction you want the conversation to go. Having a mental mind map helps you keep things on course as you assist the client in pursuing their goal.
Leading a client to new behaviour or position is done by: -
Pacing their behaviour
Gradually mismatching your behaviour
Noting the client is following your lead
elevateB provides the training program as well as support and ongoing development for certified cash flow coaches. Individuals who choose to work with a certified cash flow coach are better placed to achieve financial independence and security. If you would like to make a difference and help everyday Australians be more financially prudent and savvy, consider becoming a cash flow coach today. Click here.