Resistance – The Lack of Rapport

When it comes to communication, leadership, relationship management, even parenting rapport – it is most common, and very easy, to blame the other person when there is resistance, and therefore the lack of rapport. “He’s a very resistant person!” “She just doesn’t take feedback well.” We might even say that it is human nature to think that where there is resistance, there is a stubborn, strong-willed, resistant person. And it seems all the easier to jump to this conclusion especially if what you are presenting seems to you to be reasonable.
But NLP takes a different stance about this. The basic NLP concept about resistance is the presupposition – Resistance First And Foremost Indicates The Lack Of Rapport.
Do you find that shocking? Then let’s take the shock out of it in the following way. Think of resistance as feedback about the way you are relating to the other person. That is, just as “the meaning of your communication is the result that you get” (another NLP concept we explore at Meta-NLP Prac), when you get resistance, it makes sense-to the other person. That person is resisting whatever you are saying or imposing or expecting. The resistance speaks to what you are saying and perhaps how you are saying it.

Basic Rapport Guidelines

The power of this basic concept is that it puts you in control of the situation with something that you can now do to make things better. If resistance is the lack of rapport, then work on connecting with the person, on getting rapport, and on making it safe or safer for them to interact with you. Hence, to frame the resistance as solely and entirely as a problem of the other person takes any chance of change out of your hands.
Now normally we read resistance as something that’s bad. “It’s bad that someone resists.” We often read it as failure or difficulty and throw up our hands in resignation. We give up on the person. We assume that the other person cannot be influenced. Yet these are premature evaluations.
Further, they lead to un-useful responses. We then view resistance as a trigger for feeling bad and then fail to develop the skills necessary to effectively work with the resistance. Frame it in this way, then that’s the results.
As a result, NLP reframes all of that. When you reframe resistance as the lack of rapport shifts responsibility back to us. Now it is a function of how we handle things and relate to the person. This frame empowers you to re-establish rapport even with the grouchy, the grumpy, the out-of-sorts, and the hurting person. It enables you to continue communicating even in the face of anger and sarcasm without taking it personal. It keeps you matching the person’s internal reality and finding the words that correspond to what’s happening inside the other person.

Connecting With Others Using Rapport

With this concept, you focus on rapport building rather than on resistance as the problem. It focuses your attention on what you are doing that’s connecting or disconnecting with the person. Rapport also reminds us that before agreement comes understanding and that when a person does not feel understood, they will naturally resist our influence. Here’s some good news. Focusing on understanding does not require that you agree, only that you take the time to step into “second perceptual position” and see things from the other person’s point of view. So when you can do that accurately, you can then speak about the other person’s point of view with as much precision and quality as the person himself. And when you do that, you match the person’s internal awareness thereby enabling him to feel heard.
That can be absolutely magical. That’s partly because when a person feels heard, she does not have to repeat herself. In fact, when she hears her point expressed accurately and fully by you, she will tend to relax. Hence all of the motivation to keep speaking in order to be heard diminishes.
Your acknowledgment and summary lets her know that you have heard her. To follow that up, you can further ask, “Have I missed anything? Do I have that right? That’s your point?”

The Gift Between Us

Even if you can’t win the other’s mind to the point where he agrees with you, you have given the other person a great gift -understanding. And if there’s anything that we all want, it is understanding. Feeling understood and feeling heard are great gifts and can be powerfully healing when there are differences and conflict. It is foundational for collaboration.
Once you frame resistance as signifying the lack of rapport, that frame focuses your attention on the relationship between you and the person resisting you. It eliminates blame and replaces blame with curiosity. Now you can focus on what the person is resisting and why. It frequently is not what you think it is. Do that and you’ll re-establish rapport.

Basic Yet High Quality – Living Guidelines

In conclusion, what a great NLP concept- resistance is the lack of rapport. Now obviously, this is not absolute.
As with all of these basic concepts, there are exceptions. But exceptions do not invalidate the basic principle. That’s what these concepts are – basic guidelines for living, communicating, getting along, etc. Sure, resistance can arise from other sources. That’s not the point of this basic NLP guideline. The purpose of this guideline is to direct our attention first to ourselves. And that also is one of our central themes in Neuro-Semantics– apply to self.

Interested to learn more?

Join us at Meta-NLP Practitioner in March and April in Orange NSW, contact us now The Coaching Centre on 0439194323

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