When you’re having chats and conversations with your rangatahi, you can choose to use a vastly underrated communication technique. 

It’s called rapport

Rapport has its origins in French where it literally means what is carried out; is brought back. 

The English version of the word rapport is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.’ 

There are a couple of phrases for rapport in te reo Māori too that I really love. The first one is hono-ā rongo which translates as connected listening. The second one is rongo manawa,  listening with your heart. Both of these phrases paint me a picture of what rapport actually looks like. They give me that elasticity of connection, and that feeling of heart-centered love that casts a warm, mellow glow over a conversation. 

Rapport in a family grows over time. It’s grown (or not) from communication patterns shaped by a shared history, memories, and generational influences. 

Rapport is unique, highly individualised, and is neither right nor wrong. It is simply the basics of trust; it’s the way our energy meets. 

Because it’s there anyway, let’s use rapport to our advantage in a conversation or chat with our rangatahi. 

Use rapport with intention

Rapport builds trust and enhances influence – so the intention behind the rapport is vitally important. 

Being genuinely in rapport means you are open to listening to another’s point of view. 

Good rapport takes you to a deeper level of conversation. A level of conversation where you are able to influence each other and understand each other better. 

Listen carefully, with your whole body. If you can sit in a similar position as they are sitting, do.

Give back as much eye contact as they give you. 

If they’re talking quietly and reflectively, match their tone and the speed of their words. 

Take note of the words they emphasise. These are the keywords, the words you want to reflect back to them. You may hear your rangatahi say a sentence like, “it was fantastic. I really enjoyed myself.” You reply, “It sounds like you had a fantastic time.” Then pause, and wait for them to nod – this is really important because it’s telling you they are in rapport with you – before continuing, “Tell me what you enjoyed the most.” 

Sharing experiences together leads to stronger connections

If you want to influence your rangatahi you don’t have to agree with them, but you do need to understand and know where the values they hold so dearly come from. 

Naturally, the opposite is also true. When you are out of rapport with another person you lose the opportunity to influence them. 

Which means …

The times when our rangatahi challenge us are the most important times to listen and to be in rapport with them. This is hard because you (yourself, in your brain)  will be dealing with a whole lot of underlying values.

If you slip out of rapport it will show in your body language; you may find yourself (or them) turning away, looking away, or crossing your arms. 

And if you notice that, well done. We so often rush past the small things. 

This really counts. 

A challenge is a perfect opportunity to explore what they think. When you want to understand your rangatahi and explore their emerging beliefs and values you will need to button your disagreement. 

Boundary setting can be challenging.

What is more important now is to find out where your rangatahi is coming from. What are the values that are influencing their choices and their behaviour? 

It’s a paradox. When they know you understand them, when they feel seen, heard, and acknowledged, you have a much bigger chance of influencing them. 

And rapport, used well, will get you there. 

Someone very clever once said, “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  

Agreed. Let’s get it sorted. Now.

If you are looking for tools to deepen your relationship with your rangatahi, head over to www.beautifulconversations.co.nz/coaching and find your best-fit options.