Improve your communication through non-verbal rapport

At Scrum Gathering Orlando, I ran an experiential workshop titled Improve your communication through non-verbal rapport. The session turned out really well so thanks to everyone who participated. My only tools were a flip chart and some markers, so the purpose of this post is to provide details for attendees as well as provide visibility to anyone interested in better communication.

(Part 6 of 5 blogs on the Scrum Gathering in Orlando – ok, so not very good at counting ;-)

Mehrabian Study

Amazingly, only 7% of communication is based on words while 38% is based on tonality and 55% on physiology.

The Mehrabian Study produced these numbers to quantify the importance of non-verbal communication.




Briefly, rapport is about making and feeling a connection with another person. We do this automatically with our friends: we match physiology and tonality. The key practice for connecting with others is to:

  1. Face a similar direction
  2. Be at the same or lower height
  3. Match the angle of their spine and head tilt.

This goes a long way towards making a comfortable connection.  For more on rapport refer to NLP: The New Technology of Achievement by Steve Andreas, and Charles Faulkner.

Keys to great communication

There are some important approaches that complement non-verbal rapport skills.

I just posted on Crucial Conversations.

Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has two models that relate to effective communication.

Win/Win is about seeking a good outcome for everyone involved – seeking a long-term, sustainable relationship.

“Seek first to understand, then be understood is about really listening to people around you. To really connect, you need to understand the person and where they are coming from.


Exercise to understand rapport

Caution: These exercises are here for those who attended the workshop and want to use them to help others. Please attend a workshop before trying these on your own.

This exercise is about getting an internal sense of how important rapport is in conversation.

Exercise to sense broken rapport

This exercise is about practicing rapport and getting a sense of what it is like for rapport to be broken.

Want to learn more?

These are some of the skill that I learned as an NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) Practitioner. I have found Practitioner as well as Master Practioner skills to be an important part of my toolkit as an Agile Coach.

I strongly recommend Wauneen McMonagle Innergize Training if you are interested in building skills in this area.

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  • David Sheriff Said,

    March 19, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    Kudos for both method and content. The way you integrate hand-drawn graphics and descriptive text makes this session much easier to understand for someone who was not there. Did you actually capture the flip charts from the session or did you re- (or pre- ) draw them?

  • Michael Sahota Said,

    March 19, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

    Hi David, thanks for the kind words.

    I did the drawings to prepare for the session and to share information afterwards with participants. These are done on paper. For details see:

    In the actual session, I just drew critical parts on a flipchart with more verbal content.

  • Keys to great communication « Maggie's Process Book Said,

    November 9, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

    […] complete article is @ Categories: Phase III-Content: Communication Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  • Michael Sahota Said,

    November 19, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    Footnote. Although all of the above is valid, a greater truth is that all that really matters is what you think about someone. All the exercises can be run simply based on mental stance towards a person: caring vs. hostility.

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