by Jennifer Bryant, M.A.
For most of us, a day doesn’t go by where we are not sending and receiving email. Whether you use email to connect with friends, clients or to expand business networks, you can use some simple NLP techniques to easily maximize your email connections.
In general, we tend to like people who seem similar to us. You might think this is due to shared interests or some other kind of compatibility. Yet, from NLP we know there are specific elements of our communication patterns that create bonds which are more influential than shared interests, personal attributes, or even personality.
These elements make up the structure of our communication. This does not refer to what we say, but rather, how we say what we say.
The key to excellent rapport via email is to notice these elements in messages from others and use them in your responses. This creates the impression that “this person is just like me.” The result is a comfort level that paves the way for an easy connection.
Here are some elements of communication to be aware of:
1. Identify and use similar types of sensory words
(‘seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘feeling’)
Does the sender use one kind of sensory language more than others, or is there a mix? In your response, use the same type or types of sensory language.
Here are some examples with rapport enhancing responses. The first example uses ‘seeing’ type of language:
Let’s meet for lunch and look at the statements from Jan/02. I want to get your viewpoint on the proposal.
I’m looking forward to lunch and sharing my views on the proposal.
Here’s an example of ‘hearing’ types of language:
I heard you were going to be in town Friday and was hoping we could meet for lunch. How does that sound?
Sounds great. I know a quiet restaurant where we can talk. I’ll call you when I get in.
Here’s an example of ‘feeling’ language…
Kate and I would love it if you could join us to go over our travel plans. We’re hoping to have a calm and relaxing vacation this year.
I’m so glad you stayed in touch. I’d be happy to meet and help firm up your plans.
2. Sentence length and style
Notice sentence length. Are they short and to the point, or longer and more complex? The next examples convey exactly the same information but use different structures:
I just wanted to know if you are available for a meeting on Wednesday?
(Introductory clause, longer)
Are you available Wednesday for a meeting?
(Short, right to the point)
3. Use of acronyms/abbreviations
Some people abbreviate words like ‘meeting’ to ‘mtg.,’ or ‘Wednesday’, to ‘Wed.’ Chat room abbreviations might also make their way into emails.
Needless to say, it’s a rapport builder if, in your reply, you use abbreviations similar to those that were in the initial email.
4. Salutations/degree of formality
Match salutation and sign offs with either the same or similar ones. If you receive an email with Dear Mr. Jones, address your reply in the same fashion. If the writing is casual (“Hey there”) adopt that tone.
The same goes for sign offs. If they’ve included professional information after their name, do the same with your reply, and arrange the information in a similar format.
5. General structure
If someone writes a brief email, reply in the same way. If they give lots of detail, then include similar amounts in your response. Notice how the information is
presented: is each idea in a separate paragraph, is the email one big paragraph, or a bit of both?
Overall, you probably have a preference for email style that is similar to your own. If you like them to the point, those long emails with the happy faces just might
drive you nuts.
The key to excellent communication is having the flexibility to mimic someone else’s style. Just as you wouldn’t wear a business suit to the beach, matching someone else’s structure of communication is a powerful way to create connections and foster excellent e-rapport. Oh, and if those smiley faces are getting you down, just pass this article along.
Jennifer Bryant, M.A. completed her Master Practitioner in 2003 and returned to coach with us in Winter Park in 2004. She is in private practice in in Ottawa, Canada and trains for her own organization as well as Georgian Bay NLP. She can be reached at [email protected]