Intentional Rapport

I have conversations with my cat. Even more astonishingly, my cat has conversations with me. I often ask myself what the noises she hears and makes actually mean to her and, even though I have no answer to my question, I regularly marvel at our rapport.

Rapport is a big word in coaching. We coaches are trained in a set of skills broadly known as Rapport Building Skills. My cat has taught me that there is more to rapport building than reflecting each other's words and mirroring each other's body movements. It's impossible for me to accurately match my cat's body movements and her reflecting my words is not a possibility either. Yet we have rapport.

As a result of communicating with my cat, I have come to realise that we communicate our intention very clearly, even without words or gestures. Of course, we expect our pets to pick up on our moods and emotions, but our intention? Yes, I think so.

If I tell my cat in a honey voice to wait for me to feed her and I know (for whatever reason) that I have no intention of doing so, she complains loudly and continuously. She isn't fooled for a minute. If I use the same words and the same tone of voice but with the firm intention to feed her as soon as I have completed my current task, my cat sits down and waits patiently and silently. This never ceases to amaze and amuse me.

She knows when I mean it.  I think we all do. If I don't let myself be distracted, overwhelmed or intimidated by external factors, I too pick up internally on the other's intention irrespective of the words that are spoken and the body language that is used. What's more, I pick up on my own intention too, whether I hear myself say one thing or another. I too know when I mean it.

I remember asking myself out loud before every coaching session with a client 'what is my intention in this next session?' I used to do it because it felt like good practice to get myself ready to coach - I never fully appreciated the impact that preparation was having on my clients. My answer to my intention question was always 'to provide a safe supportive environment for the other to explore his/her own brilliance'. Nowadays, I feel very strongly that my intention was not just good preparatory practice; I believe it was a key component of my coaching.

When I go back to coaching I feel I will need to express my intention slightly differently: my intention will be to Share Love. It'll be as simple as that. Intentional Rapport: isn't that what Love is?

And if my cat can tell the difference between one intention and another, then I know my clients will too. What's more, so will I ...   :0)

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