If one wants to make rapport, one can mirror the other person. But mind you if you start to copy them exactly this will only irritate the other.

Empathy. – To understand another person, that is, to imitate his feelings in ourselves, we do indeed often go back to the reason for his feeling thus or thus and ask for example: why is he troubled? – so as then for the same reason to become troubled ourselves; but it is much more usual to omit to do this and instead to produce the feeling in ourselves after the effects it exerts and displays on the other person by imitating with our own body the expression of his eyes, his voice, his walk, his bearing (or even their reflection in word, picture, music). Then a similar feeling arises in us in consequence of an ancient association between movement and sensation, which has been trained to move backwards or forwards in either direction. We have brought our skill in understanding the feelings of others to a high state of perfection and in the presence of another person we are always almost involuntarily practising this skill: one should observe especially the play on the faces of women and how they quiver and glitter in continual imitation and reflection of what is felt to be going on around them. But it is music which reveals to us most clearly what masters we are in the rapid and subtle divination of feelings and in empathising: for, though music is an imitation of an imitation of feelings, it nonetheless and in spite of this degree of distance and indefiniteness often enough makes us participants in these feelings, so that, like perfect fools, we grow sad without there being the slightest occasion for sorrow merely because we hear sounds and rhythms which somehow remind us of the tone-of-voice and movements of mourners, or even of no more than their customary usages. It is told of a Danish king that he was wrought up to such a degree of warlike fury by the music of his minstrel that he leaped from his seat and killed five people of his assembled court: there was no war, no enemy, rather the reverse, but the drive which from the feeling infers the cause was sufficiently strong to overpower observation and reason. But that is almost always the effect of music (supposing it capable of producing an effect at all – ), and one does not require such paradoxical cases to see this: the state of feeling into which music transports us almost always contradicts the real situation we are apparently in and the reasoning powers which recognize this real situation and its causes. – If we ask how we became so fluent in the imitation of the feelings of others the answer admits of no doubt: man, as the most timid of all creatures on account of his subtle and fragile nature, has in his timidity the instructor in that empathy, that quick understanding of the feelings of another (and of animals). Through long millennia he saw in everything strange and lively a danger: at the sight of it he at once imitated the expression of the features and the bearing and drew his conclusion as to the kind of evil intention behind these features and this bearing. Man has even applied this interpretation of all movements and lineaments as deriving from intention to inanimate nature – in the delusion that there is nothing inanimate: I believe that all we call feeling for nature at the sight of sky, meadow, rocks, forest, storms, stars, sea, landscape, spring, has its origin here – without the primeval habit, born of fear, of seeing behind all this a second, hidden meaning, we would not now take pleasure in nature, just as we would take no pleasure in man and animal without this same instructor in understanding, fear. For pleasure and pleased astonishment, finally the sense of the ridiculous, are the later-born children of empathy and the much younger siblings of fear. – The capacity for understanding – which, as we have seen, rests on the capacity for rapid dissimulation – declines in proud, arrogant men and peoples, because they have less fear: on the other hand, every kind of understanding and self-dissembling is at home among timid peoples; here is also the rightful home of the imitative arts and of the higher intelligence. – If, from the standpoint of such a theory of empathy as I have here suggested, I think of the theory, just at this time much loved and sanctified, of a mystical process by virtue of which pity makes two beings into one and in this way makes possible the immediate understanding of the one by the other: when I recall that so clear a head as Schopenhauer’s took pleasure in such frivolous and worthless rubbish and passed this pleasure on to other clear and not-so-clear heads: then there is no end to my amazement and compassion! How great must be our joy in incomprehensible nonsense! How close to the madman does the sane man stand when he pays heed to his secret intellectual desires! – (For what did Schopenhauer really feel so grateful and so deeply indebted to Kant? The answer was once revealed quite unambiguously: someone had spoken of how Kant’s categorical imperative could be deprived of its occult qualities and be made comprehensible. Thereupon Schopenhauer burst out: ‘The categorical imperative comprehensible! What a fundamentally perverse idea! What Egyptian darkness! Heaven forbid that it should ever become comprehensible! For that there is something incomprehensible, that this misery of the understanding and its concepts is limited, conditional, finite, deceptive: the certainty of this is Kant’s greatest gift to us.’ – Let us ask ourselves whether anyone who feels happy in believing in the incomprehensibility of moral things can be sincerely interested in acquiring a knowledge of them! One who still honestly believes in inspirations from on high, in magic and spiritual apparitions, and in the metaphysical ugliness of the toad!)

Daybreak paragraph 142


Rapport is one of the most used and well known parts of NLP. Most of the time it is wrongly explained as connecting well with other people. The term in fact comes from Milton Erickson. He discovered that if you hypnotize someone it is hard for other people to influence the hypnotized person. This is what it means to have rapport.

The Hermit Speaks. — The art of associating with men rests essentially on one’s skillfulness (which presupposes long exercise) in accepting a repast, in taking a repast, in the cuisine of which one has no confidence. Provided one comes to the table with the hunger of a wolf everything is easy (“the worst society gives thee experience” — as Mephistopheles says) ; but one has not always this wolf’s hunger when one needs it! Alas I how difficult are our fellow-men to digest! First principle: to stake one’s courage as in a misfortune, to seize boldly, to admire oneself at the same time, to take one’s repugnance between one’s teeth, to cram down one’s disgust. Second principle: to “improve” one’s fellow-man, by praise for example, so that he may begin to sweat out his self-complacency ; or to seize a tuft of his good or “interesting” qualities, and pull at it till one gets his whole virtue out, and can put him under the folds of it. Third principle: self-hypnotism. To fix one’s eye on the object of one’s intercourse as on a glass knob, until, ceasing to feel pleasure or pain thereat, one falls asleep unobserved, becomes rigid, and acquires a fixed pose: a household recipe used in married life and in friendship, well tested and prized as indispensable, but not yet scientifically formulated. Its proper name is — patience —

Gay Science paragraph 364

To think that one always needs to make rapport is a mistake. NLP offers different techniques like mirroring as a way to establish if rapport is needed. In many cases there is no need for rapport. In many other cases people have rapport automatically and trying to establish rapport breaks the rapport that was already there.

Trust and intimacy. – He who deliberately seeks to establish an intimacy with another person is usually in doubt as to whether he possesses his trust. He who is sure he is trusted sets little value on intimacy.

Human, All Too Human, part 1, paragraph 303