I have just had a great week away with my family after running the London marathon. It was our first family holiday away since having children and we had a great time together. Having run London marathon, nothing beats cycling around a hilly Centreparcs environment towing two children in a trailer! My legs were loving it.
We did get to spend plenty of time screaming on waterslides, jumping through waves, relaxing in whirlpools and being launched through white water rapids while we were there though, and I think I enjoyed it more than my children.
Just before the marathon, I wrote an article entitled Top Ten Psychological Tips for Marathon Race Day which has some very valid and valuable information for everyone, not just those looking to run marathons, do have a read if you do not regularly follow my hypnosis for running blog.
Upon returning to my office on Tuesday of this week, I immediately posted my report of London marathon. If you’d like to read my report, see some of the photos I took, and some of the photos taken of me when I was running it, then here you go. The Hypnosis For Running 2015 London Marathon Race Report.
Since then, part of my latest schedule has involved me being introduced to trail running. I had a rather ‘interesting’ time of it last weekend when I went out into the Purbecks here in Dorset. If you’d like to see some photos from my trail run, along with a video I recorded at the top of a hill in some of the most treacherous conditions I have ever faced, then go read this.The Joy of Trail Running (sarcasm alert!). That’s what I’ve been up to anyway, I hope you didn’t miss me too much during my brief absence here on my main hypnosis blog….
Here in the UK, we are voting for our next government today! Politics are very different today than previously in my own lifetime and I foresee much change in the way our political system exists in coming years. On my personal Facebook page, I wrote the following last night:Tomorrow I shall be voting idealistically, for a party that have virtually no chance of getting more than one seat in parliament, yet they have 4-7% of total votes. It is highly unlikely that any one single party will win the election with an overall majority. The first past the post system is dead on its feet in this era of modern politics and surely it is time we tried to make proportional representation work. Most European governments are made up of collaborating coalitions that represent the diversity of modern life and it’s people, yet here in the UK we have antiquated parties and a system that do not represent our diversity, our real ideals, our real values and there is much indifference, passivity and disillusionment towards them with little hope that future self-serving parties will ever try to change it. I hope we get reform soon and I hope that tomorrow is the final time I vote with a sense of doom and pessimism about the political climate in my beloved home country.

I later on added in the comments:

I don’t want to vote for someone just to try and stop someone else getting in, or vote out of protest. I want to believe in the party. I want to vote for someone who wants reform, modernisation and heck, it may not be realistic right now, but I love the Greens and their idealism, they represent me best currently.Then I added this image…..


I could go on and on about why I vote this way and how it does feel like I am back at University with this idealistic vote, but that is not what this blog entry is about….. My own political stance is  no way near as interesting as the psychology of voting. I have read a couple of really great articles about the psychology of voting in recent weeks, in particular this one from the British Psychological Society’s research digest blog: The Psychology of Voting, Digested.
It shows research and stats about voting trends and what can affect and influence voting. Then also the following article published at the BBC is a good one too: The Psychology of Voting, An Emotional Matter?
Here in the UK, there has been so much media discussion about the kind of people that the party leaders are, how they present themselves and we have TV debates where they get to show the kind of person they are. It may sound ridiculous at first, but they are in a situation not too dissimilar to that faced by therapists upon being scrutinised by potential clients.  In order to place trust in a therapist and employ them, clients require some assurance and want to get the measure of the individual as well as their credentials as a therapist. Having done that, they then need to make the client feel safe and at ease in order to derive any kind of benefit from the therapy sessions themselves.
A few weeks ago, a friend advised me to buy a book entitled “It’s Not About Me: The Top Ten Techniques For Building Rapport With Anyone” – I was not keen as I was pretty sure I knew how to build rapport and explained that I had been doing as much for the past 18 years as a professional hypnotherapist in my consulting rooms.
There are many standard processes that therapists learn about how to make their clients feel at ease. However, my friend got me interested because he told me that the author, Robin Dreeke, was head of the FBI’s behavioural analysis programme and studied interpersonal relations for many years. He not only offers some very important points, but reminds us of the importance of other elements of rapport development that we often overlook. SO much of it is relevant to our politicians and why we vote for them, so much of it is relevant and useful to those of us that are therapists, and importantly so much of it is useful to anyone in walk of life who wants or needs to get others to like them. I’ll run through some key points made in the book:
1) Be genuinely interested in others: 
This is what Robin Dreeke refers to as “non-judgmental validation” and is whereby we seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without casting any judgement upon them. We listen intently (more on that shortly) but make sure not to judge because people do not tend to respond well to being judged.
Some people might confuse this with a need to agree with the other person, but that is not the case; there is no need to agree with them; you just need to assure the person they are being heard properly and that their needs, desires and ambitions have been understood. We choose to be genuinely interested in what is being said. The eminent psychotherapist used to refer to this as unconditional positive regard for the client – where the patient of the therapist is heard and accepted by the therapist and the therapist adopts a genuine interest in the patient.
People derive more pleasure from talking about themselves than they do from virtually anything else and when they feel heard and understood, they talk about themselves and start to associate communicating with you as being pleasurable. Rapport is now developing as we stop judging and start validating.
When politicians demonstrate that they truly understand our needs or hear our story, they become more voteable. Likewise, a therapist advances the therapeutic alliance and relationship by non-judgmental validation of the client.
2) Suspend Your Ego: 
We’ve started it already with our previous step, but it is important to focus on them and suspend our own ego, which very often gets in the way of effective rapport development.
Each day on Facebook I spend more time reading comments to posts than I do reading the actual posts. There are so many people that are desperate to point out how other people are wrong. It instantly destroys rapport and harms relationships. There is nothing to gain (rapport-wise) from correcting someone or trying to compete in a battle of ‘one-upmanship.’
I have found one of the things that harms the sense of community of the hypnosis field is how often people want to bicker and correct each other in a variety of different ways. A few weeks ago on this very hypnosis blog and in my ezine, I wrote about a recent TV show that featured hypnosis and I gave it my honest critique and I got a couple of emails from fellow hypnotherapists for whom the term ‘could start a fight in an empty house’ applies to – they just wanted to attempt to correct me rather than open a useful dialogue. It made it very difficult to have agreeable discussion. One of my own initiatives to attempt to overcome this mentality was the creation of my Hypnosis Weekly podcast whereby I engage with differing perspectives from a variety of hypnosis professionals but maintain good relationships with them regardless of the stance. By the way, Hypnosis Weekly returns very soon after a hiatus and I have been recording with some fabulous guests this week from all over the world.
When we suspend ego, we (even if only for a while) put our own needs, desires, stance and opinions to one side. We stop trying to be right or trying to correct the other person. Modern neuroscience also supports this and suggests this builds rapport. When someone hears something that contradicts their own opinion, the logical part of their mind shuts down and the brain gets ready to have a fight, responding to the contradiction as if it is a hostile attack.
Therapists don’t really give opinions, and ought not be trying to tell their clients what is right and wrong, Politicians suffer with this point though, especially if you watch those leadership debates. We can all learn how to build rapport when we suspend ego.
3) Listen well: 
By ‘listening well’ that means, not just waiting to talk yourself. As you listen, you then ask pertinent questions referring to what you’ve heard and not simply trying to come up with what you are going to say next in response. Rather than trying to impress with your own tales, you impress by listening actively.
Adopt a sense of curiosity about what they are saying and ask questions so that you can learn more about it. You stop thinking about what you want to say and end up having nothing to say. You are actively and attentively listening when you stop thinking about what you’re going to say, and are waiting for an opportunity to say it. Work out what interested you most about what you heard and ask about that, putting aside what you were inclined to say in response. There is evidence to suggest that this makes you more likeable and builds rapport as a result.
Active listening is pretty basic and simple:
– Listen to what is being said without interrupting, disagreeing or “evaluating.”
– Show you are listening by nodding your head, and making brief acknowledgements.
– Paraphrase effectively. That is, show you heard them and took it on board by repeating to them the general outline of what they just said, from their perspective.
– Follow this up by asking questions that delve further into what they have said and demonstrate that you are engaged and paying attention. That’s what we move on to next…
4) Ask good challenging questions: 
That is purposely a bit misleading… Ask people about their challenges, we all have them. So not really ask them questions that are challenging, instead ask them about their challenges that they are facing.
What challenges do they have at work, in life, with their family? What challenges do they encounter with aspects of their life that you can explore? When people discuss their challenges, it starts highlighting their values, their beliefs and what is important to them at that time in their life.
On my training courses, I teach the importance of questions in therapy. I even champion the detective Columbo for the way he feigns befuddlement and asks brilliant and invasive questions. I teach Socratic questions in particular. They show just how influential and powerful questions can be. These types of therapeutic questions are not necessarily the most appropriate for developing rapport. However, one way to really use questions to build rapport is to ask for advice.
A variety of research across a range of professional fields have shown that seeking advice is one of the most powerful ways to influence. When it is sincere and authentic. I like that because it feels less like attempting to be manipulative. The field of hypnosis, persuasion and NLP in particular seem to attract people wanting to know how to use some kind of covert influence on others that is sly and snide. It just seems to be so much more agreeable when we can be open, honest and valiant with our means of influencing.
5) Use Your Body Language Effectively:
I write about and teach my students about being congruent. That is that they must mean what they say firstly. Secondly, that their body language and their verbal language must match and must agree with each other, offering the same message. The most important things mentioned by Robin Dreeke are as follows:
– Offer up a genuine smile, a smile that promotes trust, and a smile that happens with the entire face (smile with the eyes and the mouth).
– Keep the chin down so you are not looking down your nose at people.
– Tilt the head a little bit if you can.
– Hold your body at a slight angle, and do not stand in full frontal, face-to-face, nose-to-nose stance.
– Keep your palms up and open at all times to show you are actively listening and are open to what is being said. You can elevate your eyebrows for similar effect and essentially anything you can elevate and open up is useful and comforting whereas pushing things down (i.e. frowning or compressing your lips) has the opposite effect.
Of all of those, smiling is the key. Many studies show smiling to be so useful is a wide variety of ways.
So these are some of the myriad factors that are influencing us as we develop (albeit slightly faux) relationships with our politicians, and that all therapists should be very aware of when building important relationships with clients that will help deliver results in therapy, and that everyone in any walk of life can employ to ethically get more people to like them.
I’m back in the classroom this weekend teaching my Hypnotherapy practitioner Diploma course, I’ll be back here on the Hypnosis Blog next week.