Pacing and matching are important to modeling and rapport-building. This pattern helps you pace their model of the world. This is a profound form of pacing. When you practice this pattern, you will sharpen your awareness of people’s subconscious communications. When you pace a person’s model of the world, you can better understand their perspective and build rapport. The other person’s sense or intuition that you understand them and can relate to them improves rapport unconsciously.
Pacing involves matching elements of another person’s body language and speech in order to improve rapport and your own understanding of the person. Pacing is not mirroring, because you are not simply imitating the person. Rather, you are integrating various elements of their style into your own.
For example, if you use the person’s vocabulary grade level, the person will feel more at ease with you. But if you fake their accent, you will offend them. Pacing could be compared with method acting, in which the actor enters another person’s reality, by finding it within. This takes pacing to a higher level, in which you are able to embrace the other person’s frame of reference.
Bandier and Grinder have found that you can enhance pacing by matching predicates, that is, the person’s primary rep system references. If they “see” your point, you could pace their visual predicates by talking about how they “view” things.
Practice pacing with people as you go about your day. Try it anywhere and everywhere. Start by erring toward being too subtle, and work your way into more complete pacing. That way, you won’t offend anyone. If you are in an anonymous situation, where it doesn’t matter if you appear eccentric, try more extreme pacing and see what it takes for people to actually give you a funny look.
You may be surprised at how fully you can pace without a problem.
Instead of following steps, you can practice this pattern by improvising from these instructions. Dr. Milton H. Erickson tells about a child patient of his that was autistic. As quoted in Phoenix: Therapeutic Patterns Of Milton H Erickson, by David Gordon, Dr. Erickson said:
“And she brought the girl in, and introduced the girl to me and me to the girl. And the girl made a number of weird sounds and so I REPLIED with weird sounds, and we grunted and groaned and squeaked and squawked for about half an hour. And then the girl answered a few simple questions and very promptly returned
to her autistic behavior. And we really had a good time squeaking and squawking and grunting and groaning at each other. And then she took the patient back to the hospital. In the night time she took the patient for a walk. She told me later, “that girl almost pulled my arm off, yanking me down the street, she wanted to see you … the one man who could really talk her language.”
Credits for the creation of this NLP pattern belong to John Grinder and Richard Bandier.