How to achieve your wildest dreams – A 4 Part GOAL SETTING Exercise

This exercise requires a little focus and a little dreaming.  Schedule some time now where you can be alone, in an inspiring environment, with your favourite pen and note pad and set yourself up for a fabulous 2018



  • Part 1, go back to 2008 to see how far you have come.
  • Part 2, envision 2028 and how far you can go.
  • Part 3, define WHAT you want as an outcome at the end of 2018, and WHY.
  • Part 4, plan HOW to get there, and how to arrive on 31 December 2018!



Around the turn of the year, it’s always good to look back.

And this is an interesting quote:

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Tony Robbins

So do you remember 2008?

That‘s 10 years ago…

(And yes I know, it sounds like 3 years ago, but that’s another story…)

So back to 2008:

  • Where did you live?
  • What did you do?
  • Where did you work?
  • What skills and knowledge did you have?
  • How effective were you as an employee?
  • What were your hopes and dreams?

Take a moment to reflect and makes some notes if you like……


So, a lot can happen in a decade!

If someone had asked you in 2008 – “Where will you be in 10 years?”

What would you have told them?

Are you today where you wanted to be back then?

  • What did you learn in 10 years?
  • What did you enjoy?
  • What did you achieve?
  • What did you give to the world?
  • Who did you become?

Feel grateful for all you have received and gathered in your life the past 10 years: all the knowledge, skills, experiences, wisdom, life lessons, good feelings, and happy moments!

And take pride in how far you have come, and about the value you created, the quality of lives you already enhanced, and in who you became!

Plus, have faith in how far you can go the next decade!

Goal setting


      PART 2: LETS FOCUS ON 2028

So now, let’s go forward to 2028…

10 years from now you will arrive…

And the question is:

  • Where will you be?
  • How will you live?
  • What gifts and talents have you shared with the world?
  • What will you have become?
  • What will you contribute?
  • What will you be, do, or have what you always wished for?

Take a moment to dream and make some notes…….

Now is the time to design the next 10 years of your life.

So as 2018 starts, ask yourself:

How am I going to live the next 10 years of my life?

What can I do:

  • to discover my life purpose?
  • to work on my life purpose?
  • to expand my knowledge?
  • to improve my skills?
  • to gain experience?
  • to fulfill my life’s work?
  • to leave a legacy?
  • to make a difference?
  • to be able to help others?
  • to enjoy life even more?

What actions can I take today, tomorrow, and the days after to get where I want to be in 10 years?

Let that mull over in the back of your mind whilst you go refill your mug of coffee or tea.


Part 3:  Let’s focus on 2018!

Now it’s the time to design your year.

What do you want in 2018?

Decide what you want for a final outcome. And what do you need to change to not be in the way of yourself?

  • What habits hold you back?
  • How are you going to break the pattern?
  • How are you going to live today to create the tomorrow you’re committed to?

Ask yourself some year-end questions:

  • What ‘good habits’ did I practice in 2017?
  • What ‘bad habit’ was still present in my life?

If I don’t change this ‘bad habit’ in 2018, what’s my short-term ‘pleasure’?

If I don’t change it, what will it cost me in the long run?

If I never change, what’s the ultimate price I will have to pay in 10 years?

What actions can I take in the New Year to turn things around?

What are my goals for 2018, so I can get closer to my Decade Dream?

Hmmm…. something to think about….



This is the critical piece. We know that not everyone will make 2018 the success they want it to be.  Its easy to work on parts 1,2 and 3 – those are the reflecting and dreaming states.  Part 4 is where the magic happens, but it is hard and not everyone will do it.


Because it’s time-consuming.

It’s thought-demanding work.

And yet,  many people who work hard day in and day out – at jobs they don’t necessarily like – when asked to take time to design their own futures to break that cycle,  they often reply:

“I don’t have time!”

They let their future slide.

Most people don’t make definite plans…

They HOPE things will get better for them in 2018.

They start the new year with their fingers crossed for 2018.

They go around with a worried look on their face.


Writing your goals down shows that you’re committed to growth, that you’re serious.

And to do better, you’ve got to get serious.

So don’t be afraid to set a goal and get moving.

The journey will take you far beyond your wildest dreams.

Because goals are powerful.

They DRAW you to changes…

To growth…

To new and creative ideas…

To untapped potential and talents that you never knew existed…

You’ll be able to handle things you never thought you could handle…

You’ll be able to accomplish things that seemed impossible to achieve…

Give yourself the chance to become all you can become in 2018!

To accomplish all you can accomplish in 2018!

Don’t underestimate the power of the last decade. What did you feel i Part 1 of this exercise, as you reflect on how far you’ve come since 2008.

Gather up this past decade…

All the knowledge you gained…

The skills…The wisdom…The experiences…And life lessons…

And invest them in 2018!


Start something new, change things for the better, renew yourself in body, mind, heart and soul!

Plan a 2018 worth getting excited about.

Create a strong magnet to pull you forward!

You see, that’s the main reason for setting goals: It’s to encourage you to become the person it takes to achieve them.

So decide:

“This is what I want, and I am willing to become the kind of person that it will take!”.

Because if you’re willing to learn, read, study, and grow, and to become what you must become, then you will attract what you want.



To do so you need:

1. Your goals as defined in part #3.
2. A set of actions that will lead to the final outcomes.
3. Dates and times to take those actions.

Now to achieve your goals, you have 365 days, where you can take massive action, by taking one step at a time.

And to not get overwhelmed with the big end goals, you can define sub-goals for each QUARTER of the year…

And for each MONTH…

And finally, know what you want to achieve this WEEK…

And that leads to what needs to be done TODAY!

Now to help you chunk it, let’s use two things:

A DUMP-TO DO-DOING-DONE board for a complete overview of the set of actions.

Your daily journal to schedule the actions on a certain date and time.

WHY and HOW to use the DUMP-TO DO-DOING-DONE board:

The board is used to get you to actualise your ultimate goals.

And this is how it works:

  1. Put all actions that will lead to your outcome on little sticky notes, and ‘dump’ them in the DUMP area.
  2. Put the actions you will do in January or in Q1 in the TO DO area.
  3. When you really start doing a certain action, move it in the DOING area.

    goal setting

  4. And when you did it, you move the sticky note to the DONE area.

So during the year, all stickies will move from the DUMP area, into the TO DO area, then the DOING area and finally they end up in the DONE area.

This way, you always have an overview of what still needs to be done to reach your final outcomes!

With the board, you will use your daily journal to schedule the actions that are waiting in the TO DO area, so you know when you will be doing them on a specific date and time.

So the combo board + journal will keep you on track along the year.

And because of the board, you don’t end up with never-ending to-do lists which have no connection to whatever your bigger picture is.

With the board, you know that all the actions you do are connected to your ultimate vision for 2018 (part 3), and your Decade Dream (part 2)!

How cool is that!

How Driver and Vehicle Services at the Department of Transport changed customer perceptions and improved employee engagement

Curious about what it is like to work with Alive & Kicking Solutions?

Steve Mitchinson is A/ General Manager, Driver and Vehicle Services at the Department of Transport (let’s save keystrokes and refer to them as DVS).  DVS is responsible for the effective management of over 1.8 million registered drivers and over 3.5 million registered vehicles and manages revenue collection and disbursement of over $2 billion on behalf of government.

In the beginning…

Steve connected with us because he wanted DVS to be the ‘shining light of public sector service delivery which would change customer perceptions and improve employee engagement’.

When Steve took on the role in November 2015, he told us he uncovered an organisation with a lack of visibility to meaningful measures of performance and outcomes, with an under performing workforce created by a lack of understanding and support for the front-line challenges.

Steve invited AKS to support him and his team in implementing a program of Operational Excellence based on their adoption of the Shingo Model.  This program was to run across an organisation of 600 staff, 10 sites and 300 service partners, and a $150m a year operating budget.   

After spending some time with Steve and his key leadership team understanding their objectives, challenges and the environment, we designed and delivered a one-day program entitled ‘Moving to Excellence’ with the aim of improving Customer Service by focusing on Emotional Intelligence Skills.

This workshop was piloted with the frontline customer service team in the Karratha Vehicle Licensing Centre.   The Regional Director of the Pilbara fed back that:

“The facilitator was exceptionally engaging and had even the most recalcitrant of team members participating.  The focus was on how positive interaction with colleagues and customers results in great customer service and also creates individual job satisfaction and personal fulfilment.  The facilitator also spent some time on how to provide feedback in a productive manner. I have received feedback from a driving assessor who has found these tips immediately useful.

 I recommend booking AKS if you have identified any common themes within your team in relation to ‘attributes’ or behaviours that could improve customer service; customers being each other as well as external customers.”

The positive feedback kicked of the project in earnest and we rolled out a series of workshops for approximately 35 people in each licensing centre across 9 metro centres. Customer focus

Session one: Focus on Values and Behaviours part 1 – half day

This session started out with an introduction from Steve who travelled to each location with the Manager of Business Centres Gregg Whitehall and spent the ½ day in the session with the teams.  This was particularly valuable because he was hearing directly from frontline team members.  

The AKS facilitator then led a discussion relating to philosopher Martin Buber’s work on how we experience the world around us. Buber was concerned with people’s sense of self and the choices we make.  The conversation then moved to a discussion about where their sense of control exists – “above or below the line”. 

We then morphed into a discussion about Values and set to work on unpacking the behaviours that went along with those values.   The end outcome was for the staff to create something like a “Code of Conduct” or “Rules of the Game” and ideas on how to implement them.  

Session Two: Focus on Values and Behaviours part 2 – half day

We began by asking participants what they had done with the work that that had been created in the previous session.  Many had taken no action (!).  This was an opportune time to apply some gentle pressure to remind them that conversations alone are not enough.  Actions must be taken to create change. 

The facilitator helped participants workshop what actions could be taken to implement the previous work.   Some centres did this very easily – others had more resistance and some objections that we worked through.  Again, the DVS leadership team were here for the discussions and worked brilliantly to help move the teams through the paces.  

We then introduced participants to a concept regarding internal states of mind toward others (customers, co-workers and whole organisations).  This concept was all about choosing a productive and appropriate mindset to get them out of the angst toward others.

After a fun presentation, participants were asked to consider who they were in the box with.  Co-workers? Customers? Management? Great discussion ensued and there was a prevalent topic that came up regarding customers and that is they didn’t feel they had a great way to handle challenging customers. 

Session Three: Handling Difficult Customers Session – 1-Day

The session started with a discussion to elicit ways that customers show up as challenging or difficult.  We then workshopped the neuro-physical impact of Positive and Negative language and discussed concepts like how powerful language is; the need to be aware of the language we use; how often our words are chosen by our habits and how it is often easier to come up with negative words than positive.  We introduce ways to handle conflict and participants undertook a listening game to examine how we listen and what distracts us.

Turning Point

Employee engagement This session contained the defining items that made the difference in people being more capable of handling challenge in their environment. As a result of this session the culture was truly changing, and people were becoming far more resilient and confident, particularly in their interactions with customers.  

DVS has reported that the rapid decline in customer aggression incidents has been remarkable as staff now have the skills to deal more effectively with incidents of aggression as they arise. This has had a dramatic impact on engagement. Senior Management have recently commented that they had never seen the levels of energy across the network so high and all leaders have remarked on the transformation in their teams.

Session Four:  E-Concierge Communication Program – half day

This session gave practical skills in how to handle face to face greetings and “crowd management” issues to support the staff with the physical changes that were taking place at the licensing centres. This included introducing a new queueing system – the E-Concierge and introduction of some “self-serve” channels for customers.   This new model was to incorporate the use of iPads and moving a person (or people) to the front of the building to act as concierge – and direct people to systems and self-serve when and where appropriate.  The objective of the session was to help people get comfortable with the new way of being. 

This session was piloted with the team in Midland. They moved buildings and staff had been instrumental in completely reworking how the inside of the building was to look, feel and operate.  Our facilitator attended an iPad training session to get a feel for how it would all work and then created the content for a ½ Day session.

Leadership Development

Alongside the work with the frontline teams, we recommended and delivered a one-day session entitled Handling Difficult Leadership Conversations.  This workshop aimed to connect leaders to the importance of properly constructed and implemented operational and behavioural standards, provide leaders with a framework for having challenging performance conversations, give leaders tools and techniques for handling all forms of performance interactions. 

Word of mouth  

By this time, the word about our 1-Day course Handling Challenging Customers was beginning to spread to other departments.  The infringements department sent one person along to one of the 1-Day workshops to get a feel for the course.  They sent back rave reviews, and this was then implemented across that entire department with the focus was on call handling instead of Face to Face interactions

What do the participants feel?

Steve told us that he has been overwhelmed with the feedback and gratitude shown by the staff.   This course was so well received, that the participants demanded Steve provide a feedback form, so they could share with AKS how great they felt.

What did the participants say?

‘The content was amazing.  I could relate to so much that was being said’. 

“I could happily have done a week of this training!”

“Possibly the best facilitator I have ever had….and I have done a substantial number of courses!”

And what did Steve have to say about his experience in working with Alive & Kicking Solutions?

He shared:

“Working with Alive & Kicking has changed our workforce behaviour significantly and this had delivered substantial benefits for our staff and customers alike.

I would recommend Alive & Kicking to anyone looking to improve employee engagement and customer service levels.

There can be no better quote than ‘Thanks for allowing us to do the training Steve, the AKS training has changed my life forever – Claire*”

The bottom line

  • Unplanned leave is down dramatically
  • 90% of customers report being very satisfied with overall experience
  • Wait times have halved
  • Complaints have reduced by 75%
  • Reported aggression incidents are down 75%
  • The security guard contract ceased in May 2017 as staff were now confident they could effectively deal with all situations





Closing a conversation graciously

Closing a conversation graciously is just as important as opening it well.

This is your last opportunity to make sure everything has been covered and the person you are speaking with has no further questions or issues that need to be addressed.

It’s best to leave the other person in an emotional space that is as positive as possible, as it would be counter-productive for them to walk away from the conversation feeling as if they have not been fully heard and validated.

If either of you leave the communication feeling negative, unimportant or undervalued, it’s likely neither will not keep their end of the bargain.

Thank the other person for taking the time to speak with you and ask them if they have any questions about the discussion, or if there’s anything else you can help them with.

At the end of the communication, perhaps you have reached an impasse and things are a bit uncomfortable for you both. Maybe the other person hasn’t got their own way or they are not happy with the solution you have set forward.

For example, you may have reached a decision that Mary really needs to get over her personal objections to the price of the Oompaloompa range, and to just get on with the job of selling them. You have made it clear what you expect and Mary understands that selling this product is art of her role, and that she has a sales target to reach.

In order to prevent Mary from continuing to complain about the price of the product range as her excuse for not meeting sales targets, you could bring the conversation to a close like this:

Mary, knowing that you still have to sell the Oompaloompa range to meet your sales targets and pass your performance review, is there anything else I can cover today for you that will help you to be successful?

This lets Mary know that although a firm line has been drawn with regards to her performance in a specific area, you are still there for her and willing to help with any other issues she may have.

Make sure you close the conversation by acknowledging the person’s contributions and thanking them for their time.

Mary, thank you so much for spending some time with me this afternoon. I appreciate your honesty and have learned a lot from our chat this afternoon.

Rapport is still important right up until the very end of a communication. If the person leaves feeling negative rapport, it will make the next conversation you have with them that much harder.

So over the last few weeks we have shared our communication model that con

Case study

tains four logical steps with each step occurring in order for the communication to run smoothly:

Step 1: Rapport

Step 2: Discovery

Step 3: Solution

Step 4: Close

This model encompasses a philosophy for communication, combined with tools and techniques, that when followed, provides a solid framework for communication and offers a consistent path to follow that will produce an outstanding quality of communication.


WIFM….…or What’s In It For Me?

The communication model we use contains four logical steps.  Each step must occur in order for the communication to run smoothly:

Step 1: Rapport

Step 2: Discovery

Step 3: Solution

Step 4: Close

This model encompasses a philosophy for communication, combined with tools and techniques, that when followed, provides a solid framework for communication and offers a consistent path to follow that will produce outstanding quality of communication.

 This blog focuses on Step 3: Solution

WIFM….…or What’s In It For Me?

Solution is the part of the communication where you discuss what has been decided as the appropriate course of action in terms of WIFM.

 Communication framework

Generally you can get anybody to do anything if you can do a good enough job of convincing them of WIFM.


Solution is all about discussing the outcome in a way that helps the other person to see the benefit to them personally of keeping the commitment or performing the agreed action.


Sometimes it may seem to you that you are just stating the obvious. Remember that you may be dealing with people who don’t see the obvious the way you do. Unless you clearly state the obvious, the person you are dealing with might not even realise that there’s something in it for them.


For example-

Brad, do you enjoy being counseled in my office and having file notes completed about you when you swear in front of customers, knowing that this behaviour could lead to termination?

(Note the use of a closed question)

Brad: No.


Good, I’m glad to hear it. If you choose to use professional language in this environment, you will never have to have this conversation with me again. Does that sound good to you?

Brad: Yes


Have a look at the two examples below and see which one you would respond best to.


Example 1

Karen, I need you to work for three extra hours on Tuesday because Linda has an appointment. I will trade it for some time off later on when we can spare you.


Example 2

Karen, if you work three extra hours for me on Tuesday to cover Linda’s absence, I would like to offer for you to leave three hours earlier on Friday so you can spend some time riding your horse. Would this be something you would like to consider?

Communication framework
While you may have thought both examples could have achieve the same result, the second one is more likely to motivate Karen to say yes right away as it is specific and related to something she loves to do in her spare time.


In summary:

– Solution is a discussion about the choice the
   customer has already made during the Discovery
– Solution is about adding value to the customer
– Personalisation of the communication, in tasks,
   processes, procedures and products
– Solution statements often discuss actions to be taken
   by the customer and/or the organisation
– Confirmation of all details
– Use of personalised benefits
– Connection of action to benefit statements
– Use of names
– Use of “For You” language
– Use of agreement questions – to clarify actions taken
  and solutions given


To discover or not to discover? That is the question….!

Discovery:  to find out or to realise something that was not known before.

Discovery involves emptying your head of all preconceived ideas, assumptions and presumptions about the other person and the situation and digging beyond the surface to find out what’s real about the situation.


People are meaning making machines. If it is working well, your brain will take a few clues from the environment and create a story based on you past experiences about what’s real about any given situation.


If your brain works like this, congratulations, it’s doing a great job for you. The danger of this kind of cognitive activity is that it could sometimes prevent you from taking the time to fully explore a situation before you make up your mind about the reason why this situation occurred in the first place.


If the facts are not uncovered and verified, there is a high chance the solution will not be based on what is true for both parties and therefore will be inappropriate for the circumstance. At worst, a poorly constructed solution can leave one or both parties emotionally damaged and can permanently destroy any chance of building up a positive long-term relationship.


Maybe you have a habit of asking only closed questions, those which require only a yes or no answer. While closed questions have their place and can be useful communication tools, they inhibit the free flow of information. Information is vital to for you to gain a total understanding of a situation before you make up your mind about what to do about it.


Closed questions also support the habits of making assumptions and leaping to conclusions. People tend to only ask the questions that they know will get the answers which support assumptions. Once a few shreds of information to support existing perceptions are in place, the mind closes to other possibilities.


Even if other possibilities are clearly spoken you may not hear and comprehend them, because you may have already made up your mind that what you thought in the first place is correct. How many misunderstandings and arguments could be totally avoided if you waited to hear all the facts before you made up your mind? 



The quandary here is that if you launch into a plethora of open questions, questions which require explanations rather than a yes or no, the other person may begin to feel as though you are interrogating them.


The key is to gain permission to ask these questions before you start, and explain why these questions will be asked.


For example:


Bob, at first glance the complaint made by Mrs Barnes seems quite serious. I really want to hear your thoughts about why this happened so I can make the right decision about what to do about it. Would it be OK with you if I asked you some questions to help me understand what’s happened here?


– Bob will probably say yes go ahead, because you have not put any direct accusations on him, nor blamed him for anything. All you are doing is asking his permission to ask questions, and there is very little chance that Bob will react defensively.


Mary, I am about to begin your Performance Review. Before I look at the sales reports, I would like to have a chat with you about how you’re travelling in your role. Would it be all right if I hear your thoughts from you first?



– Everyone is nervous about performance reviews. This approach of asking for Mary to share her thoughts BEFORE the review is done is more likely to have Mary on side, rather than defensive.


Jenny, I have been told you have been leaving early to play golf and not completing your share of the paperwork when I’m not here. Before I go any further, I’d like to hear you side of the story first. Can I ask you a few questions about this?



– Jenny may be the victim of malicious office gossip. She may not be leaving early at all. While you are pretty sure that Jenny is skiving off, it is an assumption and you have no proof. Can you be certain that this leaving early does not have some other explanation? Could it be that Jenny has a very good and reasonable explanation? This approach gives her the chance to give a report rather than having to defend herself if she is faced with an outright accusation.


John, this may seem like a simple error that can easily be corrected, but this is not the best use of your time. So we can work out a way to use your time effectively in future, I’d like to review the process of your job so you spend your time doing things that are productive. Can I ask a few questions about the current process you follow?


– This approach puts you in a position of being alongside John, not standing over him with a stick saying he is bad. It allows John to be a part of the solution not the one who is to blame. John is more likely to co-operate with you than he is to get defensive.


The next step is to ask a question designed to get the other person talking and giving you lots of information.


Open questions start with:


•        why

•        what

•        how



Closed questions start with:


•        who

•        when

•        where



As an example of how closed questions work, read this list below.


When did this happen? …………………. Yesterday


When did you notice the error?…………Yesterday


When did you ask Sally to ring Mrs Banfield?………………Yesterday


Where did the incident take place?……………….on the front counter


Where was John when this happened?………………………..At lunch


Get the picture?…………………………………..Yes


There is another very useful communication tool known as a Directive which helps to get information which may allow you to see the bigger picture before you make a decision about what needs to happen.


A Directive is a command that invites the person to speak at length and give you further information about a topic than they ordinarily would.


Some examples of Directives are:


Tell me about your situation regarding ……


Tell me your thoughts on………………………


Tell me what you think about…………..


Tell me how you feel about…………..


Tell me why you think that…………


Tell me how you……………………


Tell me the story behind………


Talk to me about the reasons why………..


Explain to me what you think about…………….


Describe exactly what happened as you saw it………..


Using a Directive will give the impression you are strong and confident, and also allows you to appear to be concerned and interested. Directive can also has the advantage of buying you some time to think. It is difficult for a person to give a closed response to a Directive.


If the answer to your Directive is “No” it gives you a clear indication that the person you are speaking to is being uncommunicative and unresponsive.


If you are served with a No, follow it up with another directive.


Jenny, your response of No tells me you are feeling uncommunicative. If I am right, this will make reaching a solution we are both happy with very difficult. Tell me what’s going on for you right now.


A word of caution here. The first sentence of this example, if said on it’s own, could sound presumptuous and arrogant. It may damage rapport.


Jenny, your response tells me you are feeling uncommunicative.


If you use this type of communication technique to identify a perceived emotion in another person, it is important to follow it up with the second piece, which is “If I’m right…”


This second part of the communication will build rapport as you have acknowledged that you may have misinterpreted the situation. It also gracefully lets the other person off the hook if they are feeling embarrassed by their earlier poor communication behaviour of bluntly replying with No. They may want to now be more co-operative.


We have briefly mentioned closed questions earlier on. Closed questions are great for clarifying facts and seeking commitment to action.


Closed questions can be very effective when you are clarifying what someone has told you, re-capping on any agreements or deciding to proceed with some type of action.


Bob, what will need to happen now is for you to get the paperwork for Mrs Barnes’ investment and bring it to me so I can see exactly what arrangements have been made. Can you have it to be by 4.00pm?


– Bob can easily state Yes or No as to whether he can manage 4pm.


John, the next time you have to complete this process, I’d like an agreement for you to come and see me so I can watch how you are doing it. That way if I need to arrange for some further training I know exactly what to ask for. Does that sound OK to you?


– If John says Yes, then you have his permission and agreement to come fetch you. If he says No then you may need to ask some more questions.


Jenny, from what you’ve told me, you feel it’s more important to meet with clients on the golf course because it’s a more relaxed environment. I can see your point. Part of your role with us is also to ensure that you are doing your share of the paperwork. When your team members believe this is not happening they may get resentful as it means more work for them. Does what I’m saying make sense to you?


– Here you are affirming Jenny’s commitment to the rapport she is building with her clients, and you are also able to point out the rapport she needs to build with her other team members.


Mary, have I got it right when I say that you think the reason for not achieving your sales target is that it’s hard to sell the OompaLoompa range because of its higher price tag?


– This lets Mary know that you have understood her reasons for the low sales results and you are not putting the blame on her.


Closed questions are best used at the end of a communication to make sure everything has been understood and all parties are clear on what’s going to happen next and who is responsible for it.


Without clarity about what is real, it will be hard to ask the next question, which could be


So how are we going to resolve this issue in a way that everyone’s happy?


Once you have all the facts to hand, you can discuss alternative outcomes and possible solutions until you come up with one that you feel is suitable.





The what, why and how of rapport

Effective communication has four logical steps, and each step must occur in order for the communication to run smoothly. Here is the list of steps in order of where they usually occur in most conversations. This does not mean the conversation has to be stepped through in this order, or that you cannot revisit each step if it’s appropriate.

Rapport diagram

Step 1: Rapport

Step 2: Discovery

Step 3: Solution

Step 4: Close


Step 1: Rapport

The word rapport is French in origin and is defined in the Heinemann Australian Dictionary as a feeling of understanding or sympathy.

Some other definitions include but are not limited to-

•         A relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people

•         Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of unconscious human interaction. It involves a shared perspective, being in “sync”, being on the same wavelength as the person you are talking to

•         That conscious feeling of harmonious accord, mutual responsiveness, and sympathy that contributes to the individual’s confidence in the communicator and willingness to work cooperatively with him or her.

•        The presence of harmony, trust and cooperation in relationship.

In short, rapport is a feeling of mutual trust and confidence between two parties.

If you wish to build positive rapport with the person you will be speaking, simple gestures are often enough. For example:

•        offer them a cup of coffee or get them a glass of water

•        ask if they are comfortable with the room temperature

•        ask if the other person is satisfied with the location you have chosen for this discussion

•        smile – and be genuine

•        clear your desk of all distracting paperwork or items

•        sit facing them and look interested in them

•        have reception hold all your phone calls while you are in the meeting

•        be prompt and ready at the set time and place

These are all small activities that will help to build rapport and trust and put the person at ease as it demonstrates your willingness to make them feel comfortable while you are with them.

If you are a direct or straight to the point communicator, it’s possible you may not be comfortable with these steps to build rapport, or you may not see the value in it. Some people see perceive these small talk niceties as a waste of valuable time and prefer to get straight to the point.

If this is your style, be aware that others may be intimidated by this approach, and the more relationship-focused communicators may find this way of beginning a conversation rude or arrogant. Such a beginning may immediately put the other person off side and could damage both long and short term rapport.

If you are interested in being an effective communicator it will be to your advantage to make some attempts to find out what sort of person you will be dealing with and set the scene accordingly, in order to make them comfortable.

If the aim of the communication is to develop long-term solutions to enhance and build the business or relationship, you will need the other person’s co-operation and buy in.


Build rapport

If small talk skills are not something you are good at, take the time to practise rapport building. Even though it feels uncomfortable to start off with, it is a necessary step to take before you can safely discuss the issue at hand.

As a successful communicator, it’s up to you to set the stage and build the relationship with the other person to a point where they have confidence in you and what you are saying.

If rapport is overlooked in the initial stage of building a relationship, it is hard to win it back. Start as you mean to continue and make a good first impression.

Be authentic

Be aware, if you have not built a successful feeling of trust and confidence in the person you are communicating with, it will be difficult to achieve their engagement in any solutions that might arise as the end result of the communication.

Practise building rapport, notice how it impacts you communication and remember to keep in natural and authentic!