Do you take on the moods, energy, and emotions of other people?
Many highly sensitive people experience this. They absorb the moods of individuals and crowds, and take them on as if they are their own. It’s also true that sensitive types are good at building rapport with others. Which provides an interesting link to examine.
You might not be aware of how you use rapport. It can often go un-noticed and under-appreciated as a tool in the gentle rebel toolbox. In this episode I look at how we can become more self-aware and use rapport so that we are not left feeling completely thrown around by the energy, moods, and emotions of other people.
Rapport comes from Old French word, raporter. From the Latin: re – to bring back. And portare – to carry.
Rapport could be thought of as bridging the gap between two people. Carrying the relationship to a place of mutual ground and connecting in sync with one another.
We might experience a sense of cosmetic rapport with people who look similar to us. Feeling comfortable in the presence of someone who feels familiar in how they appear. Likewise, we might feel a lack of rapport with someone who looks different. But only when we truly engage with someone does rapport begin to build at a meaningful level.
The Mechanics of Rapport
Rapport is an important thing for highly sensitive people and introverts to think about. If we’re unaware of it, we can find ourselves carrying the moods and emotions of others without giving our consent.
When we are unaware of how rapport is being built in a situation, we are naturally more likely to follow and allow the other person or the vibe of the crowd, to pass on the mood and leave us feeling drained. This makes the prospect of social interaction feel overwhelming.
How Does Rapport Grow?
When we engage in deep listening, rapport builds. This kind of listening goes beyond the words. It hears tone, body language, and even what is not being said, as ways to connect with someone. Many Highly Sensitive People are naturally good at this, being highly perceptive, and intuitive.
You might find yourself knowing things about someone before they do. You pick up on subtleties that the other person is unaware of. They feel seen and understood. Like you care about what they have to say. HSPs and introverts speak less, which gives space for others to feel listened to.
With these factors at play, rapport builds and people are drawn to you because you make them feel valued. This can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing in what you are able to give to others. But a curse if you have no boundaries in place to protect yourself from being in the place of rapport. This can happen when you match and mirror others.
Matching and Mirroring
This is a concept from the world of Neuro-Liguistic Programming (NLP). It is exactly as it sounds – either doing exactly what the other person is doing, or reflecting back to them what they are doing like a mirror.
Matching would be to raise your right hand up to scratch your head when the other person does. Mirroring would be raising your left hand up so that it’s the same side.
Research shows that we do this when we are in rapport with someone. Maybe you’ve found yourself doing it without realising. Lifting your hand above your head or to your mouth, only to realise that the other person is doing the same. It’s kind of freaky sometimes! Especially when it’s all happening at an unconscious level.
This is where we might take on the energies and moods of other people. We might match and mirror them. Including their tone of voice, speed of language, and even the other person’s rate of breathing. This can lead us to a change of physiology, and thus a shift in emotion and energy. It is well documented that our physical demeanour has an impact on our state of emotional being.
When the other person is in a state of being you don’t want to be, it is possible to attempt leading them into a more positive state using matching and mirroring. You might be able to gradually change the body language, tone of voice, and style of language. If they stay there then it might be time to break rapport. Otherwise you might be the one being led by them.
In this episode we look at techniques we can experiment with, so that we can take control of our own moods, energies, and emotions without being led astray.
Over to You
Do you seem to absorb the emotions, energies, and moods of other people? How do you avoid it? I’d love to hear from you on this. Please leave your response in the comments below.