giving it out and bringing it back


We all get on with some people more than others. Sometimes we just click immediately. Sometimes the connection develops over a period of time. But what is rapport?

But when we have a rapportful relationship we know it. We are drawn to it.  We enjoy experiencing it.

Its origins as a word seem to be French – rapporter – to bring back, or return, and a definition might be…

a state of harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well

So maybe rapport is simply about giving and receiving? Giving some of ourselves; our ideas, thoughts, emotions and being open to others’ ideas thoughts and emotions in return. Where these connect or overlap, we have rapport.

Sounds easy.

Of course we have to know enough about ourselves, and be open-hearted and generous enough, to be able to authentically share what our feelings, thoughts and ideas are . And we have to be present enough and care enough to hear what is reciprocated.

Maybe that’s why it isn’t always so easy?


reading between the lines


I followed a van the other day.

Its brightly decorated paintwork advertised service, repair and maintenance. I gazed absent mindedly at the contact details. A number and a website.

A Quaking.

Service and repair after an earthquake? Wow, that’s a niche market.

I looked again… and moved the space. Aquaking. “Aqua King” not “A Quaking”.

Misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Sometimes the signs are hard to read. As they can be in life. Our own signs in particular. Learning to read yourself is perhaps the best skill you can acquire. Understand and interpret wisely, for misunderstanding and misinterpreting your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours could cause significant tremors.


buildings wear hats now


There are many new buildings being erected nearby.  It’s interesting to see the construction and in particular one common feature I have noticed. They all have an ‘add on’ on the roof, to house, I presume, the heating and ventilation equipment.

I guess many years ago, such ‘hats’ on our buildings weren’t required?

It’s possible to see the pipe work and cabling in the guts of the building, criss crossing the currently naked ceilings. An infrastructure to support the future comforts, efficiency and effectiveness of the eventual inhabitants. Of course once they take up their positions, this wiring and plumbing will remain invisible and only the fruits of its work will be in evidence to the people interacting and achieving inside this house of work.

Many of the things which enable us to work as individual human beings are equally set up thus.

Much, created as we were being built. Now invisible. Sometimes keeping us comfortable and enabling us to be at our best. Sometimes having the reverse effect, limiting us and making us in some way uncomfortable.

We don’t have the luxury of simply removing the ceiling tiles and being able to maintain or improve this infrastructure. Well, not easily. In truth much remains hidden to us.

Maybe time to check under your hat?


the present lie about absenteeism

Most of us work through the day.  We sit in our office or car. We stand on the production line. We pore over our computer. We meet others and decide important things. To do this, we are expected to be present. To be wherever our work requires us to be.

But physical presence is a lie, a misnomer, if we think it signifies presence in our work. Occupation, activity, productivity, output, quality.

I can sit and stare at words on my screen and yet be somewhere completely different, in my head. I can be in a meeting and look to be taking active part, whilst emotionally being totally disconnected. I can even be driving my car and be on auto-pilot, because my attention is on some unrelated, yet important, mental distraction.

This is largely invisible to those around us. A secret we keep.

We all do it. We do it all the time.

Physically present. Mentally and emotionally elsewhere.

Why is it that the ponderings, thoughts, feelings, of another place, another time, another scenario, with other people, are more important to our bodies, than where our bodies are?

Wherever you are now.  Where are you?


get out of my shoes now



Empathy is the new black.

Schools are teaching empathy to children. Leaders are encouraged to display EQ as much as IQ. Many books explore building empathy. It’s a core coaching skill. Developmental psychiatrists and psychologists are exploring the roots of empathy in animals and the deep nature of its place in our humanity. True empathy is good. Deeply human.

To be clear empathy, as opposed to sympathy, could be described as feeling with someone, rather than feeling for someone. “I feel your anguish” as opposed to “I am sorry you’re hurting”.

It is standing in their shoes to experience their emotions.

But empathy requires thoughts as well as feelings. It is also a two person activity. So to be truly empathetic we need to balance thought and emotion as well as balance self and other. Recognising and sharing in someone else’s complex emotional state is in itself a complex inner experience, and it requires considerable self awareness and control to walk that line, be useful, be safe, keep them safe.

Otherwise empathy becomes a trap.

We can feel we are being held hostage by the other person’s feelings. Imprisoned in our own thought / feeling response. Balance requires us to have the self awareness and the dexterity and subtlety to pay attention to another’s needs whilst not sacrificing our own needs. We need to be able to recognise what is our stuff and what belongs to the person we are empathising with. Also what emerges in the soup of the empathetic interaction. What needs to stay in the soup, neither theirs nor ours.

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes is something the receiver can find deeply rewarding. Addictive even. That puts the onus on us to know when to extract ourselves from their shoes. And how.

Equally, overly empathic people may lose the ability to know what they want or need. They may have a diminished ability to make decisions in their own best interest, experience physical and psychological exhaustion from deflecting their own feelings.

We need to be able to stand in our own shoes too.


what if people could hear your thoughts?

Inside me
What if the world was inside out?

Mostly our world is three dimensional.
An outside. A visible shape. An unseen interior.

I watched a young tree the other day blowing in the wind. I could see the sinewy branches dancing to the wind’s tune, waving in a frenetic chorus of communication. I could hear the wind rustling its leaves in an excited chatter. I could observe the trunk bending; flexing to ensure its very survival.

Yet I can’t see inside the tree. The stresses at a cellular level. Damage that might emerge later in life, with a fallen branch or twisted growth. I can’t see the break and heal process as leaves are stolen away by the wind.

Human beings are like this too.

What if the world were inside out?

What if I didn’t see the face you presented; the smile that cloaked the pain? Didn’t hear the words you spoke; the “I’m fine” you mask yourself with? Didn’t notice your visible actions, gestures and behaviours that consciously communicate a message, to unconsciously hide what you really need to say?

If the world were inside out, I might hear your thoughts rather than the words you say, feel your emotions rather than hear your label for them, experience your doubt, marvel in your strength, be transfixed by your beauty, know your vulnerability?

What if I could hear, see and feel your inner truth?

How would it be different?
How would I be different?
How would you be different?

Coming to the world as yourself, as an authentic version of you, requires huge courage and vulnerability. It demands you show a little more of your inside on the outside.

Image of body art by: Pastel-AI