My eyes were closed and my head was tilted towards the sun as I sat basking in the midday sun, soaking up the rays. I could hear the gentle lapping of the water against the boat and the faint sound of my new friend and dive companion asking me if I wanted any tea. I was on an adventure, another bucket list quest and I felt like I had found heaven on earth. Right there and then, for a couple of moments, I was the happiest man alive, I had everything I could have wished for, peace, prosperity, freedom, sunshine and tea! Little did I know it was about to get even better!
My job was to task the best place for scuba diving with wild dolphins. I had spent months doing the research and looked at the Caribbean, Western Australia, Israel, South Africa, America and many other unique spots around the world. My research taught me that there were few places left that were still remote, relatively tourist free, and where wild actually meant ‘wild encounters’ and not ‘lured in with fresh fish encounters’. So I had chosen the dusty remote lands between Egypt and Sudan in the magnificent and vibrant Red Sea. I had heard many a tale and cause for excitement from the available reports of these lands and reefs, and up until now it had all been academic. I was on a search to find a unique place that would fulfil the dreams of hundreds to come, a place that would connect us with one of the most graceful animals known to man. They have been called our friends, healers, spiritual beings, wise, intelligent, and not to mention food in some cultures. Like many I was convinced that if only we were able to communicate with them, dolphins would have a lot to teach us, and we would finally understand what was behind that cheeky smile.
There are few that dedicate their lives to being able to communicate with dolphins, and building enough rapport that they believe they can hear their thoughts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this time, or should I say, didn’t want to dedicate this much time to this cause, but I was as open as I could be to learn and connect with one of my favourite animals, if I was given the opportunity.
Tea…yes… that sounded good. ‘Allow me’, I said. As I turned to get the tea cups I saw some fins popping up beside the boat. I stood speechless, wanting to shout and scream to the world about what I had just saw but was unable to do anything apart from open my bottom jaw. I looked at the other crew on the boat and before you could tie your shoe laces, we were overboard. I was in the water half dressed but with a mask on my face and regulator in my mouth. I could see the dolphins playing, swimming up and down almost wanting us to come an join them. I zipped up my suit and put on the rest of my diving equipment at about 1 metre depth and by the time I had sunk to 3 metres I was all dressed, ready to go and play. For a while I swam after them, following them to the entrance of coral caves, and laughing as they turned up behind me wondering why I was still looking for them in the entrance. For the best part of 20 minutes they humoured us, coming back when we thought they had gone, and racing around us as if they were shepherd dogs herding their new found sheep. And then it happened, as it would, if good friends were saying goodbye. The pod had obviously got bored and decided to swim off into the distance, but 2 remained. The 2 came closer, so close we could see eye to eye. I felt my state go from pure bliss to curiosity and a state of shock. Just at this moment they dropped eye contact and started to circle around me. They swam through my legs, and spun me around as I turned trying to keep up. Then all of a sudden they stopped in mid water, stood on their flippers, looked at each other, looked back at me, gave 2 nods of their heads, and as I started to smile in awe, knowing they were saying goodbye, they turned and shot off into the distance.
The greater our willingness to give the greater our rapport
Rapport is a hugely important skill ever performer needs to master. The likelihood is that you may already be in control of your rapport and are fine tuning your awareness of how to use it to your best advantage. For those that don’t yet understand rapport, it is the ability and process to build trust and communication through unconscious processes. Ample information and support is readily available online to help you building rapport form matching body postures like the way we stand or cross our arms to matching the tonality, pitch and language of our dialogue to build trust and communication with another. We do this naturally in our day to day communication and successful sales people, negotiators and manipulators have learnt consciously or subconsciously how to be very talented in building rapport in order to get people to do what they want to do. Once rapport is built people can lead and suggest alternative body language and predicates to alter the other persons thoughts or behaviours.
The above story shows how the dolphin managed to build rapport with myself so it could help me to understand it’s communication. When I was in my own head, listening to my thoughts and not ‘spun off my feet’, I was closed to their communication. After they spun me around and I was in a state of awe completely open to them, I could get a glimpse of what they wanted to say. We can use rapport in many ways in our performance, but undoubtedly for me the most important type of rapport for performers is the rapport we have with ourself.
Simple examples of this include change our state, feelings and thoughts, during a performance troff, through altering our own body language. By simply lifting our shoulders and lifting our head to the sky we can easily change our negative thinking into positive thinking. If we are tired, exhausted or even injured but don’t want to give our competitor the upper hand of this knowledge, we can change our speech, body posture and lots more so they believe we are full of energy. Being in rapport with ourselves and understanding how our body language and self dialogue effect our states, beliefs and actions are key to being in flow and creating clear channel for flow to exist. Flow could easily be seen as the ultimate rapport we can have wit ourselves as our mind stands aside in complete trust that the body and subconscious will deliver.
At least 5 times a day for 4 days, stop and ask yourself, am I in rapport with myself? Do I really know what I am feeling? Can I change my body language, self talk or dialogue to be more aligned to what I want to achieve or be?
Pick out one answer from the above questions and integrate it into your being there and then. At the end of the day write down what 5 things you worked on
Record your performance. On play back ask yourself what 5 things could I have done to improve my rapport with myself to have allowed flow to have been more apparent.