How Increasing Rapport With Yourself Powers Your Leadership

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Increasing Rapport With Yourself

Building rapport with yourself is not often mentioned as a skill important to leadership, but it should be at the top of the list.

Christine Comaford is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold five companies. She’s a columnist for Forbes, the bestselling author of SmartTribes and Rules for Renegades, and a leadership coach. Her latest book, Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times shows you how to bring a tribe together to tackle challenges.


Know Who You Are 

Why is it important to increase rapport with yourself?

Knowing who we are, what makes us tick, what triggers us is essential in order to lead effectively. To do this we must become more emotionally intelligent. There are two aspects of emotional intelligence: 1) Personal Competence: where we understand what we’re feeling and how to regulate/navigate our emotions and 2) Social Competence: where we discern what others may be feeling and how to navigate their feelings. Personal Competence is a precursor to Social Competence. The greater the rapport we have with ourselves, the more we understand our feelings and can navigate them, the more we can respond to what is happening outside of us versus compulsively reacting. The greater the rapport we have with ourselves, the more curious and compassionate we can become with others and their, at times, challenging behaviors.


What do you notice about a leader who lacks it?

We’ve all seen leaders who compulsively react. It’s not pretty, and it creates significant messes that send people into Critter State (fight, flight, freeze). Then no one is productive; everyone is scared and stressed; results don’t happen—all because the leader had low rapport with themselves!

Leaders who rely on command and control, attempt to lead via fear, intimidation, domination, manipulation—these are all signs of leaders with low rapport with themselves.



You talk about self-sabotaging habits. Why is this such a problem?

Self-sabotage not only hurts the leader but also hurts their team and the company overall. It’s essential to identify why we have self-sabotaging habits and behaviors, then to create new more helpful alternatives in their place. This requires a leader to increase rapport with themselves, and two potent tools help a great deal here: Organismic Rights and the Parts Process.

Wilhelm Reich, a brilliant psychoanalyst, created a model of the series of stages human beings move through on their way to maturation. He calls these Organismic Rights. The more fully developed they are, the more a person can operate in what I call the Smart State, where all three key parts of our brain are working together and one has behavioral choice. The less developed they are, the more likely they will operate in the Critter State. I find Organismic Rights are a tremendous tool to unpack why we do what we do and how/where we get stuck.


5 Organismic Rights

  1. The right to exist
  2. The right to have needs
  3. The right to take action
  4. The right to have consequences for one’s actions
  5. The right to love and be loved

Try the Parts Model 

Tell us a little about the Parts Model.

What’s key with the Parts Model is to realize that we all have many parts of our subconscious mind. We created these parts of ourselves to navigate our experiences in life, starting from when we were little kids. What causes us trouble is when either parts are in conflict or when a part’s behavior no longer works for us. All of us have said or thought we wanted one thing, yet we did another. Or we didn’t want one thing, yet we did it. Why? Because we have parts. Part of you wants one thing, part wants another.

For every behavior you want to change, there is a good reason (an Intended Positive Outcome, or IPO). We have a CEO client who used to be a screamer. He’d scream at his staff, then wonder why executives kept quitting. We used the Parts Process to get in touch with the part of him that had the screaming behavior, and we learned the IPO was to get his needs met. Now the screaming behavior was useful at a time—when he was a very young child that was the only way to get his needs met in his chaotic home. We could get his needs met with a new set of behavioral options, which would enable him to create a more healthy and respectful culture and reduce executive exits.

Parts can never be fired, they may be promoted if they want. And all parts are intrinsically equal and valuable, so we really want to develop rapport with them!


How can we use the Parts Process to help us build self-confidence and rapport?

First we use the Parts Process to get in touch with the part of us that has the behavior we want to change. Then we unpack what the IPO is, knowing that we’ll need to preserve that Intended Positive Outcome, that good thing the part wants for us, while we offer it a new behavior that is more helpful in order to get it. Then we negotiate a trial period for the new behavior(s), as we must honor that the current behaviors have been in place for a while, and we want openness to trying new behaviors without abolishing the old ones until the part is fully on board. It’s a fascinating and tremendously effective process. The result is the leader builds self-confidence in their ability to change behaviors that are no longer useful, and they also deepen their experience of compassion and understanding of themselves.


3 Meditation Techniques

What meditation techniques do you find helpful to still the mind?

Here are three of my favorites:


News Feed

Imagine a news feed across the bottom of a TV screen. There’s a bit of news, then some white space, then more news, and so on. Your thoughts are like the news. There’s always more! Now consider the white space between the thoughts. In Japanese, the word ma is loosely translated to mean pause–the pause between notes, the pause between breaths, the pause between sentences, the pause between thoughts.

Close your eyes. Place your inner focus on the constant stream of thoughts scrolling across the TV of your mind. See the scrolling thoughts floating in space or actually across a screen, whatever image works for you.

Don’t pay attention to the thoughts in detail. They scroll by, do not cling to them or reject them. Now focus on the space between the thoughts, the ma, the pause. As you focus on the white space between the thoughts, you’ll find it getting wider, longer, bigger. In time you’ll see mostly emptiness, with few if any thoughts.

Focusing on ma, pause, or emptiness is a nice practice during the day too. Stop and notice open space as conversations pause, as music pauses. We are surrounded by pauses. That’s where some of the best stuff is. We often fill our minds and schedules out of fear of emptiness. Yet emptiness is where true peace and connectedness and love can always be found.


Light Shower

Close your eyes. See yourself with your inner vision. You’re sitting exactly where you are, dressed as you are. You are watching yourself. Move your focus to the top of your head. See a shower of white light pouring down over your head, covering your body gradually. Keep watching it pour over you as it covers you entirely, covers your outfit, your fingers, your face, your shoes or toes. It covers your front and back sides.

You can no longer distinguish your features, you simply see an image of you made of white light. This is the light of God, the Universe, whatever resonates with you. This light is always available to you, all you need to do is remember to tune in to the light shower.

When thoughts arise, let them pass, do not cling to them or reject them. Simply focus on the light shower covering you completely.

This is a terrific technique to do midday if you feel tired or upset.



Sit quietly with a straight spine (in either a chair or on the floor). Visualize sending a thick root from the base of your spine (bottom of tailbone) into the earth. See and feel in growing downward through the dirt and into the bed rock… now see the roots expanding outward to form a strong and wide network. Draw the energy from the earth into your belly, extending it out. Now holding your breath pull the belly in and move the energy up through your pelvic center, navel center, then into your heart center (middle of chest, a few inches below the beginning of the sternum). Hold it there until you feel a slight burn. Now exhale the energy up through your throat, 3rd eye (between eyebrows and slightly above), and crown center (top of head). Repeat several times.

When you are proficient, do the following on alternating inhale/exhale: See and feel the column of white light coming down from the heavens into the top of your head (crown center). Inhale drawing the light into the crown, exhale moving it downward through all chakras/centers: 3rd eye, throat, heart, navel, pelvic floor, base of spine. Repeat and alternate with the upward earth energy technique.



Do both daily, ideally in AM before starting day and also in PM when ending it (or ending work). Notice the tremendous and enduring stillness it creates inside of you. This stillness is where the answers to many of our questions come from.

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