Did you know that it’s estimated we produce 700,000 different signs, 250,000 facial expressions and 5,000 distinct hand gestures? We certainly have a lot of options to choose from!
No matter what industry sector you are in, we’re all in the people-business: we strive to be well liked but we also want to have authority, so how do we achieve both? The answer is, mirroring.
A strategy called mirroring can help you achieve the rapport you need with those you communicate with: prospective clients, co-workers, superiors, acquaintances, etc. When we are talking with someone we like or agree with, we subconsciously change our nonverbal behavior to mirror that of the other person’s.
Mirroring conveys that we are both engaged and feel a connection. When done intentionally, yet subtly, it can easily be used to change the outcome of a conversation. You will know that you’ve developed trust and rapport once the other person begins to mirror you in return.
Women use an average of six main facial expressions in a ten-second listening period. On the other hand, men can make less than one-third of the facial expressions a woman can make. So, there is some truth in the expression, “Talking to him is like talking to a brick wall,” after all. Despite few facial expressions, men do experience emotions in conversation – brain scans prove it.
The key to mirroring a man’s behavior is in understanding his use of body language. To communicate effectively with men, women need to reduce their facial expressions so that they don’t come across as overwhelming or intimidating. They need to listen with a more serious face. Avoid excessive head tilts; although they can convey positivity, they are also subconsciously perceived as submission signals. To project power, keep your head straight in a neutral position.
Mirroring intentionally is an acquired skill and does take practice, but it’s an invaluable skill that will help you build relationships.
Eileen Connolly-Robbins is founder of The Main Line Society of Professional Women (SPW) and Executive Vice President and COO of The Main Line Chamber of Commerce, a partner organization of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. For more information on SPW, please visit www.spwmainline.com or contact Eileen at [email protected].