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communication skills- mirroring body language

Updated on September 22, 2011

Mirroring Body Language

Mirroring body language is a useful skill to learn use when you want to create rapport with someone. This communication skill is sometimes also called body mirroring.

Lets look at where this skill is useful to you.

Mirroring body language can be used whenever you want to create trust with somebody. The other person experiences you as being the same as them. This sameness happens on an unconscious level and it is one of the ways that humans decided who was with the tribe and who wasn't.

You may have heard of the saying monkey see monkey do. This is because there are a part of the brain that copies the actions of other primates. And Yes, you are a primate too along with Gorillas, Chimpanzees and monkeys.

The part of the brain that copies the actions of others are called "mirror neurons " and are located in the part of the brain called Broccas area.

If you observe a top notch sales person in action you will notice that they copy the body language, or positions of their prospective customer. Some of the really great sales people will then lead their prospects and use Body mirroring to manipulate the person into buying from them.


Next time you are buying something just be observant of what the sales person is doing. If they start to copy your actions you can throw them off by doing something totally unexpected and that is not normal behaviour .

This will throw the salesperson off your scent, so to speak. One of my favourites is to throw my hands in the air and then scream something vaguely crazy sounding. eg " they're coming to get us. RUN !!! "

Apart from anything else, this will almost certainly mean that you'll enjoy the rest of your day, as you tell your friends about your adventure. You may be called crazy but it's worthwhile as an exercise in studying human behaviour.

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It is All Part of a Process

The process I am referring to is of course building trust with another human being.

Oh, by the way, this can be misused by unscrupulous ne'er do wells and scumbags. Rest assured though that eventually the other persons B.S. detectors will come on and then you are screwed. For a long time.

As an aside, Walmart, MacDonalds, Sony and AOL have all fallen foul of the power of social networking. Without going into details, they all attempted to scam the marketplace. The net result was loss of credibility, customers and billions of dollars of revenue. So, please don't misuse this stuff. You'll get caught and then it will come back to haunt you in ways you can't even begin to imagine. Then there's the rest of the crowd too...

But I trust you, so here goes...

Mirroring body language is one of many things that you can use to create rapport.

( See my other recent post for more information on this topic )

So how do you do it ?

Well first you have to be good at observing the other person. You have to be able to see what they are doing with their body and then you copy it. That's the simple thing but what exactly do you copy ?

Well you can copy their gestures and hand movements. Their Facial expression, ( eg: if they are smiling then you smile too ),

You can also match their height . That is to say if they are sitting opposite or beside you, then try to get your eyes about level with theirs. My friend Richard was training some Japanese students and he kept lowering his body in the chair to match his students. As he lowered his body the students all lowered theirs. below his. You see it is a part if Japanese culture for the student to be lower than the teacher. It got to the point that everyone in the class was almost lying on the floor.

Richard is now happy to be higher than his students because they are more comfortable with him that way. So, the moral of the story is, be aware of cultural differences.

You can also match their breathing rate. This has a profound effect on any interaction. ( try this one when you are making love with your spouse ) . As you breathe in and out together, you will notice a shift in how you feel about the other person. This should be an Olympic event ....The synchronised breathing team....

You can also match the way that people speak. ( see my post on rapport )

There is a caveat with this information. It is this. Be careful who you do these exercises with. Be certain that you actually want a long and enduring relationship, first.


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