By Celeste DeCamps
Walking into a room full of strangers is a nightmare for many people. It feels like you’re back in high school and no one wants to ask you to dance. Building an instant rapport with people is a daunting task, and it’s hard to figure out how to do it quickly and make a positive first impression.
Many of us have a difficult time reading another person’s body language. This is because we are caught up in our own fear of how we are coming across, and so we don’t take the time to focus on the person or people in front of us.
The simple technique of mirroring is a way to make a strong connection to others. It increases our ability to be more relatable in a subtle way.
We copy, or “mirror,” each other naturally. Watch friends who have known each other a long time or a couple that has been together for a while. They tend to stand the same way, finish each other’s sentences and walk in lockstep.
Scientists have discovered that our brains possess mirror neurons that give us the ability to read facial expressions and body language and feel someone else’s emotion. If someone smiles at us, we automatically smile back.
The technique of mirroring involves consciously being aware of the person in front of you. Instead of trying to think of what you are going to say as you’re waiting for your turn to speak, take a breath and really listen to her. Take note of how she is standing or sitting. Without looking deliberate, slowly put your body in the same position.
Try not to be too exact. The conversation will become uncomfortable if someone feels that he is being copied. The idea of mirroring is to gain a subtle connection. Wait a few seconds before you mirror a person’s body position. Pay attention to the volume and pace of your new acquaintance’s speech. If he is relaxed, you should be relaxed. If he seems to be talking a little fast, you should try to answer his questions a little more quickly. If he leans forward, again, carefully, lean forward as well.
We gain a better understanding of each other when we mirror. When people know they are really being listened to, they’ll be more willing to hear your ideas as well. Get ready to dance.
Celeste DeCamps is the co-founder of Authentic Voice. Twice a month, she and Michele Marshall help people find their voice and their message through lectures and interactive workshops. For more information, visit Meetup.com/Authentic-Voices.