You Don’t Say – Body Language Vol 14 – by Ray Hudson

Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson

I said in the last column, about 80% of our communication is non-verbal. This week, I’ll tell you about a way to improve the chances of a successful connection with another person through a process called ‘mirroring’.

Have you ever noticed the body language between two people that you know are comfortable with each other? One of the main things you’ll see is that each person tends to mirror the movements of the other. If they are standing at a counter talking, their posture tends to be a mirror image. Hand gestures, even facial gestures will be the same. It generally signals that they are on the same wavelength; they click. It is often unconscious, but signals that one is sympathetic or similar in belief to the other person.

This knowledge can be very important if you are trying to establish a better relationship with a work colleague, your boss, someone you want to get to know better. It has been shown that in sales techniques, mirroring a client or customer will tend to put them at ease and thus more receptive to your message. If you are feeling ill at ease in a group, mirroring the predominant postures and gestures, without being brash about it can put you and everyone else at ease. To do it most effectively, it is often recommended that you make the similar gesture or take the similar posture within about 10 seconds of the other person.

Over a longer period, mirroring may extend to dressing, either similar clothes or colours, and may extend to emulating vocal inflection or even phrasing such as use of the word, “eh,” or “know what I mean?”

The only caution is not to overdo such technique when mirroring your boss. It might be perceived as a threat. However, that being said, it still works very well as there’s a great deal of truth in the adage, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Charles Caleb Colton, English cleric around 1800.

For more on body language, check out, The Definitive Book of Body Language, by Allan and Barbara Pease.

Now, on to hyperbole:

Hyperbole, pronounced hi-PERB-oh-lee, means overstatement, exaggeration. An example is the word Panic which is defined as a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals. Does that sound like the state of affairs for the average person who says they’re in a panic? The problem is we are so intent on using the strongest, the most extreme words to describe our situations, that there’s nothing left for use in less extreme circumstances.