Mirroring is another effective way to communicate. It’s when a person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. It is the subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals. This occurs in everyday interactions and often goes unnoticed by both the person enacting the mirroring behaviors as well as the individual who is being mirrored.
When you want to connect with someone and build trust, mirroring their body language is an effective approach. For example, when they put their hands on their hips, you can move your hands to your hips to mirror them, thereby subconsciously conveying connection, friendliness, and openness.
A small gesture can unconsciously establish a powerful connection and rapport. The similarities in nonverbal gestures allow each party to feel more connected and to therefore believe that they share similar attitudes and ideas. It promotes a sense of engagement and belonging within the situation. It’s the connection of “like to like.” This is something executives aren’t conscious of, and knowing this unspoken code will help you establish a level playing field.
Once during a problem-solving meeting with four men, I began to sense that my ideas weren’t being heard or seriously considered. The body language of one gentleman in particular, who was sitting with his hands in a steeple on the table in front of him, indicated to me that he didn’t want to hear my opinion. Holding one’s hands in this way is considered a power position. Looking across the table, I saw that another gentleman was doing this as well. I needed the chance to make my point, but they were sending the message they didn’t want to hear it. I mirrored them and put my hands in a steeple position to let them know I was holding my ground. Honestly, I wasn’t comfortable holding my hands like that. Once I matched the steeple, one of the gentlemen started moving his steeple up and down. So I did the same. By this time, it took everything in me to keep from laughing. They never noticed the mirroring. It worked, and they backed down and began to engage with me.
Whether you’re at home, at work, or in a social situation, be mindful of what people are communicating— verbally and nonverbally. Mirroring body language is a powerful strategy you can use to increase a person’s receptiveness to your ideas and recommendations.
Marja Norris is the CEO and Founder of MarjaNorris.com, a company dedicated to helping women achieve their career goals with style and confidence. With a distinguished career in finance, Marja has successfully navigated the male-dominated business world. Working her way up from an entry-level assistant to a Senior Vice President, she draws on her three decades of experience in the corporate world to empower women to pursue their highest goals and blossom into everything they can be.
Marja is passionate about coaching women on projecting their best professional selves. With the publication of her latest book, The Unspoken Code: A Businesswoman’s No-Nonsense Guide to Making It in the Corporate World, Marja’s mission is to provide women with the tools to successfully navigate the workplace through heightened confidence, excellent communication skills, and dressing the part to achieve career success.