Mirroring body language is a way to bond and to build understanding. It is a powerful tool that we use instinctively without even being aware of it. The most obvious forms of mirroring are yawning and smiling. When you see someone yawn, or even if you just read the word “yawn”, you are likely to yawn immediately, or during next 30 seconds. Smiling is also pretty contagious – seeing a smiling person makes you want to smile too, and as a result you will feel better, even if you were not feeling particularly happy in the beginning.
According to some scientists, there is a neuron that affects part of the brain that is responsible for recognition of faces and facial expressions. This neuron causes the ‘mirroring’ reaction when you see smiling or frowning faces. In other words, it causes you to copy facial expression that you see on others.
Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way to say ‘I am like you, I feel the same’. The synchronicity of the crowd at the rock concerts and parades gives a secure feeling of belonging to each and every participant. The research shows that people who experience the same emotions are likely to experience mutual trust, connection and understanding. They will also begin to match facial expressions and body language. In other words, they will subconsciously mirror each other.
When people say that the vibes are right around a particular person, they refer to mirroring and synchronous behavior that they are not consciously aware of. This is why playing background music during a romantic date is such an effective tool – it brings the two people to the same wave-length.
It is worthy to mention that if you intentionally assume a certain body position that is characteristic to a certain emotional state, you will start to experience the feelings connected with this state. A good example of this is feeling happy after forcing one’s self to smile. Also, if you assume a body language position that displays confidence, you will start feeling confident, even if you didn’t feel so initially. One example of confident body language is the Steeple gesture – a gesture commonly used by a seated person during a conversation, where finger tips of both hands are connected together and pressed against each other. If you do this, you will notice that you start feeling more confident about what you say. This is the reason why mirroring body language makes people feel understood. When people see you mirroring them, they get message that you feel what they feel.
Many women have the natural ability to pick up and interpret body signals. Therefore, it is not surprising that a woman is more likely to mirror another woman, than a man is to mirror another man. If you observe one woman talking to another, it will seem to you that the situations or events that she is talking about, are happening to both of them. This is because of the facial expressions that the listener will mirror.
It is interesting that a man who makes a point of mirroring a woman’s facial expression while she is talking, will be described by her as caring, intelligent and attractive.
Men, however, generally prefer an emotionless mask that allows them to feel in control of the situation. This doesn’t mean that they don’t experience emotions however, it just means that the brain scans reveal that men feel emotions as strongly as women, yet they would just prefer to hide their emotions behind their masks.
The key to mirroring a man is realizing that he doesn’t use his face to express his attitudes; instead he uses his body. If you are a woman, you don’t really need to mirror the man’s emotionless mask. However, you will need to reduce your facial expressions so that he doesn’t see you as intimidating. Do not try to mirror what you think he is feeling, because if you get it wrong he will think you are silly. In business situations keep your face serious, and you will be viewed as intelligent.
Mirroring body language and facial expressions is just one part of a much bigger story. People also mirror voices, intonations and accents. Doing so, along with mirroring body language and face expressions, helps to build understanding and trust. Do not speak faster than the other person – this makes him feel pressured. The best idea is to speak at the same pace, or a slightly slower pace than your companion.
While mirroring body language gains you acceptance, you still need to take into consideration your relationship with the person you are mirroring. If you are in a subordinate position and are mirroring the dominant body language of your boss, he will view you as arrogant. From the other side of the coin, if you want to intimidate those who are trying to prove superior to you, mirroring their body language will help disarm them and change their position.
Mirroring body language is an excellent way to build trust and understanding quickly. If you want to establish a connection with a new person, mirror his or her posture, gestures, sitting position, tone of voice and talking pace. This will make them feel that there is something about you that they like. This is because they will see in you their own reflection, however, never mirror other person’s negative body language, as you will just give off a rather negative vibe.
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