Matching and mirroring
Remember that people tend to like people who are like themselves. You will tend to like people who are like you, I will tend to like people who are like me.
The most important key to gaining instant rapport with another individual therefore is to make ourselves like them. One way that we can do this is to match and mirror their words (7%), tonality(38%) and physiology (55%).
Another important point to remember is that rapport is not some new technique that we are learning here for the first time. The state of rapport is something that occurs quite naturally on a regular basis during our communication, without any conscious effort on our part. What we are seeking to learn here is how to actively and rapidly create a state of rapport with another individual whenever we choose.
If the other person becomes aware that we are actively using specific techniques to create the rapport state then it is highly likely that the state of trust and responsiveness will be lost. Thus we will have a higher success rate if we match and mirror the most unconscious elements of the other person's behaviour during the communication.
Somewhat conveniently the elements of communication that are most outside of our conscious awareness are our physiology and tonality which, also conveniently, together amount to 93% of our communication.
Thus by matching and mirroring the physiology and tonality of the person we are communicating with we can make ourselves most like them, and thus generate rapport, without their becoming consciously aware of the process. Remember that subtlety is the key. Make your matching and mirroring a feint reflection of the other person's behaviour so that it does not become obvious to them consciously.
We can also match and mirror the words that are used by the person we are communicating with. This will obviously be more inside their conscious awareness but will add to the rapport as using some of the same words is a natural part of conversation.
Let's first of all consider some of the parts of a person's physiology that we can mirror. An exhaustive list is far beyond the scope of this article - there are infinite subtle elements and nuances that we can match and mirror if only we have the sensory acuity to notice them. Here are a few suggestions:-
- Are they sitting, standing, kneeling, slouching?
- Are they relaxed or tense?
- Are they leaning in any particular direction?
- Are their legs or arms crossed?
- Are their hands in their pockets or holding an object?
- Is their head tilted in a certain direction?
- Are their feet together or apart?
- Do they gesture with their hands in a particular way?
- Do they gesture with nods of the head or another body part?
- Are the gestures large/small/exaggerated/restricted?
- Are their gestures toward a particular person or thing?
- Do they use gestures to assist in describing objects or locations?
I spent some time considering useful ways to describe or define facial expressions for the purposes of this article and came to the conclusion that as my model of the world differs from yours, my subjective description of a facial expression would differ from yours.
Humans have 53 facial muscles which contribute in varying degrees to a myriad nuances of facial expression that we are capable of. If you have enough sensory acuity you will be able to distinguish facial expressions far more exquisitely than I can describe here in mere words alone and, as a rule of thumb, if you can observe it you should be able to match/mirror it.
Obvious areas of the face to consider are the brow (is it wrinkled or smooth, raised or lowered?), the mouth (including lips, teeth and tongue), the bridge of the nose (wrinkled or smooth?), the eyes, the cheeks and cheek bones, the jaw and also look for facial symmetry or asymmetry.
Not an obvious part of physiology to match, some may say, but it can be more powerful than one might think in establishing rapport and it is very far outside of a person's consciousness.
- Rate - is it fast and shallow or slow and deep?
- Location - high in the chest, low in the stomach or a the mid-line of the torso?
- Pattern - is it regular or irregular?
* Avoid matching the breathing of a person with a respiratory condition such as asthma - distressing for them and unhealthy for you.