Tips For Mirroring Body Language

Tips for mirroring body language can come in very handy for building instant rapport. This could be great for sales people, professionals in the health industry, (especially mental health, mediators, mentors) or for those looking to improve friendships. There is no real instant way to master mirroring body language, but with time and practice, and a little increased observation, one can soon learn to recognize it and improve body language application to everyday situations.

  1. Smiling counts as body language. A smile is a warm greeting, nonverbal acknowledgement of understanding, something shared when people are happy and comfortable, and the simplest form of mirroring body language. When someone smiles, simply smile back. If you are self-conscious about your smile, practice in front of a mirror. It is important for the smile to be relaxed and natural, and most importantly that it be friendly.
  2. Leaning toward the speaker is a good way to mirror, or provoke mirrored, body language. When someone is talking and you are both sitting opposite, even if other people are around, you will notice that many people lean in towards the speaker. This is body language that shows interest and will often provoke the speaker to lean in toward the listeners. If there is a group and one leans in, often the others follow.
  3. Creating distance with body language and mirroring body language can also be useful. When someone begins to create distance, such as stepping back, stepping a bit further away, or leaning back, it can be helpful for you to also take a step back or lean back. Creating distance can often show someone's discomfort, or even something simpler like perhaps they are in a hurry. If you are talking to someone and they begin to move away, let them. If you want to be helpful, you also move away, in the opposite direction, allowing for greater distance. The other person may not consciously note this movement, but they will subconsciously remember that they felt more comfortable with you and this can help in future dealings.
  4. Touching during story-telling can be a comforting body language movement to mirror. If the speaker sometimes lays a hand on your arm, hand, shoulder while telling you something, or while listening to you talk, this is a way of showing they are listening and connecting. When you talk and listen, it can be helpful to do the same. That being said, if the other person's body language tells you they are uncomfortable with this closeness, touching can damage rapport and cause distance to develop. It is best to practice, be mindful, and try to mirror the other person, or people, until you have strong rapport developed. Then you may lead even begin to the body language mirroring.
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