Communicating Copy Cat
Hopefully when interacting with people there is a natural connection and one that is easily established without any thoughts about it. But what if a gap exists? When you just seem to be up against a wall? This can happen in person, on the phone, or even in text.
Matching, Mirroring, Mimicking
Some ways to break through the barrier are easy to pull off; you just have to be aware of it. Most solid connections are with people who are similar to you. You can make some similarities by creating them. You won’t get caught, although at some times you might feel that you will. (I’m ready for the comments, I’m sure there are instances people have figured out what is going on – keep everything in balance, folks, don’t go overboard.) This way of communicating with people has been proven in my life with clients, servers, kids, cashiers, coworker, and friends. Try it!
Make sure you know what your normal voice level/pace, hand signals, eye movements, and stature consist of. You need to have a base line so that when something needs adjusted you know how much. For example, if you know you are a loud person, you have to reduce your tone level for a “normal” range. If the other person is loud, you may be able to talk without any adjustment. Ask people that you communicate often with or practice just talking on seesmic.
Voice Tonage and Pace
When speaking with a soft-spoken person if you are not – tone it down! If someone you are speaking with is loud and talks quickly – speed it up! When the person you are speaking to has a really bad day? Grump it up! Yes, really.
Someone who has a hard time making eye contact with people typically does not enjoy being stared at into their eyes. People who enjoy bouncing around and nearly knocking you out with hand movements will be more open if you are not like a statue – they’ll view it as “cold”. Pay attention to what the person is doing and match it. When sitting with arms crossed – cross them in the same manner.
If you want to connect with someone via text/chat/email you need to mimic. If the writing is light and friendly – loosen up! If it’s written strict and professional – remember your business writing skills! Did you receive a long email? Write longer!
What can you Lose?
It’s amazing it works… but it does. Testimonials include… wait staff quickly warming up and giving good service when it was obvious they were ready to spill water on purpose; teenagers ready to talk after having a bit of attitude conversation together; and clients gaining trust when they see there isn’t a pressure to speak when they prefer near silence.