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.
October 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm
Great Post Kim – I used to admire how a good saleperson seems to mimic their client – using the language that the client is comgfotable with is key – after all ,the longshoreman will be offended if you speak to them as a professor (thinking you are “talking down” to them) and the Professor would be offended if you spoke to them as a longshoreman (thinking you crude and not worthy of their trust) – I know that it can work really effectively, and that I mirror you when I say “Go Phillies”
October 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm
Kim, I think I am more comfortable with the emotional mimicking of my clients. I can easily relate to everyone’s situation without leaving my comfort zone. Thanks kim.
Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra
October 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm
You had to know I was going to comment, with a header picture like that. 🙂
This is a great post, and something that I do both in real estate and in officiating. One thing I always think of when interacting with someone for the first time is to FIND SIMILARITIES of experience. Ask questions and listen until you can discover a similarity, then go from there. People like people who are most like them. We have something in common with everyone, we just have to find it.
Bill brought up a point about language, and it is am important one. I notice of myself that my southern accent comes out around southerners and my NY accent comes out around northerners. I don’t really think about it, but it happens. Like I said, people like people who are most like them. Don’t force it, and definitely don’t fake it, but do what comes naturally, and be aware of yourself.
Personally, I think that Bill Clinton might be the best-known example of what you are talking about. I can’t stand the guy personally, and I don’t agree with him politically, but as far as being able to related to people on their terms, no one was better at it than him. I would argue that he used that skill very well, and you should, too.
Gerry 'RealtyMan' Bourgeois
October 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm
Great post. BTW, Typo 4th line Pargraph 2 (hav should be have). 😉
October 29, 2008 at 5:28 pm
Bill – That’s right I’ll join you in that mirror! GO PHILLIES!
Mana – Emotional mimicking is harder, cause you have to read them – but that is awesome if you can do that!
Daniel – Oh yeah, Zebra Man! A great place to use it – officiating! Hadn’t thought of that one 🙂 It works everywhere!
Gerry – Thank you! That’s awful *hangs head 🙁 Fixed!
October 29, 2008 at 7:45 pm
Kim, finding the common bond leads to live long relationships with friends and clients. Have I ever slapped you up the head?
I’m laughing at Daniels comment being a Southerner living in the Mid-West. So easy to convert back to my twang.
November 1, 2008 at 7:23 pm
Good stuff. I learned about this through a “tape” series – you can guess how old it is – called Sales Magic.
You can completely bond with someone by matching their pace and volume. Just as you can make them super uncomfortable by talking to fast and loud.
November 2, 2008 at 6:05 am
Kim – Excellent reminder! When a prospect believes you relate to them and their needs, you very likely have a client.