Matching & Mirroring

Consciously communicating with someone in a style that is similar to theirs is called matching and mirroring.  It is a subtle communication expressed through body language, tonality, and words.

Remember, all things being equal, people do business with people they like…and they like people who are “like” themselves. Matching and mirroring is not designed to be manipulative or obvious, but instead very subtle.  The objective of matching and mirroring is to create a level of comfort, so that the other person gets the feeling that you are “just like them.”  Take a closer look at the three elements that are the foundation of communication.

Words (7% of the total message) – When talking to prospects, don’t talk up (use big words) or down.  Use words that are at the same level as those used by your prospect.  Avoid buzzwords and jargon that may be unfamiliar to your prospect; otherwise, you run the risk of confusing them and making them feel uncomfortable.  Listen for their favorite words and use them, unless doing so would appear to be manipulative.

Tonality (38%) – You remember when your mother said, “Don’t use that tone with me!”  Tonality is how we sound when we speak.  Your tone of voice might be 4-5 times more important than the words that you use. Tonality includes how fast or slowly we speak (pace), how loudly or softly we speak (volume), how high or low our voice is (pitch), and whether we are animated or speak in a monotone.  Think about this.  What does a slow talker think of a fast talker?  (He’s trying to put something over on me.)  What does someone who speaks softly think of someone with a big, booming voice?  (What a loudmouth!)  Our perceptions are heavily influenced by what someone sounds like.  It may not be fair, but it happens.   People like people who sound like themselves.

Body Language (55%) – Body language is the message that you communicate with your body.  It might start with a handshake.  Remember the old rule…always have a firm handshake?  Basically, it’s a good rule, but not in all cases.  What does someone that has a weak handshake think of someone that has a strong handshake?  (Aggressive and overpowering.)  You communicate with your smile, your posture, and your eyes.  Remember the old rule about always having direct eye contact?  That too may be misleading.  You’ve met people who never seem to want to “look you in the eye” haven’t you?  Attempting to draw them into a lot of eye contact may make them uncomfortable.  It may be too intense, too intimidating for them.

(The percentages used above come from a study done by a professor at UCLA in 1967 and have been widely accepted over the years as valid.  There are, however, those that disagree with these findings.  Our intent is not to determine their validity, but rather to inform.  Suffice to say, they’re all important, but the same words can convey an entirely different message depending on the tonality used and the body language demonstrated.)

Self-Study Assignment:  The next time you are in a public place, like a restaurant, watch two people sitting together.  Try to determine from their body language whether they are in or out of rapport.  On your next sales call, pay close attention to the customer’s body language and try to mirror it slightly without being obvious.