Mirroring, or Isopraxism has been around for centuries. The ancient Greeks believed that there was a connection between people looking into mirrors and how they were perceived by others. They would spend hours gazing at their reflections to make sure they looked just right before going out in public. This tradition inadvertently continues today with many people still practicing Isopraxism regularly!
What is Isopraxism?
Isopraxism (also referred to as "mirroring") occurs when one person subconsciously imitates another's body language. This behavior is usually done without the first person even realizing that they are mirroring another's movements. Isopraxism can be seen throughout many different cultures and species, though it is most prominent in humans.
This can be done to either establish rapport with them or to make fun of them. Mirroring someone's movements will lead to a mutual feeling of comfort and understanding, which in turn may lead to increased levels of cooperation between two people. However, if you are mimicking someone else's actions to mock them then this would not likely lead to increased levels of cooperation as it usually does when mirroring for more friendly reasons.
It's an action that can either help or hurt your chances of improving your rapport with someone so it should only be used when needed. If done properly, mirroring can help you to better understand other people and improve your chances of making a strong first impression.
How to Improve Your Rapport with Mirroring
The best way for you to improve your rapport when mirroring someone is by making sure that you are doing it naturally. It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that you need to act as another person, but what will help out your cause is if you act like yourself while you are mirroring someone else's movements. This is because people tend to catch on when others are pretending, so if you want your efforts at rapport improvement with someone to be successful then just be yourself!
Some great techniques can help improve your rapport by using. For example, if you want to improve your rapport with someone then just start doing the same things that they do. You can either use this technique when there is a specific task at hand that you need help on or it could be something as simple as sharing stories about similar experiences and memories. If you try and mirror all of their movements though, not only will it be awkward but you may also come off as a bit creepy!
Mirroring: Mimicking another person's body language is a good way to show that you are interested in what they have to say.
Paralanguage: This includes all of the vocal cues that people use when speaking with others, also known as "vocal paralanguage". The main types of these vocal cues include varying your pitch or tone while talking and pausing at certain points when speaking.
How to Use Mirroring in Everyday Conversations
While mirroring is often an unconscious process, there are things we can do to improve our ability to mirror.
Politicians, as you can see in the image above, are masters of mirroring. They don't have to think about it because they're used to interacting with people and forming genuine bonds; it's what it takes to succeed in politics, where understanding people and winning them over is an essential daily basis.
However, many politicians undergo extensive body language and mirroring training to become as good as they are. It was something they had to consciously practice for a long time before it became second nature to them. They have trainers and counselors who teach them how to reach out to a larger audience in the most effective way possible.
The good news is that you can train yourself to become more fluent in mirroring by practicing. Here are a few pointers to help you get started
Notice how other people's interactions mirror your own.
I mentioned it earlier, but being able to recognize mirroring from afar will help you recognize it more easily in your interactions. Try movies or TV shows if you can't find a natural setting.
Notice how much mirroring occurs in your actions.
When you notice yourself (or another person) adopting a similar posture, repeating certain words, or taking a sip of a drink at the same time, become more aware. Almost every interaction contains some form of mirroring. You simply need to pay more attention to it.
Exercise small forms of mirroring regularly.
Concentrate on one aspect of mirroring in your interaction at a time. Simply imitate the person's posture or hands (crossed/uncrossed, open stance/closed stance, etc.) if you're sitting. "What does this tell me about what the person is thinking or feeling?" you might wonder. It's important to remember that mirroring is about empathy and attunement, not just imitating for the sake of imitating.
Do not be afraid to shatter mirroring.
It will come across as unnatural and awkward if you try to mirror everything all of the time. Don't be afraid to do your own thing while allowing the other person to do theirs. To connect with someone, you don't have to be physically in sync 100 percent of the time. It's just one of the tools you have at your disposal.
Follow these basic guidelines, but don't get too carried away. Mirroring is an important tool in communication, but it can backfire if you overthink it. If mirroring keeps you from listening to others and having a real conversation, don't worry about it.
When should You Mirror Someone?
You may want to consider mirroring another person if any of the following are true:
- They have taken an interest in what you're saying or talking about
- You need them to understand you in a way that they would not be able to if your actions were different
- You want them to feel more comfortable around you and trust what it is that you are saying
When should you Not Mirror Someone?
There are times when mirroring another person's body language is not the right thing to do. For example, if someone has their arms crossed in front of them and they look away from you while trying to end a conversation with you then this could be because they don't want anything else to do with talking to you. It's best to stop mirroring them and move on to other rapport techniques that could be more beneficial in the long run for improving your relationship with this person.
What does Mirroring Someone Consist of?
When mimicking another person's body language, there is no need for making everything seem the same. It only needs to be noticeable that the two of you are mirroring each other, but it should not seem obvious. You may want to start by mimicking just one aspect of their body language and then slowly incorporate more into your own until they notice what is going on.
There's no need for you to mimic every single thing that someone does, but you should try to mimic the bigger things that they are doing. For example, if their feet are pointing towards your direction then make sure yours do too or vice versa. You may also want to consider mimicking other parts of their body language such as how much space they take up while sitting down and what gestures they use when speaking.
What to Avoid When Mirroring Someone Else's Body Language
If you are going to be mirroring someone else, then there are a few things that you should avoid doing. For example, if the other person has their legs crossed and arms folded across their chest while they look away from you in a disinterested way, don't mimic this. If you do, then they will quickly realize that the two of you are mirroring each other and this may lead to them feeling uncomfortable or distrustful.
Isopraxism Benefits for Improving Your Rapport with Others
One of the biggest benefits of using isopraxism when improving your rapport with someone else is that it shows the other person that you are interested in what they have to say. When another person realizes this, then there's a good chance they will feel more open and trusting of your relationship with them.
You may also want to consider using isopraxism when trying to get someone's attention that you have been having a hard time getting. If they notice what it is that you're doing and how much of an effort you are making then this could help them become more willing towards listening to whatever it is that you have to go on in your mind.
Mirroring is a natural occurrence between people we like and with whom we have formed a bond. Mirroring is a way to test and maintain the level of rapport is established between two people or groups of people, and it is as important to long-time friends as it is to strangers meeting for the first time. It's as if each person is looking into a mirror and seeing their reflection when full mirroring appears. When people fully mirror each other, it indicates a high level of rapport or connectivity.
We mirror one another as a way of bonding with one another, and it happens without our knowledge. Children quickly learn to imitate our facial expressions, then progress to imitating our body positions, and finally to imitating us as we perform tasks. If you've ever driven with a child, you've seen them pretend to drive by raising their arms, rocking the steering wheel left and right, or shifting the gears with the stick shift. Imitation is said to be the most flattering form of flattery, and mirroring is no exception.
Mirroring is used in almost every aspect of life, including offices and businesses all over the world. Even when we are relaxing with friends, we act and dress in a certain way. We all clap, sing, stand, and drink together at concerts. We're on the same page, according to mirroring. It's like saying, "Look at us, we walk the same way, talk the same way, and move our bodies in unison, so we must agree."