To start off, I’d like to define two terms for you.
Rapport: a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.
Mirroring: the act of subconsciously and subtly copying another person’s actions or movements in order to build a greater rapport with that person.
Have you ever seen two people who genuinely like each other getting coffee or eating lunch? They tend to be in similar positions when they converse. If one of them is leaning on the table, often times the other will join them. Similarly, in a classroom setting, it is likely that if your friend’s hand is on his desk, you will put yours on a desk as well.
If you find this hard to believe, look at some of the images below.
Here, all three of these figures have their hands relaxed in their laps, and one leg (from either side) crossed over.
Here, all four of these associates are touching the table in some way. Furthermore, they are all smiling, and they are all making contact with some form of paper or accessory.
We copy each other’s actions and responses when we like each other or when we have a connection to them. This is called subconscious mirroring, and it’s been used and practiced in the business world for years now. In fact, human resource officers have been copying their employees moves and positions for years in order to better connect with them and maintain a less threatening presence.
Below, I incorporated a video tutorial published by BNET, a company that educates business associates on how to “mirror” other associates.
Personally, I believe that actively trying to mirror another person’s actions can come off as fake and sometimes awkward. If you mirrored everything I did while I was talking to you, I’d feel incredibly uncomfortable. However, this idea of mirroring could be useful in the business environment, and could be an indicator of whether or not you truly have built rapport with another person.