We are all copy-cats

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.

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How to shake hands like Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton, considered one of the greatest extroverts of all time, had a certain way with people.  The connections he made gave him power and influence that he used to support his agenda.  One of the staples of a man like this is his hand shake.

As most of us know a hand shake can open doors, literally.  Businessmen and women will judge you almost immediately if your shake isn’t up to par with their professional standard.  In an interview, your hand shake is your first impression.

However, how exactly can we imitate a hand shake so unique and profoundly effective at building instantaneous rapport?  The method for shaking like Bill Clinton is described below.

  1. Establish and hold eye contact with the other party.  This demonstrates confidence and trustworthiness.  If you approach someone for a hand shake, but you aren’t staring into their eyes, it alerts the person immediately that you either have something to hide or aren’t as genuine or confident as you need to be to talk to others.  Also, eye contact provides the foundation for accurate communication.  Emotions are first expressed in the eyes, way before they are expressed in the body or the voice.
  2. Be dominant.  As you go for the shake, make sure your palm is facing down and your hand is definitively on top of the other party’s.  This expresses dominance, and makes the other party more likely to agree with/follow/believe you.  Furthermore, the firmer the shake the better.  Having a firm grip demonstrates strength and assurance.  The worst thing you can do is give someone a squid (a limp hand that has barely enough strength to make contact with the other hand).
  3. Maximize surface contact.  Psychological studies have proven time and time again that touching others is the lifeblood of building healthy emotional relationships.  However, studies have also shown that the more you appropriately touch someone within the first few minutes of meeting them, the more likely they are to respond positively to what you have to say.  There are multiple ways of going about maximizing contact, however the most common is using your non-dominant hand to cover up the other party’s hand.  However, there are two other ways of adding surface contact which are also quite effective.

Utilizing these tips, you will never look like a chump in the eyes of an interviewer or other business professional.