The Art of the Schmooze: How to Make People Like You, Part 3: Get in Sync with the Mirror Effect

Thursday, January 7, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:08 AM

Originally Published 2007-06-11 15:26:30

This is part 3 of an ongoing series of articles entitled “The Art of the Schmooze”. Here’s a list of the other posts in this series (some are yet-to-be-written; will be updated after completion). Please note that these articles, although certainly useful in all social interactions, are written mostly with salesmanship in mind. Since I'm single and spend a lot of time on athletics, I tend to use dating and basketball as metaphors, but I nevertheless hope that you'll find these tactics of higher value in getting your startup funded, increasing your sales quantity, and improving your bottom line.

  1. Introduction

  2. Showing genuine interest

  3. The mirror game (this post)

  4. Conveying openness through body language

  5. The All-Important Smile

  6. Eye Contact

  7. Breaking the ice

  8. Listening attentively and actively

  9. Finding something in common

  10.  Questions vs. Statements

  11. Add value to the conversation

So what exactly do I mean by "the mirror effect"? Well, this is a function of body language that we all tend to do naturally. When you are listening intently to someone speak, especially in an intimate setting with only a few participants (alas, this doesn't apply nearly as well to the lecture hall format), you'll find yourself mirroring the body language of the person you're focused on.

This behavior serves as a subtle acknowledgment to the speaker that you are paying attention, interested, and listening. These cues then imply on an even deeper level that you're interested, genuine, and happen to like both them and the topic of conversation. As luck would have it, these are the exact feelings you're seeking to encourage given the goal of "making people like you".

Now, we all have our "off" days, which is why I'm codifying this. No athlete is in "the zone" all the time, and in these cases, we have to fall back on our training. When I find myself "out of sync" or tired on the basketball court, for instance, I often remind myself how to execute a jump shot right before I physically do it -- muttering things like "put your legs into it", "follow through", and "you've done this a million times" to myself often. (There's the whole visualization aspect, too, of course, but that's tangential here.)

So when you're not in your salesmanship "zone", and you simply need to fall back on practice and technique, use the mirror effect concept to get in the groove. When your client puts her elbows on the table, put yours on the table too. Do this in a natural way, while showing genuine interest, looking her in the eye, and actively listening. When she pauses, wipes her hair away from her eyes, and returns her arm to the table in a different position, move your arm to the same new position (don't pretend to wipe hair away from your eyes unless you need to -- that will just look silly!). When she leans in, do the same. And so on.

Focus on your client, synchronize your basic body position, follow body language cues, mirror the big movements, acknowledge the subtle ones, and you're on your way to closing a sale.

As a bonus, you can use this technique to measure your client's receptiveness to your message. When you're speaking, change up your body language slightly as you present. Try leaning forward or back, putting an elbow on the table, etc. -- if your message is being heard, your client will be in sync with you subconsciously, and they'll follow suit.

This extends to a lot more behavior than meets the eye. If you're in synch with someone, you'll find yourself thirsty when they drink, tired when they yawn, and hyper when they're emphatic. Get in synch with your client, and you'll find quickly that they will get in synch with you.

Remember, 50% (some would say more!) of sales is making people like you. If you repulse them, they'll go out of their way NOT to buy from you. On the other hand, if they adore you, they'll go out of their way to use you as a vendor as often as possible.


On 2007-08-14 12:55:30 wisp billing said:
While some of your comments so far are self explanatory, others have been helpful. I just started a business and don't have the money to hire a salesperson. I've been forced to do it all myself and it's been difficult. I find all tips both big and small to be very useful. I'm looking forward to more on The Art of the Schmooze, I need all the schmooze i can get.

On 2007-08-14 13:02:08 Johnny Fuery said:
Thanks for the kind words. I've replied to you via email also...

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