"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." -Edith Wharton
I hear the phrase "echo-chamber" used online often. People are so terrified that they'll end up surrounded by people that have similar thoughts and ideas. That said, have you ever taken a moment to look at the people you surround yourself with in life? Are they people that hold vastly different ethics and morals than you? Are they people from the opposite end of the spectrum politically, spiritually or philosophically? If you're being honest with yourself, the answer is almost always, "no, not really."
Birds of a feather flock together. We get a sense of comfort from being in a familiar setting with familiar objects and familiar faces. The business world is no different.
But what if you're a half mexican, liberal, yankee, creative thinker trying to sell financial products to a white, conservative, southern, analytical thinker? What do you do? How can you make that person feel comfortable dealing with your yankee ways? How can you make that bird feel like you are part of his/her flock? The truth is, you can't convince them that you are a southern conservative, that would be disingenuous and as such you'd come across as a "salesman" and we don't want that, do we?! So how do you do it? Well, there are a number of ways, but today we will focus on:
Chances are that you already utilize mirroring in your personal life and you just don't realize it. Mirroring is a rapport-building technique in which the salesperson adopts the physical and verbal behaviors of their audience.
For example, if your client is sitting back in their chair as if to distance themselves from you, the last thing you want to do is to lean in closer to them. Give them some space. Mirror their body language and sit back in your chair as well. If your client is speaking slowly and your natural inclination is to be very high-energy and speak quickly, then take a breath and be mindful of your cadence. Slooow Down and have a conversation at their pace. You would be shocked at how much this will help you generate an buying atmosphere.
You can mirror the way they are sitting, the way the use or don't use hand gestures, facial expressions or even certain word choices. If you can master all of these things it will feel like you are speaking the EXACT language that your customer speaks. Incorporate this in with paraphrasing and your customer will think you understand and get him/her more than anyone else they do business with.
CONFESSION: I've been selling for over ten years, the last six of which have been for a top-notch sales organization. Only until the last two years have I really mastered mirroring someone that is the opposite of my personality style. It's difficult to do and requires strict discipline.
Wait, wtf, tng you never said anything about homework!!??
Tonight and tomorrow I ask that you be mindful of the way you mirror those around you. In fact, if you can pull it off, try and spend time with someone that has the opposite personality style as you. If you are a high-energy social-driver, then I want you to spend time with a pensive, analytical introvert. Do your best to mirror them, from their pace and style of speaking to the way they physically carry themselves.
Warning This isn't "mocking" someone. Much like paraphrasing, this can be done artfully, in a way that isn't noticeable to the person you are conversing with. If someone is so different from you that it seems inauthentic to mirror them, then dial it down. Meet them half-way.
Again, never abandon your authentic self. Those that do are the ones that give salespeople a bad name.
Thought exercise: What would it mean for someone to mirror you? What speech patterns would they have to adopt? Hand gestures, facial expressions etc? -Interesting to consider, isn't it?
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FUN LINGUISTICS FACT TIME
One form of unconscious mirroring we do all the time is adapting our syntactic structures to match our interlocuter. For example, if your interlocuter says "I passed the book to Sarah", you're more likely to later use that same structure, "I X'ed the Y to Z", rather than the other possible structure, "I X'ed Z the Y". This is called syntactic priming, and for a long time it was thought to be somewhat of an automatic process. But a recent study, Weatherholtz et al., 2014, actually found that when your interlocuter is someone who you perceive to be different from you, the effect of syntactic priming is much smaller. So even the most seemingly minute aspects of mirroring are modulated by social factors!