The ability to connect with anyone would be an incredible asset for your social life and professional life.
Imagine having the skill to talk to that cute girl or boy and get permission to go out for coffee, every single time. Think about how confident you’d be going into interviews knowing you’re going to kill it and it won’t feel like an interview from start to finish.
On the flip side, it’s awful when you speak with someone and never connect with them. Often you’ll leave the conversation upset, replaying the conversation in your head only to wish you said something different. The people-pleaser in you isn’t happy.
But where most people get it wrong is connection is much less about words and almost all about nonverbal actions. How you talk, how you breathe, how you use your hands, your posture, and facial expressions.
At first, I thought learning how to connect with anyone was impossible. Some people are just too different from each other to build chemistry. And then I put these nonverbal actions into practice and it worked extremely well—so well that it felt weird.
If you want to build rapport and learn how to connect with anyone, we need to learn from the best at it—Tony Robbins.
In his talk on building rapport, Robbins describes how people naturally move toward, connect, and are more open with people like themselves.
Sports-enthusiasts connect over sports, and yoga-enthusiasts get passionate about yoga together. This makes sense.
The problem is that most people aren’t able to connect with people different from them. They never feel comfortable and don’t have anything in common to talk about.
But, what’s so often forgotten is that words are only 7% of how people communicate. The biggest pie of communication is all nonverbal.
Because of this nonverbal fact and the fact that people better connect around people like them, Robbins explains the tactic of mirroring.
Mirroring is replicating the other person’s body expressions, voice volume and speed, breathing, posture, and energy. For example, say your friend is sitting with his legs crossed. If you cross your legs the same way, they’ll feel more connected without knowing why.
Why mirroring works so effectively is at its core it’s one person communicating to another, I’m like you, we share similar values, and I’m not a threat. This lets both people relax and converse in comfort.
How To Mirror Others
Start mirroring other people’s communication and you can build rapport with them no matter if you’re not exactly like them.
Below is what to mirror and how you do it to become a great communicator.
Facial expressions: When your friend has an excited facial expression and says she has the craziest story, you having a straight face is the opposite of mirroring and will make her feel disconnected. But lighting up with an excited facial expression and nodding your head during her story will build immediate rapport.
Body language: If they use their hands when they speak, you use your hands when you speak. Match their body language and the words become less important because both their body and yours are in tune.
Voice: Talk loud if you’re with a loud talker, talk low if you’re with a quiet talker. Loud people think quiet talkers need to speak up and quiet people think loud people are obnoxious. Mirror vocal tone and people will positively notice. Same goes for fast talking and slow talking.
Breathing: If your family member is breathing really fast, mimic their fast breathing and you’ll both feel closer. Again, they won’t consciously make the deduction that you’re replicating their breathing, but the effect will be powerful.
Touch: Be extra touchy and playful with your friends who enjoy physical touch, and keep your space with your friends who feel uncomfortable being up close and personal. Each person will feel appreciated this way based on their preference.
Energy: If someone is high energy bouncing around the room, they want to be around high energy people. Give that same energy to them and they’ll love you. They’ll think, this guy knows how to go through the day, he’s one of us.
While you can’t always share the same talking interest in a subject, you can always mirror anyone to connect with them and make them feel understood.
So become practiced enough at mirroring, and it’s possible to connect with anyone.
What’s amazing about mirroring is it helps the other person just as much as you.
By putting yourself in position to connect by matching their posture or speaking tempo, you create a meaningful conversation. Now they’re going to leave the conversation feeling listened to and happy.
This positive experience can completely turn around their day. And you feel happy about being the source of their happiness.
Lastly, if you want more from Tony Robbins, I recommend checking out his new documentary on Netflix: Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru. I watched it yesterday and loved it!
Is it easy or hard for you to connect with people? How could mirroring specifically change your life? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments.