Chameleon Effect: Does Mimicking People Really Make Us More Likeable?
It is every so often that we read in the glossies or persuasion manuals that playing copycat to someone’s body language will automatically make us seem more likeable. But what is important to establish is whether mimicry is the reason for others to like us, or is imitation a by-product of successful social communication.
In our daily lives, this is a tendency that occurs naturally. Very often, we don’t even realize that we are doing it. In social psychology it is known as the communication accommodation theory. What it means is that we tailor the message in the way we think the recipient is most likely to receive it well.
By mimicking another’s actions, we are reinforcing their behavior and building a rapport. The key to making the most of psychological theories like the chameleon effect lie in having more empathy towards others. Researchers Chartrand and Bargh found that people who have a greater empathy quotient showed a greater likelihood to imitate others. This is because empaths are more inclined to pay attention to people and their behavior. In the process, they make more friends than non-empaths.
Using mirroring to connect with others easily
Verbal mirroring is the simplest way to create a connection with another. For this to work, one needs to listen intently to what the other is saying, and reflect back the words or tonal inflections they use.
Take a cue from the words they use to communicate like “excited”, “dejected”, “tired” in their speech, and use the same words when formulating a response. When you mirror another’s language it shows that you are in harmony with the other person, that you comprehend their condition and that you are an empathetic listener.
Remember that ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’. If you would like to successful at business, mirror what your prospects and customers are saying. If you truly want to boost sales, ask your customers to describe your brand. Use these words in customer communication to match your audience.