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We're both "the captain!"

We’re both “the captain!”

So far in this book we have talked about mirroring in terms of building rapport for business and life in general, but the real excitement comes from mirroring in dating. Mirroring in dating is the original “mating dance.” It is a complete synchrony of gestures and movements that seems carefully choreographed, but isn’t. It is so pervasive that it carries through to synchronous breathing and blinking, tone of voice, inflection and pitch, not to mention more obviously gestures like body position and movements such as affect and illustrators, regulators and standing postures. Mirroring is the mechanism that produces fluid dance which is a precursor to the much more intimate dance that happens between the sheets!

Mirroring isn’t a childish copy-cat game, but it is close. A distinction should be made between mirroring and echoing. Echoing happens when gestures and positions are duplicated some time after they first appear, usually within a matter of seconds. Mirroring is done by immediately taking up the same postures, or if facing one another, its mirror opposite. Picture this next example as if the woman and man are both facing head-on, where the woman is on the left and the man on the right. Here a perfect mirror would happen as the inside, or left foot of the woman is up on the foot rest at a bar, with a drink in her right hand, and her left arm resting on the bar top, the man would have his right foot on the foot rest, his drink in his left hand, and his right arm on the bar top. This is full mirroring. If the man pauses in his dialogue and takes a drink and so too does the woman, they will have again mirrored each other. However, if either one pauses for a second, then follows, they will have echoed each other. Other examples in the same scenario include playing with a glass or adjusting foot positions or gestures or touching the face similarly. When complete synchrony is established which can take from minutes to hours (or not at all), we call this the mating dance. I should note too, that echoing can happen up to a minute later and not all gestures are duplicated exactly. Common ground between two people can be extensive, as it is with twins who have a high degree of agreement, or slight when only small agreement is present, and this is reflected in the strength of the dance.

Testing mirroring can be done by simple observation, that is, by being mindful of any following that is done by your object. However, mirroring can also be sped up and manipulated by allowing gestures to be taken up by your partner, then after some time changing them to measure the speed with which the gestures of your partner follows. This tactic is not much different than what happens on the dance floor. Fast music really tells us if we’re on the same page together, and when “dancing without music”, the same effect is present. The more synchrony there is, the stronger the agreement, and the faster positions are adopted. Men and women can both test this out for themselves and will see that when rapport is strong, couples will hurry to stay on top of the dance through its postures.

Mirroring postures in other people, by following their lead can also test interest. To do this, just take on postures similar to your partner and see if they feel comfortable holding them with you. If they change or adopt new postures quickly or seem agitated, you can be sure that they see the two of you as different and that little or no attraction is present. When people disagree, they do their best to appear different, and this is one of the times our guts give us a visceral reaction. When we don’t like someone we do our best to expose our differences rather than our similarities.

Above: Mirroring is an instant way of building or monitoring the connection people have with one another. Yawning for example is a way that even complete strangers feel compelled to mimic. Mirroring-body language helps us gauge what level of agreement is present between people. In our historical past, mirroring each others gestures served to eliminate aggression between people. We use it today in much the same way. Two strangers won’t initially hold the same gestures or will hold closed body language and postures, but as agreements and opinions are expressed the body will show agreement and common ground. In dating, mirroring plays an even more potent role as couples can groove in almost complete synchrony which we call the matting dance. Mirroring therefore, says “Look at me, I’m the same as you, and we both agree”.