Further to my article on EQ versus IQ, business executives in Edinburgh can also use Behaviour Mirroring to achieve greater business success. Behaviour Mirroring or Limbic Synchrony describes the empathic mirroring of another’s actions to provide a signal to the “mirror partner” that they are on the same wavelength. We all do it, but once you become aware of it you can use it to your advantage.
You may have noticed that when you first met your significant other you found yourself subconsciously copying the movements of him/her. That mirroring, in turn, made you feel (although you may not have realised it) more comfortable in the presence of that person. Turn it the other way and think about a face to face conflict you have had with another person, I don’t mean a fight, but perhaps a disagreement with a neighbour, family member or colleague. Do you remember a synchronicity in your movement with the other person, or did one of you have your arms crossed while the other gesticulated madly? It was most likely the latter, and part of the reason that you didn’t see eye to eye is that you had no limbic synchrony.
It was proven at the University of Parma in the 1980’s whereby a monkey that saw another obtaining food experienced the same brain cell function as the monkey who was actually eating the food. These mirror neurons helped the scientists discover what we know call Behaviour Mirroring in human beings. Not only do these neurons give us a feeling of experiencing what we see others do, but they also allow us to reflect those emotions back at the subject telling them that we “understand”. It’s this key area of the brain that allows us to empathise and socialise better than any species on the planet.
So how can we harness the power of mirroring in business? Well, imagine that you are attending a business networking meeting in Edinburgh, it’s the usual group of people that seem to circulate around all the groups, but you notice one person who is standing out from the crowd. They are standing out because they are acting differently, and right away you can tell they have never attended one of these networking meetings before, their body language is completely different to everyone else in the room. Now, this could be because they are nervous, don’t like the people in the room or are haven’t learned the skill of behaviour mirroring to allow them to break into the “networking circle”. So, you now have a choice, do you let them flounder on their own or do you approach them, mirroring some of their behaviours? If you are empathetic and sociable, you will likely go over and break the ice by saying something like “I used to find these things difficult, but if you let me introduce you, you’ll see this is a great bunch of people” and your body language will most likely mirror that of the new person. By saying the words and mirroring their behaviour (it would scare them off no doubt if you marched in with a strong handshake and your elevator pitch), you will endear yourself to them and they will instantly trust you to introduce them to others in the group.
And there you have it, your first use of behaviour mirroring in the work environment, but how about a trickier scenario. One where you are in a leadership role and you must persuade your team to carry out a new task that has been met with resistance in the past. Mirroring your team’s expressions and body positions creates a feeling of empathy before you have even spoken a word, it will help you break through a barrier to success, that sheer willpower may only have inflamed. Behaviour Mirroring can make your staff feel connected to you, and as a result, they will want to collaborate because they have this “feeling” that you understand them. Sure, it is more difficult to mirror an entire group but over the course of a single meeting an expert in behaviour, mirroring can draw everyone into a state of limbic synchrony. It is an impressive sight but it can be done, and when you harness it you will find staff and colleagues more cooperative and you will soon earn a reputation as the person who brings people together for a common goal, and an invaluable asset to any business.