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Paul Jerome acmc
Licensed Life Coach in Reading, Berkshire

Nonverbal communication

A lot of information needs to be exchanged between people daily. We have minutes and hours, not years, to spend with the people who support our business and our personal lives. The ability to gather and / or exchange information effectively saves us time, energy and consequently money.

Numerous studies and reports have documented that one necessary skill in exchanging information effectively is the ability to gain rapport. Building rapport allows you to gather needed information graciously and expediently. Rapport means responsiveness, not that you like and / or agree with someone. There is a difference between giving people the experience of being understood and regarded, and actually understanding what their communication means. We are currently talking about providing people with the experience of being understood and regarded.

You are already familiar with 'macro' types of mirroring in your ongoing experience. An example of mirroring on this scale is dressing appropriately for a particular occasion. As a more refined example, we tend to match our table manners and postures to the level of formality we perceive with the place and people with whom we are dining. Mirroring on its various levels is the behavioural equivalent of agreeing with someone verbally.

Behaviours you can mirror:

1. Body mirroring
  • Body posture
  • Hand gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Weight shifts
  • Breathing
  • Movement of feet
  • Eye movements

2. Vocal / verbal mirroring
  • Tempo of speech
  • Volume of speech
  • Auditory tone
  • Highly valued descriptive words

To begin learning how to mirror, take the time to watch other people interact. Watch children playing, observe folks in restaurants, meetings and cocktail parties. Anytime you are near people who are interacting, notice how much mirroring is going on. Also notice the quality of the interaction that occurs when mirroring is absent.

After a short period of time in the observer's position, you will know that people instinctively mirror each other. You can now begin to do so deliberately to achieve specific outcomes. Start by mirroring just one particular aspect of another persons behaviour whilst talking to them. When this is easy, add another discreet piece - like their voice tempo - and another, and then another, until you are mirroring without even thinking about it, but can constantly observe it in your behaviour in retrospect.

The more you practice, the more you will become aware of the rhythms that you and others generate with postures, gestures, and voice tones. Be sure to notice the degree to which people are out of since when they are miscommunication, in contrast to how they are in sync when doing well with one another.

When mirroring to establish rapport, and build towards a desired goal, be sure to be subtle.

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"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams...
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
- Henry David Thoureau

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