Can you recall your last really good conversation? I mean the type of conversation in which you and your communication partner truly shared the engagement. Perhaps you believed the same things, agreed on specific issues, laughed at the same points, and were both astonished by the same topics. You both really seemed to enjoy each others company. Reflect on your body position and your body language, as well as the other person’s body language during that conversation. It’s likely that they were very similar. Matching body language indicates accord within a conversation. Many times we have similar opinions and connections to what is being said. And quite often, body language is very similar, sometimes even a mirror image.
Shared body language and positioning, tone of voice, and styles of communicating indicate respect, trust, and approachability.
Now contrast that with a very difficult conversation you might have had in the last week. You know those conversations; the ones in which you just can’t seem to find common ground with the person with whom you’re conversing. If you think about shared body language in that situation, you might recall a disparity between your conversation partner and your own body language, stance, and facial expressions.
So what can you learn from these two situations, and how might you approach the next conversation that you know has some risk or has charged emotions attached to it? Try showing respect for the other person’s situation – do this by utilizing body language and positioning similar to that of your communication partner. This mirroring symbolizes empathy and listening, and on a subconscious level it puts him or her at ease. Also stay in dialogue. Ask thoughtful questions and seek to understand an alternate view. Choose to use a similar tone of voice and rate of speech. In doing so, be approachable, and behave with more commonality with the other person. Watch what happens!