When In Doubt, Mimic The Body Language Of Others To Be More Persuasive

When In Doubt, Mimic The Body Language Of Others To Be More Persuasive

Body language varies from one person to another. Trying to follow a set of specific actions to effectively communicate with everyone is bound to fail. If you’re talking with someone one-on-one, mimic their body language instead to be more persuasive.

Photo by Matus Laslofi.

As advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, the “correct” body language to use depends on your goal. If your trying to sell someone on something, more expressive and enthusiastic body language may be called for. If you’re trying to convince someone who’s on the fence, speaking more calm and with authority is more appropriate. Of course, your context can change from one moment to the next in conversation. Trying to plan your body language and adapt accordingly probably isn’t on the forefront of your mind. Instead, simply mimic the body language of the person you’re talking to. As Noah Goldstein, co-author of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive puts it:

Retail salespeople who subtly mimic customers’ speech and behaviour are more successful at selling… 78.8% bought such a product from mimickers, compared with 61.8% from nonmimickers. Afterward, customers who had been mimicked were more positive about the salespeople and the store… We argue that when a verbal influence strategy is embedded in a nonverbal style that fits its orientation, this boosts the strategy’s effectiveness, whereas a misfit attenuates its impact.

This works most effectively when what you’re saying matches you’re behaviour. Speaking with authority and confidence doesn’t matter much if what you’re saying is, “Eh, I’m not sure.” Body language can only carry you so far. However, if you’re having trouble communicating your well thought out message, try watching your conversation partner for nonverbal cues.

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