Among the persuasive tactics Dan Pink discussed during a recent keynote address was that of mimicking listeners’ gestures. One attendee mentioned this practice and asked for a little more about it. We’ve written about it under the title “Mirror Me.” The basic tenet is that mirroring (or mimicking) the posture, gestures, words, facial expressions, or tone used by another can help you build rapport and affirm relationship. Mirroring sends a message of interest and respect, a desire to remove any obstacles between you and the listener.
It’s not possible to mirror all your listeners if the audience includes a hundred or two of them. But you can pair mirroring with eye focus, reflecting the facial expression, for example, of a listener on whom you are focusing. In a Q&A session, meeting, or individual discussion, mirroring will be easier. Reflecting the pace or inflection of a listener’s words places you both in mutuality, on unspoken but communicated common ground.
Another influential tactic is to use the persuasive strategies ethos, logos, and pathos in a measure that will effectively engage your audience and thus get your messages heard. While many documents and presentations do allow you to use all three strategies, Pink suggests that when your audience comprises people whose status or power is greater than your own (“persuading up”), such as an FDA Advisory Committee, your best strategy is logos, an appeal to logic and reason. That suggestion is based in part on his beliefs that people in powerful positions do not easily take another’s perspective, and dealing with the brain is less problematical than dealing with the heart.