In order to connect with a person that you are talking to, you have to mirror them

In order to connect with a person that you are talking to, you have to mirror them
Image Credit: Pat Joyce

As an IT manager, we spend a lot of time talking with people. We discuss projects, careers, families and even where we want to go to lunch today. All of this conversation is a critical part of our job. What this means is that we need to find ways to use our IT manager skills make these conversations count – we need to connect.

The Power Of Mirroring

When we are talking with someone, our IT manager training tells us that it turns out that not only are they picking up on the words that we are saying, but also on our body language. In fact, when we have really connected with someone that we are talking to, mirroring starts to happen. What is mirroring you ask? Mirroring is when during a conversation your expressions, gestures, posture, vocal pitch, and even your tone start to match the person that you are talking to. This shows that you have a desire to please the other person.

What’s interesting about mirroring is that most often it happens unconsciously. However, once you know about the power of mirroring, you can use it to create powerful connections with the members of your team. The use of mirroring in a conversation has the formal name of “the chameleon effect”. Using mirroring in a conversation can cause the person that you are talking with to like and trust you more without really knowing why they feel that way.

As IT managers we are often surprised to discover that we are mirroring the team member that we find ourselves deep in discussion with. What researchers have discovered is that when we are mirroring someone, we become “dynamically coupled with them”. When this happens both of our brains start to react and adapt to the signals that we are receiving from the other person. Our brains are the part of our body that have the ability to implement this mirroring ability.

How To Do Mirroring Correctly

If we can agree that mirroring during a conversation with a team member can be a powerful way to create a deep connection, then it sure seems like we should take some time and find out how to mirror. The first thing that you need to realize is that you can’t fake this. If you pretend to be interested in the other person when you are not, they’ll be able to pick up on it. Instead, take the time to build a connection to the other person. Listen to them and try to understand what they are saying.

You can starting off mirroring the other party very simply. The first thing that you are going to want to do is to nod your head when they do. Next, take a look at how they have positioned their head. Tilt your head to match the way that their head is orientated. How they are speaking is also very important. You are going to want to try to match both their vocal tone and how fast they are speaking.

Once you get the simple stuff out of the way, you can start to increase the amount of mirroring that you are doing. Keep in mind that you have to be careful to make sure that the other side never detects that you are mirroring them. If they do, then the effect will be lost. You’ll want to move on to mirroring both their gestures and the way that they are sitting. As you start to behave more and more like they are, they will be drawn into your conversation and a real connection will start to happen.

What All Of This Means For You

The job of being an IT manager requires us to do a number of different things. One of our most important tasks is to have conversations with the members of our team. Lots and lots of conversations. Since this is such a critical part of our job, we’d really like to be able to connect with the members of our team during these conversations. It turns out that we can, if we know how to mirror.

Mirroring is something that happens during a conversation when we deeply connect with the person that we are talking with. Mirroring can happen unconsciously – we may not even be aware that we are doing it. However, we can also use mirroring to create the “chameleon effect” and draw the member of our team that we are talking with deeper into the conversation. When mirroring is happening, our brains become tuned to the other person and we pick up on the signals that they are sending to us. We can make mirroring work for us by building a connection to the person that we are talking with. Then we can start to match their nods and their head position. Finally, we can move on to mirroring both their gestures and their posture.

Since conversations are so very important to how we do our job, having a tool that can make every conversation better is critical. Understanding what mirroring does to a conversation and then how to use mirroring to create a deeper connection with the person that you are talking to is a critical IT manager skill. Use mirroring during your next conversation and you’ll discover just how deep of a connection you can create during a conversation and you just might accomplish some IT team building.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there are some conversations where mirroring would be inappropriate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager, you are responsible for a team of IT professionals. This means that it’s your job to hire the right people, provide them with an overall sense of direction, provide them with specific tasks to accomplish, and to use your IT manager skills to ensure that the work gets done along with some IT team building. Interestingly enough, in order to accomplish all of this, you need to create a personal connection with each member of your team. A big part of this connection is your ability to feel empathy. Do you know how to do this?

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Say Hello To The Emojis At Work

by drjim on November 9, 2017

The Emojis have arrived, are you ready for them?

The Emojis have arrived, are you ready for them?
Image Credit: Theus Falcão

So can we talk about our old friend: Mr. Email? I really don’t care how many social media tools you are currently involved in, I’m more than willing to bet that email is still your primary means of communication when you are at work. Now comes the big question: how good are you at using email? This can be a tricky question to answer because most of us despite our IT manager training use email in a “fire and forgot” mode. Is it possible that there is a better way to use email at work?

Say Hello To Emojis

So we appear to have a problem with our primary means of communicating in the office. No matter how well we use our IT manager skills, the emails that we send are all missing some important information. This information is telling the people who get our emails how we are currently feeling. Since, unlike voice mail, there’s no tonal inflection in an email when they get our emails they are left wondering what we really meant. Did we send this email when we were angry or is that just the way that they are interpreting our written words?

The good news for all of us, perhaps, is that Emojis have arrived in the workplace. What are Emojis you ask? They are the small smiley faces, hearts, flags, and other small pictures that have been installed on our smartphones, chat, and email programs. Once installed, they started to show up just about everywhere – including at work.

Ok, so they are there. However, are people actually using these things? The answer is yes. A recent survey of rank and file workers revealed that more than half of them said that they had used Emojis to communicate at work. Additionally, it turns out that more managers than workers approved of their use in the workplace. What this means is that IT managers are starting to understand that Emojis can be used to manage the emotional tone that you are conveying at work.

How To Use Emojis At Work

Now that Emojis have arrived, what’s an IT manager to do? Well one of the first things that you are going to have to do is to take the time to learn just exactly when you should be using these things. A study of the workplace usage of Emojis revealed that workers were more likely to use a smiley face in an email if they were making a request of someone that they work with.

IT managers can make use of Emojis in order to do a better job of communicating with email. When an Emoji is added to one of your emails, it can soften the tone of what you are asking people to do. When you do this, it can change how your team views you. You’ll come across as being less authoritative and more familiar with your team.

The reason that IT managers would be willing to use Emojis in their emails is to provide the reader with a clue as to their emotions when they were writing the email. The reason for this is because our written communication has a habit of coming across as being terser than our spoken communication. However, be careful. You need to take a careful measure of the department’s tone before you start adding Emojis to your emails.

What All Of This Means For You

As IT managers, the primary way that we communicate with our teams and with the outside world is via email. However, email has a number of drawbacks to using it. The biggest of these drawbacks is that since we don’t have any way to add tone to our emails, the receivers of the email don’t really have any way to determine what our emotions were when we wrote the email.

The good news is that Emojis have arrived in the workplace. These small pictures can be added to emails in order to communicate to the reader what we were feeling when we wrote the email. It turns out that people are already using Emojis as a part of the emails that they are sending. More often than not, they’ll use them when they want to get someone to do something. You can use Emojis with your emails in order to soften their tone when you are telling someone to do something. Emojis can share your feelings with your readers and this will make you more approachable to your team.

As with every new tool, Emojis hold both great promise and just a little bit of risk, Before you send an email that is loaded with Emojis to someone, you are first going to have to make sure that they are the type of person who is going to be able to understand what you are doing and to use the Emojis to get more out of your email. If the people that you are sending your emails to are open to this new way of communicating, then your emails can be used to do some IT team building and will start to take on a life of their own!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: In a single email, how many Emojis do you think is enough and how many do you think is too much?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager, we spend a lot of time talking with people. We discuss projects, careers, families and even where we want to go to lunch today. All of this conversation is a critical part of our job. What this means is that we need to find ways to use our IT manager skills make these conversations count – we need to connect.

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