Mirroring: The Body Language of Love and Attraction
People naturally mimic each other's body language, so when you notice it happening to you, it may be a sign that you are personally or professionally compatible with the other person.
Jane McGonigal, PhD, is a senior researcher at the Institute for the Future and the author of The New York Times bestseller Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. McGonigal's newest book is titled SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient--Powered by the Science of Games. Her work has been featured in The Economist, Wired, and The New York Times and on MTV, CNN, and NPR. She has been called one of the top ten innovators to watch (BusinessWeek), one of the one hundred most creative people in business (Fast Company), and one of the fifty most important people in the gaming industry (Game Developers Magazine). Her TED talks on games have been viewed more than ten million times.
Jane McGonigal: One of the fun things that you can do in everyday life is to develop a technique that I call the love detector. And here’s how it works. In everyday life we are constantly mirroring with our facial expressions, with our body language, even with our breathing and our heart rates people who we like. And the more that we feel like we really understand somebody, we’re really connecting with them, we’re really clicking with them, the more likely we are to physically mirror what they’re doing. So if you’re sitting across from somebody, you’re having a meeting, you’re having a first date and you notice that you both have your head kind of tilted to the same side or maybe you’re both leaning into the table with your head on your hand like this. And you haven’t don’t it on purpose but you notice just in that instant wait, we’re really – we’re sitting the same way. And oftentimes in my own experience it’ll be really strange positions. You’ll be leaning back with one arm out here and you’re like whoa, how did we get into this position.
Well the way it happened is you are both feeling connected. You feel like you are clicking and so because of that you’re physically starting to mirror each other. And some people would advise you to do this intentionally to kind of trick the other person into thinking that wow, we’re really getting on. Look, they won’t consciously know it but their brain will perceive it. I think that’s kind of creepy and really awkward. So instead of using this knowledge to I don’t know maybe manipulate people into thinking that you’re bonding, just use it as a love detector. Happen to notice in everyday life when you’re physically mirroring people and that’s just a signal to you. It’s a clue to you, hey, here’s somebody that I really connected with at a very deep level. This is somebody who would be a great ally, a great collaborator. Somebody that I should definitely spend more time connecting with in the future.
In our attempt to make scientific findings "applicable," people have said some pretty creepy things about body mirroring, the natural event in which people subconsciously mimic each other's body language. On the other hand, consciously mirroring someone's body language in order to manipulate them is awkward, says Jane McGonigal, at the very least. So instead of trying to manipulate people, simply be aware of when body mirroring happens in your life — it may be a sign that you are personally or professionally compatible with the person across from you.
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